Sushi goes Vegan by Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD

Opposites Attract

Sushi and dating: they go together, at least they use to, until I realized that if I went to a sushi restaurant on a first date, there was never a second. The lack of date number two was my choice so I could not help but feel that perhaps the pretense of a high end sushi restaurant skewed my decision whether or not to go out again.

Was I really giving these gentleman a fair shake by putting them under the gun of the sushi-sphere; the atmosphere whereby beautiful people eat raw fish, drink sake and attempt to make conversation over the unyielding clamor in a restaurant where you use chop sticks instead of silverware? What would make a sushi restaurant so noisy anyway?

Perhaps it’s the nutrients one consumes in the two hour dining period, or possibly the arrival of the hefty bill after a couple strips of sashimi, which makes the crowd more boisterous. Sushi can be a wonderfully healthy choice for those who wish to watch their weight and obtain those ever coveted Omega-3 essential fatty acids. But do you have to go out to really enjoy sushi?

Even before research on Omega-3’s hit newspapers, sushi was in Vogue. Around the time Omega-3 research popped up, sushi’s popularity was parallel. Although consumers knew sushi to be a “health” food, the connection between Omega-3’s and health was not yet publicized when sushi bars surfaced in the 80’s.

I was inspired to write about sushi this week, not because of another failed first date but because I ate sushi twice in one day. On my way home from the gym I ran into a friend who invited me for happy hour half price sushi and later that evening before seeing Sex in the City, which I loved BTW, I again ate half price sushi on the Promenade. My choices: tuna, salmon and California rolls.

When dining out at full fare I go for sashimi, the pure raw unadulterated fish sans rice, perhaps topped with jalapenos and ponzu (a citrus based sauce) and dipped in wasabi laden low-sodium soy sauce followed by a pickled ginger slice.

Since I am not yet well versed on the safety of raw fish, I am going to start you off with a Vegan sushi recipe to try in the comfort of your own home, with or without a date, your call. If you feel so inclined, add some cooked crab, smoked salmon or steamed shrimp to increase the protein and Omega-3’s per roll.

Vegan Sushi

Bamboo rolling mat
1 cup dry short grain brown rice,
cooked in 3 cups water or brewed tea
10 sheets dried Nori
1 Tablespoon Brown Rice Vinegar
1/4 cup Tamari
1 Tablespoon Sesame or canola oil
Shiitake Mushrooms,
finely diced (soak in warm water if dehydrated)
Sesame seeds or Gomasio (a Japanese seasoning: sesame seeds, sea salt & dried sea vegetables)
1/4 cup Dulse Flakes
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast flakes

1/4 cup pickled ginger, finely diced (see recipe)

Prepare the pickled Ginger first so it can marinate or “pickle” while you prepare the other ingredients

Cook rice, bring to boil, reduce to low; 35-40 minutes. Add liquid as needed. Remove from heat. Steam uncovered until all liquid has been absorbed. Dice Shiitakes. Heat oil in skillet on medium-low, add shiitakes and one tablespoon of tamari, ‘heat’ mushrooms 5 minutes.

Add rice to a 9 X 13 baking dish to spread out, cool and add other ingredients: vinegar, tamari, sesame seeds or Gomasio, dulse, nutritional yeast & Shiitakes. Remove ginger from marinade. Finely dice. Add ginger and “pickling” juice to rice mixture.

Place nori sheet on bamboo mat and spread rice mixture 1/4 inch thick over sheet, leave two inches at the top (end away from you) for sealing off roll.

Grasp side of the mat closest to you, roll it up and away toward the top. Press log tightly as you move it towards the end. Do not “roll” mat within sushi. Use the mat to press sushi as you roll. When sushi is all rolled up, wrap the mat around it and grasp firmly to press it together. Moisten “top” end with vinegar to seal it. Place sushi on a cutting board. With SHARP knife, slice sushi in one inch segments. Serve with wasabi, tamari and ginger.

Pickled Ginger
2 to 3 inches fresh ginger (may double recipe, reserve some for serving)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
Peel the ginger and slice it paper thin

Bring a pan of water to a boil, turn off heat and soak ginger slices in water a few seconds.
Pickling Mixture: Mix together honey, salt and rice vinegar. Stir until honey has dissolved.
Drain ginger from water. Place slices in pickling mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.