By ERIKA MARTIN | Reporter
Food blogger Acooba Scott recently visited the Palisades Branch Library and led a workshop on how to make vegan sushi. While the elaborate constructions seen at sushi restaurants may make the dish seem out of reach for family dinners, Scott demonstrated how to make three simple roll styles that can be customized endlessly with your preference of fillings.
Sushi isn’t difficult to translate to a vegan dish because it’s mostly vegan already, except of course the fish. It’s also just as easy to follow these vegan instructions and substitute the non-vegan fillings of your choice.
Paddle or large spoon
Bowl or dish (to season rice in)
Note: Use non-metal utensils because sushi rice contains vinegar, which reacts with metal and may give your sushi a tinny flavor.
Also keep a dish close by with water and vinegar to rinse hands in between rolls and moisten the edge of the roll to seal it.
Sushi consists of three main ingredients: rice, seaweed and assorted fillings. You can also use rice vinegar to seal the rolls instead of water and sesame seeds as garnish.
RICE: Since rice is the basis of sushi, it’s important to use the right kind. Be sure to purchase sushi rice or another type of rice that is sufficiently sticky and short grain. Avoid longer grain rice such as basmati or jasmine.
Before cooking the rice, wash it to get as much starch out as possible. Wash it in several changes of water, at least two to three rinses.
To cook, add one and a half parts water to one part rice.
SEAWEED: This can be found in most Asian markets and usually comes perforated to cut down to roll size. If yours is not, simply cut strips into the size of your desired roll circumference.
FILLINGS: Choose fillings based on your tastes. In her demonstration, Scott used carrots, asparagus, avocado, cucumber, baby corn, sautéed mushrooms, eggplant, veggie chicken and tofu. Ingredients should be slightly warmer than room temperature.
Scott likes to use a variety of colors for her ingredients and dyes her tofu with spices like annatto (to make red or pink) and turmeric (yellow).
“Sushi is kind of a feast for all your senses,” she said. “It smells amazing, it tastes amazing, it has all these different textures. I love being able to make it beautiful with different-colored veggies and toppings, which also makes it more nutritious.”
To make vegan caviar, Scott mixes tapioca with ginger juice, sesame oil and Bragg’s liquid aminos.
1) SIMPLE ROLL
Take your seaweed, cut to size and place on sushi mat. Spread rice over it, leaving about half an inch to seal the roll. Place desired filling lengthwise in center. Use the mat to roll the sushi over itself like a sleeping bag. Once you have a cylinder, use water or vinegar to wet exposed end, then press down to seal. Cut into smaller pieces and serve.
2) INSIDE-OUT ROLL
To make the inside-out roll, with rice on the outside and seaweed on the inside, use the same rolling technique. Once you have your seaweed and rice down, place plastic wrap on top of the rice. Flip over and place filling on seaweed. Roll, making sure the edge of plastic wrap is not rolled into the sushi. Cut into smaller pieces and serve.
3) SQUARE ROLL
Though they look impressive, square rolls are a relatively easy to make. First, make a simple roll (seaweed on the outside) with no filling. Cut roll lengthwise into quarters. Place two of the quarters on a second piece of seaweed, with rice facing down. This should create a v-shaped groove into which you can place the filling. Then, place two remaining quarters on top, rice facing up. Use the sushi mat to roll. The roll should have a square shape. Cut into smaller pieces and serve.
Palisadian Lewis Glenn, 96, attended the workshop with his daughter Renee. Glenn said he takes no medication, instead maintaining his health with a vegetarian and Mediterranean diet.
“I like sushi, and I’m a vegetarian,” he said. “I brought my daughter because she’s going to be making it for me.”
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