In the last decade, I’ve made sushi a few times, the bulk being predominantly in college (and once, not so long ago). One Saturday in my third year, the Japanese society was holding a sushi-making workshop in a heavily (food & safety) regulated part of campus, and the fact that there were no open flames (rice cooker for the rice was the shortcut), just knives and raw fish (and some vegetables for the likes of just me), seemed to pass their safety standards agreeably. The afternoon that ensued was great, learning the tricks that have been passed down from generation to generation, not the chef’s secrets, but honest home versions of a world-famous Japanese favourite. The most intriguing part for me was the precision and linear way in which each filling was cut and prepared. One of the most essential tips that have stayed with me till now (even though I didn’t take any pictures or notes there) is the specific urgency in which the rice vinegar is fanned while being added and mixed into the hot sushi rice – it’s what makes all the difference and successfully elevates the sushi rice.
Leaving those fond memories behind, this time I opted to make a sushi rice bowl, with miso, white asparagus matchsticks, sliced mushrooms, bite-sized broccoli, hoisin-glazed air-fried tofu, shelled edamame, ribboned carrot and radish coins, with tons of toasted sesame seeds, green onion, miso broth and a ginger-garlic soy sauce mix. I didn’t have any seaweed at home, other wise I would have definitely added some shredded seaweed for a cracking spinach kind of effect.
This entire construction came together one evening as a matter of fate, triggered by my need to use up the sushi rice I had (as usual) been hoarding for an extraordinarily long amount of time and my utter laziness with regards to making actual sushi (which involved going and buying seaweed, finding that old rolling mat, and making some pickled ginger), this version just seemed a lot easier, and I actually felt very very excited to create something unique and original.
The flavour profile had to be extremely Japanese, but using lots of different elements and textures to make it one hell of a kick-ass bowl. I wanted to go with teriyaki glazed tofu, but when only hoisin made itself available in my pantry, there was little option. By the way, do you guys own air-fryers? I completely over-analysed the product for about 3-4 months before one day I just punched in my credit card information on amazon and the next morning, voila! Since it’s arrival, it has witnessed samosas (the north indian potato style, as well as my grandma’s signature panner version), chakli (rice and gram flour swirls), tofu, potato chips and quinoa patties. Apart from the quinoa patty that quite unattractively fell apart in the flipping process (I suspect because I air-fried straight from the freezer, and there was just too much liquid being released), everything else has been superbly successful, so much so, that even despite the fried version was made (out of precaution), it was the air-fried counterpart that the fingers reached for.
My point of that being simply, that I air-fried the tofu instead of baking/pan frying to crispen the edges. And once I placed the tofu on the rack, I used my pastry brush to coat the facing sides of the tofu with hoisin sauce. Once cool enough to handle, I picked then off the mesh, as they tend to be too soft when still warm.
The base of the rice bowl is sushi rice, cooked perfectly and kept warm till ready to eat. I had great fun shaping the rice into a perfect dome, before pouring the sauce around the circumference, and then the miso and then neatly (ish) piling on the miso-baked vegetables, and drizzling with sesame seeds, sesame oil and some green onion. Yum! There’s no “perfect” recipe for this, its just a great mishmash way to use up whatever fresh vegetables line your refrigerator, and is a wonderful one dish gluten free and healthy meal. The miso soup doubled up as a sauce to bake the vegetables in, as well as to flavour the rice. This way, both elements of the bowl have a binding flavour, but used in entirely different ways.
This stuffed SS and my belly very gluttonously, but with so much of it being vegetables, there’s little guilt, if at all!
- 200gm sushi rice, soaked
- 1/2 cup broccoli stems, into bite sized pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled into ribbons
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 3-4 white asparagus, cut into 4 each, lengthwise
- 1/2 cup shelled edamame
- 2 tbs cup toasted sesame seeds
- 2 green onions, finely chopped (whites and green seperated)
- 1/2 packet firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1-2 tbs hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup radish, cut into discs
- 1 pack instant miso soup (10gm)
- 200ml boiling water
- 1 tbs chilli garlic sauce
- 1 tbs light soy sauce
- 1 tbs rice vingegar
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbs ginger, grated
- Drain the rice and cook in fresh water, till almost dry. Fluff and keep warm.
- In the mean time, make the miso soup by mixing together the water with the miso soup paste.
- To make the ginger garlic sauce, mix together all the ingredients mentioned above for the sauce in a bowl as well as the whites of the green onion. Mix well to combine.
- On a baking tray, lay out the mushrooms, carrots, broccoli and asparagus, and drizzle with 4-5 tbs of the miso soup, and grill for 10-12 minutes until the miso gets sucked in by the vegetables, but before the vegetables get soft. Turn off the grill and leave in the oven.
- You can bake the tofu too, in a separate dish, or pan fry with the hoisin sauce. (I air-fried, because I currently like to air-fry everything. But its definitely not an essential step here).
- Microwave the edamame beans for 30 seconds to cook, but not longer or else they will get mushy and lose their beauty in flavour and texture.
- Now transfer the rice to a deep asian looking bowl. Or any bowl! Shape into a dome using a soup bowl and having a bit of fun! Now drizzle the ginger garlic sauce around the circumference of the rice, top with tofu and vegetables in any decorative or messy manner you like.
- Top with the radish, sesame seed, a few drops of sesame oil and the remaining green onion.