Sunday, March 9, 2014

Nigiri Carrot Sushi

For my vegetarian visitors, this sushi's for you! Most sushi eaters are associated with raw fish consumption, well, sushi is actually defined by anything that is combined with steamed, vinegar (and sugar) flavored, rice.

This is the first of my Sushi Recipe Series. Last week was just a warm-up with my Sushi Rice video. You'll need the recipe to make Carrot Sushi, so click here for a refresher.

I don't have to point out that carrots are low-cost; I get whole packages of carrots dirt-cheap. And if you are a sushi novice, this is the cheapest way to learn how to make your own.

All you need really, is to steam a couple of carrots and white rice. It's best to get the hang of working with sticky sushi rice using a cheap topping like carrot. Once you get better at making Carrot Sushi, then you are ready to move on to more expensive seafood.

Even when you have some confidence in making your own sushi, it may still be a little rough looking, but you will get better with practice. It's best to get all your fumbling out of the way working with cheap ingredients. It took me a few tries, but now I'm ready to duel chopsticks with anyone!

My bright and savory Nigiri Carrot Sushi will not be replicated in your typical sushi restaurant. And their loss is your gain! My sushi twist is a welcome and nice veggie addition to typical pescatarian sushi fare.

I simply peeled a large whole carrot. I steamed the whole carrot in white wine. I split the cooked carrot in half. And I sliced each half into sushi-sized chunks (about 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch pieces.)

All that's left is the assembly on Sushi Rice (click here for my rice recipe.) I tied my Nigiri Carrot Sushi together with a sliver of green onion. You can sprinkle on some sliced scallion (green onion;) or just eat it plain, with a dip into a small bowl of soy sauce.

Most sushi has a swipe of hot grated wasabi, between the fish and rice, which you can do to the cooked carrot as well. (Grated horseradish can be substituted for hard-to-find wasabi.)

You are not limited to just Carrot Sushi. Try lightly steaming florets of cauliflower and broccoli in white wine or a favorite stock, then slicing them in half for a flat surface, to fit on ovals of formed sushi rice.

It may seem bizarre to make veggie sushi, but there's nothing weird about the delectable taste of my Nigiri Carrot Sushi. And be sure to come back next week for my video recipe of  Nigiri Tuna Sushi.

Ingredients (6-10 servings)
  • 2 whole carrots - a thicker carrot is better for making sushi pieces.
  • 1/4 cup of white wine - for steaming and tenderizing carrots. Okay to substitute with a favorite stock, like vegetable stock, or just plain water.
  • 2 cups cooked sushi rice - for my recipe click here.
  • 1 green onion - optional for topping. Slice green stem lengthwise, and chop white ends, discard root and any discolored stem parts.
  • Small bowl of water - to keep hands moist when handling cooked, sticky sushi rice.

Start with making Sushi Rice, my recipe is here.

To prepare carrots, first peel them and chop off ends. Depending on the size of you pan or pot, cut carrots to fit.

Add 1/4 cup of white wine to pan or pot. Turn on heat to medium and add carrots. When wine starts to simmer, cover pan or pot and low-steam carrot(s) for about 3-5 minutes, to desired tenderness. Add wine (or broth) as needed during steaming.

You can check tenderness with a knife: insert it to see how easily it pierces the carrot into the center, an easy puncture means the carrot is very tender, while some resistance means a more crunchy carrot. It's up to you how you like it.

Chop and slice green onion (optional ingredient.) Chop off and discard root and any yellowing stem. I like to thinly slice and chop the white part of the green onion. For the long green stem, I sliced the green parts lengthwise to make "string" for tying carrot to rice. This last stem "string" part is optional -- while it's easy enough to simply sprinkle on chopped green onion pieces.

Once the carrot is done to your liking, and it's cool enough to handle, time to assemble.

Take room temperature Sushi Rice and form it into ovals. You need to dampen hands and fingers to handle sticky rice. Take a ping pong-sized amount of rice and squeeze it in your palm and fingers. Try to form it into an oval. Give rice medium pressure, use other fingers to form rice into an oval - about 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches. Doesn't have to be perfect, you are going to slice carrot to fit the rice.

I learned to roll Sushi Rice by practicing with a couple cups of cooked rice. I just kept rolling sushi ovals in my hand until I felt comfortable. The main thing is to squeeze the rice together enough, so it doesn't break apart when eating the sushi piece.

Everyone understands that perfect appearing sushi takes a lot of experience, but I found just a little practice is good enough for homemade sushi. And you will get better the more you do it.

Make a few rice ovals at a time. Slice cooked carrot to the length of your rolled sushi rice pieces, then slice carrot lengthwise down the middle -- so you get a piece of carrot that is about the same size as rice oval, (now the carrot has a flat side that fits on the rice.)

Place flat side of  carrot slice on rice oval. Optional to tie down carrot with a green onion stem "string," just sprinkle on some chopped green onion, or leave it plain.

Eat Nigiri Carrot Sushi like you would regular sushi. Just dip carrot side of sushi into a small bowl of soy sauce and chow down. (Leave off chopped green onion of course - or sprinkle on a few pieces after dipping.)

Other veggies that work well as Nigiri Veggie Sushi include: broccoli and cauliflower (slice florets in half, lengthwise, to get a flat surface that rests on a formed sushi rice oval,) zucchini, squares or ovals of squash, baby corn, and cucumber. Almost any veggie that you can trim, to fit formed sushi rice. And it's up to you if you want to steam veggies in white wine and broth, or not.

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