Updated: Jan 20
I remember the first time I had sushi, I was 20 years old. My then college boyfriend brought me home to meet his family in Chicago and they took us out for sushi. If you knew me then, I was nothing like the woman you know now. I was so shy and timid and hadn't experienced a whole lot in life. I hadn't even traveled outside the midwest except maybe to Florida.
I wasn't super adventurous and I was more than a little nervous about this meal. I wanted to make a good impression, but we were talking about raw fish. I barely liked cooked fish at the time. Throw in weird textures and flavors my palate had never experienced and you could say I was dreading it.
We walked into this strip mall sushi restaurant, apparently one of the best in the Chicago suburbs, with brown leather booths, dim yellow lights and lots of strange new smells. They ordered for me. The standard sushi newbie meal. Small iceberg lettuce salad with miso ginger dressing, ok...I could eat that. A cup of miso soup with little tofu blocks....um, tasty but weirded out by the spongy tofu cubes. Edamame...this I loved. And a California roll....no actual fish + a spicy tuna roll...my only raw fish. I loved them both! For the next 5-10 years I think that was as adventurous as my sushi order ever got. California roll and a spicy tuna roll.
Today, I love all kinds of sushi. (Yes, I'm plant-based, not vegan, so I do occasionally eat sushi.) And I'm much more adventurous, but this recipe is not. I'd call this an intro to sushi at home. These rolls are easy to make, flavors and textures you're familiar with, and honestly very family friendly. Both of my kids loved them.
The sweet, but spicy chili sauce really makes it a winner in my book.
There is lots of room for interpretation with this recipe and you can easily change up the veggies you add or the dipping sauces. Half the fun is just experimenting with what you decide to toss in you roll.
The cauliflower rice with seasoning is the real key to giving it that sushi-esque punch. And you can also use regular rice. But the cauliflower is another way to up your daily plant points and I think it keeps the dish lighter so I have room for more rolls!!!
For the cauliflower rice:
1 head of raw cauliflower, florets removed, washed and dried
1 Jicama peeled and cubed, you can also use daikon radish
1-2 TBSP of mirin (rice wine)
Dash of pink Himalaya sea salt
1 TBSP sesame seeds
1/2 tsp porcini powder
2 nori sheets, crumbled
1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
carrots, thinly cut
cucumbers, thinly cut
red bell peppers, thinly cut
avocado, thin slices
Make your cauliflower rice by adding the florets & chopped jicama to a food processor. Quickly pulse until you get small "rice" like pieces. Don't overly process or it will get sticky and wet.
Pour the "rice" into a bowl and season with the Mirin, vinegar and salt, stirring well to coat. Start with 1 TBSP of mirin and a little salt and taste before adding more.
In a small bowl, mix the seasoning ingredients together and set aside until you're ready to assemble each roll.
Wash and cut your veggies and avocado. Lay a nori sheet on a flat surface shiny side down. Fill 3/4 of the way with your "rice" and pat it down. Leave the far right 1/4 of the sheet empty. Sprinkle the rice with about 1-2 tsp of seasoning blend. Lay your veggies on the rice diagonally starting at the bottom left corner so they point into the middle of the wrap.
Start at the top left corner and bring that corner toward the bottom right until it covers your veggies. Tuck and roll. You'll get a cone shape like the photo above. Before closing. Dip your finger in a little water and wet the edge the finish the wrap to seal it.
OPTIONAL CHILI DIPPING SAUCE:
I love the rolls on their own raw and lightly seasoned. But you can level up the flavor or maybe if you have picky eaters, cover up some of the veggie and seaweed flavor with this delicious sweet and a little spicy chili sauce.
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of real maple syrup
2 TBSP mirin (rice wine)
4 tsp red chili flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ginger powder or about 1 tsp fresh ginger minced
1 tsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (sub Tamari gluten-free soy sauce)
3 tsp cornstarch
Bring water and rice vinegar to a low boil, stir in maple syrup, mirin, chili flakes, garlic, ginger and aminos or Tamari. Stir until well combined and lightly boil for about 3-5 minutes stirring frequently and watching. Add the cornstarch and continue stirring over low heat allowing sauce to thicken. Another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The sauce will continue to thicken.