Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sesame Asparagus Maki...

Ah... see, yesterday I promised sushi and today I shall deliver it. I’ve been in a real sushi kind of mood lately, there’s something about that combination of brown rice and seaweed that’s got me jonesing bad - Sounds strange I know - but seriously it’s all I could think about last week. I made sushi twice, and this is one of the Maki’s I came up with. As I mentioned yesterday Asparagus sushi was always one of my favorites, and it’s been so long since I’ve had asparagus that I broke down and bought a bundle even though it’s not technically in season. - Very bad of me I know. - Though this Maki is kind of on the simpler side, it is super delicious either on it’s own or dipped lightly in soy sauce. It has a flavor and texture slightly reminiscent of a ‘traditional’ California Roll, which used to be me husband’s favorite. I’m proud to say that out of all the Maki I’ve ever made, in fact out of all the Maki he’s eaten, after eating this one he generously claimed that it was his new hands down favorite.

So, go ahead, and don’t be afraid to roll your own. It isn’t really that hard, and it’s not overly time consuming. You just need a little patience, and delicacy. If you can manage that, you can roll your own Maki and impress your family and friends by making them think you’re a super awesome sushi chef!

Sesame Asparagus Maki

1 ½ C Brown Rice
3 C water
1 Tbsp Granulated Cane Sugar
2 Tbsp Brown Rice Vinegar
1 lb Asparagus
4 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
4 Sheets Nori Seaweed
4 Tbsp Vegan Mayo
Wasabi paste to taste
Liquid Smoke to taste

- The quickest and easiest way to make sushi is to have everything prepared and ready to go. Meaning clean off a good sized work space. Have all your pots, pans, steamers, and bowls set up and ready to go. Have your ingredients laid out on the counter with your knives and measuring tools, and don’t forget your sushi mat!

- First, start your rice. Now if you’re like me you own a rice cooker for ease and convenience sake. I use it so often that it really is the most used appliance in my house after the Vitamix. If you have a rice cooker, dump your rice, water, vinegar and sugar into it. Mix to combine and then cook according to manufacture directions. However if you are not so fortunate to own a rice cooker you’re going to have to make your rice the old fashioned way, but you should be used to that I’d think. Pour rice, water, vinegar and sugar into a pot, stir to combine cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until all water is absorbed and rice is cooked. Cooking time varies but for brown rice I’d say it’s usually done within 35-45 minutes so just check on it every now and again and make sure to stir so the bottom doesn’t burn. Add more water if necessary.

- When rice is done cooking fluff it with a fork and set aside to cool. About 10-15 minutes. Or you could put it in the fridge for a quick cool.

- While rice is cooking, trim the corse ends from the Asparagus and discard. Also trim off the leafy tips of the Asparagus, though save those to toss into salads, stir-fries or soups etc... Place asparagus in steamer basket and steam for 5 or so minutes until Asparagus is bright green and tender crisp.

- Remove asparagus from steamer and set aside till cool enough to handle.

- While your rice and asparagus are cooling combine the mayo, wasabi and liquid smoke in a bowl. Taste for flavor and adjust as needed. The sauce should not be overly spicy in fact it should only have a hint of wasabi heat, and a bit of sweet smokiness. However if you prefer more heat by all means feel free to add it. 3-4 small drops of wasabi paste should be sufficient for achieving the flavor I intended.

- Now comes the trickiest part, but trust me you’ll be okay. On your clean work surface. - I use a clean bamboo cutting board - lay down your bamboo sushi rolling mat. On top lay down 1 sheet of Nori with the shiny side facing up. Have a bowl of cold water at your work station and with wet - but not profusely dripping - hands grab handfuls of rice and spread evenly over the sheet of nori. Spread the rice as close to the edges as possible but leave about a half to a quarter inch of space on the horizontal side of the Nori furthest from you. This little boarder will help your rolled Maki stick together. Rinse your hands before moving onto the next step.

- Spoon 1 Tbsp worth of the mayo sauce horizontally along the edge of rice closest to you. Then sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the sesame seeds - by the way you can use toasted or not it doesn’t matter. Mine weren’t toasted - over the rice.

- Next layer in 3 spears of asparagus on the left parallel with the horizontal edge of the nori closest to you. Laying them down over the mayo layer you just created. If they’re not long enough to reach from left to right then layer in 3 more spears on the right so that the edge closest to you is completely filled with asparagus. If some poke out past the nori you can trim them off, and use them on the next roll or eat them.

- Now, using your mat, and working slowly pull the mat up slightly and roll it over. Moving slowly and using both hands slowly roll your Maki, using the bamboo mat to press down and make the roll tight. You may have to stop at some point to push the filling back under the Nori or to help guide the roll. Stop just before you get to the opposite edge that you’ve left empty. Dip your fingers into the water, run them along the empty edge then roll your nori closed. Press down tightly to seel.

- It’s okay if it’s not perfect, rolling Maki takes practice and even though I’ve done it a ton of times I still don’t make a perfect roll each time. Sometimes my rolls are to fat, sometimes they don’t seel properly, sometimes I don’t cut them well. It happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. Remember that you’re doing it for the fun of it, and it’s - maybe - your first time, you’ll get better the more you practice.

- Next, and this step is very important. Before cutting your Nori into one inch sections run your chef knife under cold water. By the way you should always use a chef knife or other similar smooth edged knife to cut sushi. If you use a steak knife, or a bread knife or some other kind of knife with a jagged edge your Maki is going to get shredded and will likely fall apart. Once seaweed is wet it is very, very durable, your roll will fall apart before the seaweed cuts properly. I know from experience. So run your Chef knife under cold water. Give it a shake and then starting from one edge and working towards the other cut your roll into rounds.

- The best way to cut your roll is to do it in one smooth motion. Do not use your knife as a saw. Press down firmly it’s okay if the roll doesn’t cut right away, it’s okay if it looks like it’s getting squished a bit this is normal. Use one fluid motion, press down on the knife with your knife hand and hold the long end of the roll steadily in place with the opposite hand. Press the knife firmly down until it has cut all the way through. To separate the round from the rest of the roll you may have to give one quick saw motion depending on the sharpness of your knife, but otherwise that is it. Run your knife under cold water before EACH cut! This is important. Before each cut your knife must be wet. The drier your knife Is the more difficult this will be and the more likely your roll will fall apart.

- Congratulations! Now that one roll is finished - You should have gotten 6-8 rounds out of it by the way - give yourself a pat on the back, and then begin again from step one. Repeat all steps until ingredients are used up. At the end you may have some leftover rice. If this is the case no worries, stick it in the fridge and toss it into a salad tomorrow!

- To serve arrange on plates and serve with dipping bowls of soy sauce, and my favorite Sweet Thai Chili Sauce. Serve with addition dollops of wasabi if desired and pickled ginger, yum!

PS: As you can see in the pictures two of my rolls were coming apart at the seam, so don’t fret if yours do too. Also end pieces are always kind of ugly so don’t worry about them either. If you’re making this for a friend you’d like to impress you can always stuff the ends with extra filling once they’ve been cut. This way you have greater control and the filling won’t fall out on you.

*** Note - Can be made Sugar-Free by Omitting the Cane Sugar***


  1. Mmmmm amazing! Sounds easy enough that maybe I could even pull this off! My husbands birthday is coming up fast, he loves Sushi!...and my would I impress him if I could make this, and have it turn out looking as good as yours looks! S.T.

  2. So, so, so good! I really loved it! Thanks for making it! - M