Vegetarian and fishy sushi rolls brim with quick carrot-daikon pickles, shiso, shiitake mushrooms, scallions, avocado, cucumber, shiso, and kaiware sprouts. A how-to guide and a video collaboration with Snixy Kitchen. All images and video were shot and styled collaboratively by Sarah and myself.
My dad instilled in me a love of sushi from an early age. We would sit together at the sushi bar, clean our hands with steamy washcloths, and order directly from the chef – California rolls and yellowtail nigiri for me, more exotic choices for him – until we were full. One of my favorites was a big, fat vegetable roll filled with pickled carrot, avocado, cucumber, sweet egg, and other things I didn’t know the name for.
Sushi remains one of my very favorite things to eat. It’s light and clean-feeling, and I can never seem to get enough. Luckily for me, we have a superb sushi restaurant in our neighborhood called Umi. I never miss a chance to take out-of-town guests there, especially my dad, and I use its proximity to our laundromat to my advantage as often as I can get away with. Umi boasts a menu full of unique and sustainable fish, nightly specials ranging from pristine tiny oysters to butterfish to Dungeness crab, and fresh hon wasabi root grated to order. They have a handful of small plates – grilled fish and meats – and delicious vegetable starters such as grilled eggplant and sesame-dressed broccoli rabe.
The only thing Umi doesn’t have is a big vegetable roll (though sometimes they’ll let you order a vegetable tempura roll off the menu [but you didn’t hear it from me]). So when Sarah let on to the fact that she makes sushi on a weekly basis, I gave her sad puppy-dog eyes until she agreed to show me how. I headed to the East Bay to make my veggie futomaki dreams come true.
We spent the day buying up everything we could find at Monterey Market and Tokyo Fish Market, then concocting a sushi feast complete with quick carrot-daikon pickles, kaiware and pea sprouts, tamago, shiitake mushrooms, umeboshi, shiso, scallions, cucumber, avocado, and two kinds of fish. (She also fed me this incredibly delicious pineapple fried rice from her blog – yum!)
And we made a video!
Someday I hope to be as good at rolling sushi as Sarah is. Until then, she should expect to find me showing up on her doorstep at odd hours, with a bottle of sake and a hopeful look in my eye.
Head over to Snixy Kitchen for Sarah’s account of our day and some recipes.
I hope this post has inspired you to throw a sushi party of your own (and invite me!). And if not, there are always sushi bowls for a quick fix…
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Vegetable Maki with Quick Carrot-Daikon Pickles and Shiitakes
Tamago (sweet omelette) can be found in Japanese markets, or make your own. This recipe makes more than enough pickles for a whole lotta rolls; extras will keep refrigerated for weeks and can be put in salads or sandwiches (I’m thinking bahn mi for the rest of mine!). We used a combination of yellow and orange carrots, purple and watermelon daikon, but feel free to play with any roots you like. They only need to sit for 30 minutes or so to become tangy, or you can make them a few days ahead and let them do their thing in the refrigerator. I’ve included my favorite sushi fixings below but feel free to mix and match as you like.
Get the rice recipe, fish suggestions, and rolling technique over at Snixy Kitchen.
For the pickles:
(Makes 1 pint of pickles, enough for many rolls)
1 large or 2 smaller yellow carrots
1 large or 2 smaller orange carrots
1 large watermelon daikon radish
1 small purple (or white) daikon radish
3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup boiling water
1 T fine sea salt
1 T sugar
For the shiitake mushrooms:
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
a splash of mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
a big pinch of salt
Other fun things to put in vegetarian sushi:
tamago (sweet, cooked egg), sliced
scallion greens, slivered
ripe but firm avocado, sliced
umeboshi (pickled plum) paste
kaiware (daikon radish) or pea sprouts
purple or green shiso leaves
seasoned sushi rice
toasted nori sheets
sesame seeds, for sprinkling
tamari or soy sauce
Make the pickles:
Peel the vegetables and slice them into thin matchsticks short enough to fit in a pint-sized canning jar. Pack them fairly tightly into the jar; you may not need them all. In a heat-proof measuring cup, stir the boiling water with the sugar and salt to until dissolved. Stir in the rice vinegar. Pour the brine over the vegetables in the jar; you may not need it all. Cover the jar and let the pickles sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to a few days in the refrigerator. To use, pull out a handful, dry on a paper towel, and roll!Cook the mushrooms:
Place the mushrooms in a colander and rinse briefly under running water (really, it’s ok!). Shake dry. Trim off any brown ends and slice them 1/4-inch thick. In a wide skillet, heat the sesame oil until it shimmers. Add the mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft and golden, adding more oil to the pan if it looks dry. Deglaze with the mirin and taste for seasoning. Let the mushrooms cool a bit before rolling.