Thursday, January 26, 2012
Sweet Potato Maki...
As I’ve mentioned before, sweet potato maki are one of my favorite types of maki. They have that perfect blend of sweet and savory that just gets my mouth watering. However whenever I’ve had them in the past they’ve been made either with fried sweet potato or deep fried sweet potato tempura. Delicious as that may be, and as much as I do love that delicate crunch from the tempura mixture, when I decided to make my own sweet potato maki I opted to take a healthier route.
Now, just because these little rolls don’t come drenched in deep fried and oily ‘goodness’ doesn’t mean they’re not absolutely delectable and addictive because they are. You still get that blend of sweet and savory, accented with a little maple syrup and a bit of sesame oil to round out the flavor. Plus you get that wonderfully fresh crisp flavor of green onion. When making sweet potato maki at home this is definitely my favorite go to recipe, and so far everyone who’s tried it has loved it. My husband can never get enough. Try them dipped in a little soy sauce sweetened with mirin or stevia or better yet - my favorite - try them dipped in a peanut or almond based sauce. In fact the almond sauce I use in my Asian Veggie Skewer recipe is fantastic with these. Something about that rich almond flavor goes so well with the moist and creamy sweet potato.
Sweet Potato Maki
1 1/2C Sushi Rice
3 C Water
1-2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Granulated Cane Sugar
2 Small-Medium Sized Sweet Potatoes
4-6 finely chopped green onions (white and green parts)
Dash of black pepper and a pinch of sea salt
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp maple syrup
4 sheets Nori Seaweed
Before I get to it, the method for making these Maki is very similar to the Sesame Asparagus Maki I posted about a little bit ago. The best thing you can do for yourself, to make this a quick and virtually effortless task is to have everything you need prepared before hand. Get all your pots, pans, steamers, ingredients, matts, boards and knives ready, and definitley make sure to have a clean work space ready.
- Now, first things first. You always want to start your rice before you begin anything else, because it generally takes the longest to cook. For this recipe I used white sushi rice because that’s what I had, but if you prefer you can easily switch it out for brown rice and there won’t be any difference. So combine your rice, your water, the vinegar and sugar in your rice cooker and cook as directed. If you don’t have a rice cooker combine 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 sushi rice I’d say it’s usually done within 20-25 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. However if you are using brown rice the cooking time will be longer, count on 35-40 minutes cook time but be sure to check.
- When your rice is cooked set aside until cool enough to handle.
- While rice is cooking prepare your sweet potatoes. Peel and cube them then place them in a steamer basket with a bit of water in the bottom. Let steam for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Once cooked remove from steamer basket and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Once sweet potatoes have cooled down mash them with a fork or potato masher. Stir in the black pepper, sea salt, maple syrup and sesame oil until thoroughly combined.
- Now of comes the trickiest part, putting together and rolling your Maki. But trust me as long as you follow the steps 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 a few tablespoons worth of mashed sweet potato over the section of rice closest to you. How much sweet potato you use is ultimately up to you and how much your medium potatoes yielded. I would guess that 4 Tbsp would be appropriate, however you’ll be able to gauge the correct amount for your supplies and your preference as you work.
- Once you have your sweet potato layer down, sprinkle some of the chopped green onion over top. A few pinches is usually good. You don’t want so much that it’s over powering, but you want enough to get that onion taste.
- 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 you survived! You should have been able to get six to eight rounds out of one roll. Unless you cut them bigger or smaller, and that’s okay too. Once they’re cut arrange them on a serving plate or platter and begin again from step one until all the ingredients are used up. Serve with soy sauce, almond dipping sauce, sweet Thai chili sauce, some pickled ginger and wasabi, and enjoy!
PS: You may notice in a few of the pictures that there are a couple of ‘inside-out rolls’ they too are pretty easy to make but just take practice. Next time I’ll explain how you too can make an inside-out roll at home, which will definitely impress your friends!
*** Note - For Sugar-Free Omit the tbsp of sugar from the Sushi Rice***