I promise you, these are as amusing to make as they are to eat. Take a piece of sushi nori, pile on ingredients, roll it up and eat it kind of like a burrito. Messy, but fun. My recipe calls for short grain brown rice, marinated tempeh, napa cabbage and carrot salad, ginger pickles and a creamy sesame dressing, but let your imagination loose. Who knows where it will lead? Get the basics ready in the kitchen, but bring all the components to the table and let your dining companions assemble their own roll-ups. Serve with a dipping sauce, if you like. Recipes after the jump.
NORI ROLL-UPS WITH MARINATED TEMPEH
Makes 4 roll-ups
For the rice:
For sushi, you want your rice to be a bit more moist and sticky than usual. In a small pot with a thick bottom and a tight fitting lid, bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup of washed short grain brown rice (or brown sushi rice). Cover, bring back to a boil, then turn down heat to a very low simmer. Simmer the rice one hour, turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes. Turn out rice into a bowl, cool, and season with one teaspoon rice vinegar and 2-3 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar, or to taste.
For the tempeh:
You can save this step by buying already-seasoned tempeh, but following this recipe will likely yield a more delicious result.
4 ounces tempeh, cut into 4 strips about 1/2-inch thick
2-3 teaspoons oil, preferably sesame
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or mirin
1/2 cup to 1 cup water
4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger
Heat a fry pan, add a little oil and brown the tempeh, 2-3 minutes on a side. Turn down heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients. Gently simmer the tempeh, 4-5 minutes on a side or until nearly all the liquid has evaporated. Cool.
For the salad:
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 cucumber, coarsely grated, or a few leaves of napa cabbage, finely sliced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon each of rice vinegar, umeboshi vinegar, and juice from the pickled ginger
a little pinch of salt, optional
Make this just before serving time. Gently toss all ingredients together in a small bowl.
For the dressing:
1/2 cup vegenaise, or mayonnaise of choice
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons juice from the pickled ginger
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon powdered wasabi, or to taste
1 tablespoon water
a little pinch of salt or a few drops of soy sauce, to taste
Combine everything in a small bowl and whisk together. Taste and adjust seasonings.
For the dipping sauce:
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup soy sauce with 1/4 cup water, grate a 1-inch piece of ginger and squeeze out the juice into the soy sauce-water. Presto! Instant dipping sauce. Optional ingredients would be a splash of mirin and a teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.
To Assemble: (In addition to the above items, you will also want to include pickled ginger, which you should be able to buy at any natural food store or Asian market.) First, lay out a piece of sushi nori, spoon a generous quantity of rice on the diagonal down the middle of the nori. Strew a bit of the salad over the rice. Scatter ginger pickles. Place the tempeh on top, then spoon dressing over all. Roll up as shown below. Put a little of the dipping sauce on your plate, and dip as you eat. Yum!
Above: James Holloway demonstrates the art of making a nori roll-up. Traditional Japanese style is to make it cone shape, rather than wrapped like a burrito.