Allergy Friendly Sushi
I dunno if you have been around long or a totally new reader but since this is a food blog it should come as no surprise that I am something of a foodie. And not just any kind of foodie, one that love the flair of international cuisine. I learned to cook because I wanted to, I wanted more options that I had locally and I wanted to know what was in the food I was eating. The last part is because I have a few food allergies, the ones relevant today are fish, shellfish, and seaweed. Which makes it really hard to enjoy one the most well known international dishes around, sushi. My family loves to play games, and one we play often is Sushi Go Party. It's great fun and introduced me to a little of sushi culture beyond just the round rolls that are so iconic. But without the main parts of sushi I knew the game was as much of the experience as I could enjoy.
Or was it? I had some ideas so I decided to turn to the internet and see what other people said about it. And I learned a few things. First off, people are really mean on the internet, esp if they think they are "right" (even if they aren't). Secondly, some people are incredibly kind and understanding. But third, and most important, I learned that "sushi" means sour rice. I more than a few people get on their high horse and be outraged that I would even attempt sushi without fish, that fish was the essence of sushi. But several very lovely Japanese women jumped on the thread to say that it was all about the rice and using what is on hand. It could, and usually is, fish centric but it doesn't absolutely have to be.
So with that in mind I did want to create something but there are a could things I would need. I would need something to shape them, something to fill or top them with, and something to help them hold their shape. for serving.
I am going to tackle shaping them first. Typically you lay seaweed on a bamboo mat and them top with rice and filling and roll. With seaweed off my take the very first time I tried this I attempted to use rice paper on the bamboo mat and top with rice and then roll. It was a disaster. It didn't roll well, it was hard to cut, and the rice paper fell apart once I tried to slice it. Other options were an ice make or mini muffing tray lined with plastic wrap. Just press the sushi rice in and then use the plastic wrap to dislodge it. With the mini muffin tray you scoop the rice in and press your finger in the middle compacting the rice and leaving space to stuff it with your filings. Fill and then use the plastic wrap to pop it out.
However, my favorite method was the Sushi Bazooka I ordered on Amazon. It's a cylindrical press that splits in half to allow you to create perfectly round and compact rolls. Fill each half with sticky rice and then use the plunger to shape a hollow space in the middle for the filling. Make sure the plunger is lightly oiled before using and I round that twisting it to remove it from the rice helped keep it from pulling the rice apart. Then fill, and I will get to my fillings next, and clamp it shut with the plunger secure on the end. Add the cap to it and hold it in your fist to keep it from squishing out the sides, and then press down. You will feel it give and then stop once the rice is ready. Remove the lid and use the plunger to expel a perfectly round roll. I found however that without anything on the outside they didn't stay round when cutting. I fixed this issue by only pushing it out about 3/4 of an inch at a time and slicing while it was still in the tube. the tube held it in place and they kept their shape. The picture picture at the top of the post highlights this technique.
I found that they did actually keep their shape pretty well once compacted but I also rolled some in soy wrappers for fun. they come in neutral like I have but also some really fun pastel colors.
The next think to tackle is the filling. I learned you can really add anything you want to your fillings. If you like how it tastes, go for it. Since I was trying to resemble what I know of sushi as much as possible I went with the parts I was familiar with that I could see. My favorite combo was the avocado and cucumber with cream cheese. A close second was the cucumber, cream cheese, marinated carrot, and pickled daikon radish. Go for a mixture of textures, colors, and flavors to make them interesting. Some of my options were to mimic things I have seen on sushi, Like the macerated carrots on top. They added a bit of bright flavor, some great texture, and looked pretty sprinkled on top. I can't wait to tackle sphereification to expand my topping options.
These were removed from the Sushi Bazooka and then sliced, they don't stay as round.
Sushi Rice3 c. sushi rice
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
So the main component is the rice. The rice needs to be cooked just right, and be sticky, and have the tang of sushi rice. To do this measure three cups of sushi rice. Place in a fine mesh strainer in the kitchen sink over a large bowl. Rinse the rice, rubbing and running under cold water until the water collecting in the tub underneath is no longer cloudy. I drained the bowl a few times so I could tell how much starch is coming off. I then placed in my instant pot with three cups of water and a pinch of salt. Some people allow it to soak but I didn't find it changed much at all. I made two batches and couldn't tell them apart. However If you want to, I rinsed mine in the morning and added it to the instant pot leaving to to soak all day long so that in the evening when it was time for dinner all I had to do was turn it on.
Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small dish. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Some recipes call for more sugar, some call for none. It is personal taste, I like a little so it's sweet and sour but not a lot.
Once the rice is cooked gently remove it from the rice cooker with the paddle and place in a casserole dish. Gently break in to smaller clumps to cover the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with the vinegar mixture and mix to turn and incorporate. You want to mix the rice around but not stir it so the rice doesn't break down. allow to stand for 5 minutes to cool and absorb the vinegar. Use and desired.
1 medium carrot
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
Peel and mince the carrot. Place in an airtight container or bag and toss with the sugar and salt. Allow to stand for at least 1 hour or overnight.
As adapted from Love & Lemons
3 large carrots
1 c. salt
1 tsp. oil
3 drops liquid smoke
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Clean the carrots and rinse them off but don't peel. Dry really well. Use a baking dish that is as small as you can but still fits the carrots. Sprinkle half the salt in the bottom. Place the carrots in the salt and press down. Top with remaining salt and roast in a pre-heated oven 475*. Roast until the carrots are cooked all the way through but not mushy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Take the carrots out of the pan and brush off any salt still on the carrots. With a sharp vegetable peeler peel the carrots lengthwise in to strips.
Mix together all of the marinate in an airtight container or bag. Add the carrot strips and allow to marinate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Want the condensed version? Here it is in list form!
Options for forming
1) Sushi Bazooka
2) Ice cube tray
3) Mini muffin tin
4)Plastic wrap on bamboo mat
3) Cream Cheese
4) Marinated Carrots
5) Daikon Radish
6) Egg strips
7) Red Onion
8) Green Onion
9) Whatever floats your boat
1) Sesame seeds
2) Minced macerated carrots
3) Sliced green onions
1) Pickled Ginger
3) Yum Yum sauce
4) Eel Sauce (this is a sauce for serving with eel, and does not contain any eel itself)
5) Soy/ vinegar mix
Marinated Carrot, cream cheese, avocado, and cucumber wrapped in soy paper