I remember becoming obsessed with the notion of sushi as a child. It would often appear in Japanese cartoons or get mentioned in American television, but growing up in the flat lands of Norfolk 15 years ago, it wasn’t something that was readily available. Still, the bizarre white rolls surrounded in a deep green coating and mentions of raw fish gripped me. It was so unlike anything that had ever graced my plate! Eventually, on a trip to London when 12 years old, I found a small outlet selling some. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. To this day I still have sushi several times a week, often making it for my packed lunch.
This recipe takes everything I adore about sushi – the sticky seasoned rice, seafood bursting with saline goodness and all sorts of fresh, delicious vegetables – and whacks it all together. I suppose you could consider it a salad of sorts. Furthermore, for those who are still anxious about shaping or rolling your own sushi, it’s offers a guiltless alternative. And of course, while I’m using crayfish, you could substitute just about any of the toppings here for anything you prefer. I chose this assortment of vegetables for their freshness, their crunch and their beautiful rainbow aesthetic.
While most sushi rice comes with stove top instructions which you could, of course, follow, I will detail my fool proof rice cooker method. I also use Japanese mayo – it is really worth hunting this stuff down. If nothing else, you can buy it on Amazon. It is incredibly rich as it only uses the yolk of the egg, not the whites. I use it for just about everything, but it’s particularly suited to sushi dishes.
For the rice
- Sushi Rice (about 75g uncooked per person)
- Rice Wine Vinegar (other white vinegar will work in a pinch)
- Mirin (optional but strongly recommended)
For the rest
- Red Pepper
- Edamame Beans
- Red Cabbage
- Sesame Seeds
- Panko Breadcrumbs
- Japanese Mayo
- Wash your rice 3-4 times, until the water has clarified substantially. This is vital, as it removes the excess starch which will otherwise turn your rice into more of a mushy mess. Then leave the rice to soak in water for a further 15-20 minutes.
- Either cook your rice to the packet instructions OR if you own a rice cooker listen up! Add the rice to the cooker along with water. You should have 5 parts rice to 6 parts water (or put more simply, an additional 20% water. So if you used 100g sushi rice, 120ml water.) Switch on and leave until the cooker indicates it is finished. Remove from the heat and leave without removing the lid to steam for another 20 minutes.
- To make the seasoning, for every 100g of uncooked rice use 1bsp rice wine vinegar, 1tsp mirin, 1tbsp sugar and 1tsp salt. Mix these together until the salt and sugar have dissolved, then pour over the cooked rice when it is time to remove the lid. Transfer to a tray or large plate and spread out so it can cool completely. Speed this process up by fanning the top of the rice and moving it around regularly.
- While the rice cools you can prepare your vegetables however you like them. As you can see, I sliced the peppers, red cabbage and avocado, grated the carrot, used a potato peeler to make ribbons of the cucumber and left the edamame as is. Additionally, season your crayfish with a sprinkling of salt and a dash of vinegar.
- Toast a handful of panko breadcrumbs in a frying pan with a tsp oil for a few minutes until deep brown and crisp. These will offer a delicious textural variation as you bite into the dish.
- Assembly by first placing a large square of nori into the side of the dish, then spreading the rice over the inside of the bowl about 1/2 way up. Then lay the vegetables and crayfish, drizzle the Japanese mayo and sprinkle with sesame seeds, some thinly sliced nori strips and the toasted panko.