Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sushi-Rice Salad

Use short-grain sushi rice for this yummy salad - it has the flavors of a cucumber roll, but in a deconstructed presentation.  Sushi rice grains are so short compared to their width that they actually look nearly round (see photo below), and the sticky texture is what makes it great in (vegan) sushi rolls, and perfect for this particular salad.

For the rice:
  • 2 cups uncooked sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
For the dressing:
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated and peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared wasabi paste
For the salad:
  • 1 cup (2-inch) julienne-cut and peeled English cucumber
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds*
  • 1 sheet nori seaweed
1. Rinse the rice thoroughly in a sieve, and drain well.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, and add the rice and salt; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

2. To prepare the dressing, combine the rice vinegar, canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and wasabi in a bowl. 

Note: many varieties of wasabi on the market contain artificial food coloring, which I try to stay away from on principle.  A good option is the wasabi paste from Roland, dyed with the all-natural gardenia blue (which makes it, paradoxically, a bright green).

3. In a bowl, combine the cooled rice, the dressing, the cucumber, the red onion, and the sesame seeds.  Cut the nori into 2-inch julienne strips, and sprinkle over the rice mixture.  Depending what brand you buy, you may actually need to toast the nori sheet over a flame before cutting it into strips - when doing so, it will turn from nearly black to the most brilliant shiny green.  If I ever meet a mermaid, I expect the scales of her tail to shimmer exactly like this: 

If you're feeling adventurous, try serving this salad alongside ecoVegan fish fillets - then you'll really have all the flavors of a sushi roll.

*You can quickly toast the sesame seeds in a skillet over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, until they darken and become fragrant.  Cool to room temperature before adding to the salad.

Nutrition Info:
7 servings (1 cup), Calories 256 

Tasting Notes:
I found the flavors really light, refreshing, and different in this salad, so quite enjoyable.  I would change a few things, however.  Putting the nori strips on top didn't seem like the best use of the seaweed; I would actually chop it into small pieces and stir directly into the salad.  I also felt like the salad needed a little... more to amp it up; cubed avocado and julienne-cut carrot strips come to mind.  There was also just a tad too much strong vinegar taste to the dressing, so next time I would decrease the amount to 1/3 cup.  And speaking of next time, this salad would be perfect for al fresco summer dining, so keep it in mind for the warm months ahead.


Finally tonight, a quick mea culpa: You may have noticed yesterday that there was briefly a post for Chambord Granita, which then just as quickly disappeared.  Well, I have been enjoying Chambord for years without a thought - raspberries and cognac, I assumed, so no vegan worries there.  Had I done my due diligence, I would have realized that Chambord contains honey, and I feel terribly guilty for having not realized this sooner.  So the instant my online research turned up the fact, I pulled the recipe from my blog.  Please spread the word to fellow vegans who may not know that there is honey lurking in their Chambord.  A vegan alternative I found online?  The creme de framboise raspberry liqueur from Alain Verdet.

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