I love to cook for others. Like, really, really love making sushi for other people.
In a perfect world, I’d be allowed to experiment and have as much freedom coming up with new rolls as I do here on Sushi Day. But this isn’t a perfect world, and not everyone will eat all the random rolls I put together (and, to be honest, not everything I attempt comes out well…). And I’m okay with that.
These days, there are a lot of things you have to take into account when making sushi for other people, like if you’re going to a potluck. While my Spicy Shrimp Inari is always a crowd pleaser, you know there are always a few picky eaters: “I don’t eat seafood… at all.” (Hence my Man Sushi… trust me, that’ll convince any meat eater that sushi’s actually delicious!)
Then there are those with allergies – gluten-free? Just stay away from tempura. (And bring some wheat-free tamari soy sauce… did you know that most normal soy sauce actually has wheat products in it?) Dairy-free? Okay, no rolls with cream-cheese.
And, of course, you have those with other dietary restrictions, like vegetarians and vegans. At the most recent potluck I went to, I knew we’d have a few vegetarian/vegan attendees. So in addition to the other sushi dishes that I brought, I decided to come up with a vegetarian roll.
Obviously, I was going to use primarily vegetables in the roll. I considered using tofu, but decided against it since I didn’t think there would be a quick, easy way to make tofu taste good in sushi. (I needed something that wouldn’t be too time-consuming, since I was making four dishes that morning for the potluck.) I also couldn’t resort to tempura-frying the veggies, since tempura isn’t vegan – the batter uses egg. For the same reason, no mayonnaise is allowed either.
But it had to be a delicious, somehow interesting roll. It just wouldn’t be right to make delicious rolls for my meat-eating friends, and then bring a boring, “blah” roll for my vegan friends. So I had to come up with something so good even the meat-eaters would love it.
“Asparagus… roasted. Obviously. I love roasted asparagus.”
“Onions… sauteed? Nah, I want a texture contrast. How about fried? Yeah, I’ll need to heat up oil to fry the Arctic Char and Cream Cheese Wontons, so I can just fry up a bunch of thinly-sliced onions before I start the wontons.”
“What else… what would go well with asparagus and onions? Hm. How about carrots? Yeah, carrots would be good. But I don’t want to just roast them. I’m already roasting the asparagus; another plain roasted vegetable would be boring. Oooh, what if I glaze them with a little maple syrup? That would add a nice sweetness that should round out the roll.”
So how did it turn out? According to my veg(etari)an (as well as my omnivorous) friends, this fish-less, meat-less roll was a grand success. So much so, that it has definitely earned a place in my regular potluck menu. ^_^
- 6 sheets nori
- 3 cups sumeshi
- 1 bunch asparagus, with ends chopped off
- 1 bunch of carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch sticks
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- canola oil, for frying
- Cook sushi rice.
- Preheat oven to 400° F
- Toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp olive oil and the salt. Spread out on a baking sheet.
- Toss the carrot sticks with the maple syrup and remaining olive oil. Spread out on a separate baking sheet.
- Roast the asparagus and carrots until the asparagus starts to brown, about 1 hour.
- Deep fry the onion slices in the canola oil until crispy. Drain on paper towels; sprinkle with salt.
- Roll the sushi, using the roasted asparagus, maple-roasted carrots, and fried onions for your fillings.