Spicy California Maki Sushi Rolls

I have been a huge fan of sushi since being introduced to it several years ago. I always preferred the rolls with crab in them, but I have come to really love the veggie rolls since switching to eating WFPB. The veggie-friendly California roll is a classic and very easy to make. Making sushi may seem a little intimidating, but it’s actually pretty simple. After your first few tries you’ll get the hang of it too! 

Ingredients:

Servings: about 2-3 rolls (enough for one, maybe two people if you serve the sushi with sides)

  • about 1½ to 2 cups of uncooked short-grain brown rice (long grain doesn’t work well at all)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1-2 carrots
  • ½ of an avocado
  • Sriracha
  • 2-3 sheets of nori (seaweed) wraps
  • Rice vinegar (unseasoned, no added salt or sugar)
  • a small bowl or cup of water
  • Soy sauce (reduced sodium) for dipping your sushi
  • Optional toppings to put in sushi roll: Sesame seeds, julienned bell pepper slices

Note: Plan to start cooking your rice early. If using a rice cooker, brown rice can take around 30 minutes or longer (depending on your cooker and the amount you’re making). Some rice cookers have a delay timer you can use to have the rice all ready to go as soon as you’re home from work. 

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Directions:

Cook the rice first. I prefer using a rice cooker for mine. After the rice is done cooking, pour a few splashes of rice vinegar in and mix it well. Allow the rice to cool before making the rolls. I usually use the time the rice is cooling to gather the rest of my ingredients and cut up the vegetables.

When your rice is cooled enough to work with, place a nori wrap shiny-side-down on the bamboo mat (or towel or whatever you are using as a tool to help you roll it). The lines on the seaweed sheet should be vertical, matching the lines of the bamboo mat. 

Keep your finger bowl of water nearby. Add a few splashes of rice vinegar to it and mix it in with the water. You’ll need this for your sticky fingers when you put the rice on the seaweed wrap!

Cover the seaweed wrap in a layer of rice. Don’t make it too thick or it will be difficult to roll and won’t hold together properly. Leave about a half-inch of the bottom of the sheet empty, it will help with keeping the roll held together. Use your finger bowl to keep the rice from sticking to you as you spread it across the seaweed wrap.

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Place your veggies and a line of Sriracha (however much you want) at the top of the roll. Sprinkle your sesame seeds around the rice.

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Using your thumbs, hold your sushi guts in place as you roll the mat towards you. Roll it far enough that the edge of the wrap touches the rice. Re-position your sushi roll if you need to and continue tightly rolling it forward.

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Use the bamboo mat to squash it into a rectangular shape, tightly packing the sushi guts together. That’s it! You have a sushi roll!

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I prefer to use a sharp butcher knife to cut my sushi roll. In between cuts use the water-vinegar mix from the finger bowl to wet and clean the blade, that way rice doesn’t get caught on it and you don’t “pull” or tear the sushi. It helps you make nice, clean cuts. Be gentle as you cut through and use your other hand to help hold the roll in place. If you are new to cutting sushi, don’t worry if you mess up a lot of the cuts on your first roll! It takes a little practice to get a feel for it.

Repeat these steps for each roll until you run out of your rice. Leftover rice does not reheat well for sushi, so use it up and keep any extra rolls as leftovers. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.

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