My attmepts in making sushi turned into this delicious sticky rice seed balls with peanut sauce.
I will have the avocado roll and asparagus roll please, smiled and handed the waiter the fancy menu. My husband ordered the sweet potato roll and cucumber roll with a side of rice. The waiter comes out with our dishes, hands us our chop sticks and says, enjoy as he walks away. I looked down and admired the creativity and beautifully displayed sushi rolls. They were perfectly round with colorful fresh vegetables in the center of white sticky rice and holding it all together was a nori seaweed wrap. These rolls were all neatly lined up on a long white dish. Every piece of rice and vegetable were in harmony and in a pattern. On the side was a small dish of garlic soy Sauce, wasabi and ginger for dipping. I commented to my husband how much it looked like a beautiful display of art that took patience and talent to create. Then, as my stomach reminded me that I was hungry, I ate my first bite dipped slightly in the garlic soy sauce not drenching it but only giving a hint of flavor. That’s, when I looked at my husband and said you know what, “this is something I have not tried to make yet. I can make these rolls how hard can it be, I am creative.” Well I soon found out!
First of all, most often you will get a look like someone had just put a stinky fish in the back seat of their car when you say the word sushi. And unless you love it, the response is usually, “oh I don’t eat raw fish”. Well, being that I am vegan neither do I. Traditionally sushi from Japan is made with raw fish that dates back thousands years 1603-1868. This dish was a fermented fish with rice preserved in salt. Sushi actually means “It’s sour” due to the fermenting process. In japan it is very simple with only one type of fish and rice. Today it much different from the traditional sushi and has become westernized with many varieties and funky names. Some of the names you will see on American Japanese menus are spider, Rock n roll, Dragon roll, spicy tuna roll, California roll, teriyaki roll just to name a few. Some of the varieties include and is certainly not limited to, seafood, tuna, eel, imitation crab, lobster or salmon and it can be served either cooked or raw. Veggies rolls are popular that include avocado, cucumber, carrots, sweet potato, zucchini, asparagus and more. They can be wrapped in seaweed, raw fish or avocado and garnished with seeds and sauces. However, there is one thing that you will always find in sushi no matter how it is prepared…..sticky rice. Here is my experience in making sushi and some pointers.
I went out and bought a simple sushi kit that consisted of a wooden flat spoon and a bamboo mat for rolling and watched a few you tube videos and read articles. Then, I excitedly went out and bought my ingredients. When buying sticky rice it will not say “sticky” on the bag so be sure it says sushi rice, there is a difference with regular white rice. Sticky rice’s formal name is glutinous rice which almost sounds like gluteus maximus which kind of makes me giggle and is similar sounding to glue which is appropriate resulting in “sticky” rice. In the easiest way to explain it and without getting all technical according to Huffpost.com, this is what makes it sticky. Most rice varieties contain two starch molecules Amylopectin and amylose. Sticky rice only has the amylopectin starch which is water soluble. So when it is added to HOT water it breaks apart making it all sticky and mushy. This is how it can be made into fun shapes including delicious sushi rolls or these balls rolled in seeds covered with a peanut sauce. And they weren’t kidding when they say sticky rice, it should have been called glued to everything it touches rice. How did my sushi making turn out you ask?
Let’s just say that they were not like I had envisioned. I ate the sad little rolls anyway and they were just as delicious but, I decided to use the rest of the rice to make rice balls rolled in a seed mixture to put on top of a salad drizzled with peanut sauce. The videos look so simple, just lay out the rice on a nori wrap, put veggies on top and roll with a bamboo mat and waalaa there you have it! Well it was not that simple and it takes some patience and practice to get it right. Mistake #1… I stuffed way too much of everything in these rolls making it difficult to roll. Not to mention that the “glue onto everything rice” was stuck on my hands, the counter and the floor. It is much easier to wet a paper towel and wet your hands when handling the rice so it does not stick as much, this was mistake #2. If you notice, this is why sushi chefs always have a wet towel next to them when preparing sushi. Also, it can be a challenge to roll this rice into a ball so I learned that if you put a scoop of rice in a zip lock baggie and form into a ball through the baggie, it works perfectly! No messy rice all over. Finally, mistake #3 when, rolling my wrap I didn’t wet the end of the nori so that it would stay rolled up. I now have a new found respect for sushi chefs and realize that it takes finesse, practice and patience to make sushi rolls look the same as I ordered that day in the restaurant. It was fun making them anyway and my sushi making days are not over. However, you may have better luck at it than I did. Here is a you tube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKUSI8ElgRc
Sushi making attempt
STicky Rice Seed Balls
In the meantime, try these great little rice balls with seeds sitting on a bed of greens with peanut sauce. I must say these were a great recovery from my sushi experience. They were a great addition to a salad with lots flavor.
Sticky Rice Seed Balls
This recipe made about 1 ½ dozen balls depending on how big they are. I put 4 balls on each salad. They will last a few days in the fridge. They are super easy and quick to make.
2 cups dry sticky rice rinsed
Juice from ½ lemon (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste for rice
Combination of seeds including but not limited to:
Approx. 3 tbsp. each
Cook sticky rice:
· 2 cups of dry rice to 2 ½ cups water. Water should just go over the rice.
· Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for about 15 min.
· Rice should be nice and sticky. Can add a bit of fresh lemon juice for flavor
· Mix all seeds in one bowl along with a dash of salt and pepper for added flavor
· Form sticky rice into balls in the zip lock bag trick as mentioned above
· Roll balls in seeds mixture and place on a plate
· Enjoy on the side or on top of a salad
Ginger peanut sauce:
Makes about 1 cup
½ cup smooth or chunky peanut butter (I used chunky)
2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce of choice
2 tbsp. honey or agave
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. water (or as needed depending on how think you like it)
1-2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1-2 tsp sriracha sauce (optional)
Blend in high speed blender or mini ninja chopper worked great!