Big Fat Sushi Rolls
Do you ever feel that sushi is too precious? The most authentic sushi comes to you in tiny bites, designed to make you really appreciate what’s in your mouth. But sometimes, you just want a big fat sushi roll. Americans love sushi, and we want our food Texas-sized. This roll is hefty enough to serve as a main course for two people, especially if you make some Miso Soup. Asparagus with Walnut Sauce would be good, too.
Save Time, Make One Jumbo Sushi Roll
I have taught sushi classes for years, and have demonstrated everything from thin Kappa Maki to elaborately garnished Inside Out Rolls. But what most students want to learn is how to make a standard rolled sushi, or Futo Maki, with a spiral of colorful ingredients inside. It’s one of those things that seems like it will be hard to do, until you do it. All it takes is a bamboo rolling mat (also called a makisu) and some plastic wrap.
Brown Rice is Great in Jumbo Sushi
The key to a good sushi roll is the rice. According to tradition, sushi chefs apprentice for years, making the rice over and over. The standard sushi rice is white, so I like to switch it out with a whole grain, and use medium-grain brown rice. Brown rice is much easier to cook, you don’t need years of training to get it right. Brown rice will give you more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, so why not switch? I bought a brown version of the Japanese variety of sushi rice. Cook yours according to package instructions, or use 1 1/2-2 cups water per cup of rice. Check for doneness at 40 minutes.
It’s all about “Going Tubular”
To hold all this stuff, you will be using three sheets of nori on one roll. Two will be joined to make one long sheet, and a third will be placed over the seam, to keep the bountiful roll from exploding. Nori is one of the healthier foods you’ll eat all day, so an extra sheet is a very good thing.
Building a maki roll is an exercise in making an even pad of rice and placing ingredients in such a way that it can be rolled into an even “tube.” Beginners often make the mistake of not spreading the rice to an even depth all the way to the edges of the nori. That will not roll up properly. It’s also important to line up even slices of fillings so that they roll easily. After watching hundreds of people make their first maki, I’ve seen it all.
Don’t worry, it all tastes good, even if the roll turns out lumpy!
Of course, you can fill your roll with whatever moves you. Just make sure to cut it into even strips. Carrots, cukes, even roasted veggies like sweet potatoes can be rolled into your maki.
We Love Mayo in Sushi
Purists may look sideways at the American love of mayo in rolls. Sushi chefs have made it popular, and they use a Japanese mayo called “Kewpie,” that is super rich and amped up with added MSG. You can use your fave vegan mayo, and stir in wasabi to taste. I like it in this roll, it adds to the over-the-top quality, and complements the creamy avocado.
So, if you’ve ever wanted more sushi, here’s a way to make four rolls in one. The old saying, “too much is just enough” may very well apply here, in a jumbo sushi roll that’s a meal for two.
Jumbo Sushi Roll with Tofu and Beets
- 1 medium beet steamed
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar divided
- 1/2 block extra firm tofu drained and patted dry
- 1 cup medium-grain brown rice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 large avocado
- leaf lettuce
- 1/4 cup sliced pickled ginger
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 1 teaspoons wasabi to taste
- 3 sheets nori
- First, steam the beet whole until tender when pierced with a knife. Run cold water over the beet as you strip the skin off with a paring knife, then place the beet on a cutting board to cool slightly. Cut the beet in 1/2 inch slices, then stack them and slice in 1/2 inch strips. Place in a small storage tun with a lid and pour 2 tablespoons of the rice vinegar over, add a generous pinch salt, and toss to mix.
- Slice the tofu into strips the same size, and place in the container with the beets. Put on the lid and flip the container to coat the tofu with beet juice and vinegar. Let the mixture marinate for at least an hour, turning occasionally.
- Place the rice in a small pot with 1 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and cook for about 30-40 minutes. When the rice is tender and all the water has been absorbed, take off the heat. Let stand for at least 5 minutes. Let cool.
- When rice is cool, mix the remaining tablespoon of vinegar with sugar and drizzle over the rice. Fold in to coat.
- Prep the vegetables and wrap your rolling mat with plastic wrap.
- Place a nori sheet on the rolling mat, dampen the far edge, and place another sheet on that overlapping by an inch. Press to make one long sheet. Place the third sheet over the seam.
- Spread rice over the nori, leaving an inch bare at the far edge. You'll use all of the rice. Arrange the fillings as shown in the photo, making even rows of each.
- Start rolling up from the bottom, holding the fillings in place with your fingers as you use the mat to roll the nori and rice into an even cylinder.When you reach then end of the mat, carefully pull the roll back and keep going. Dampen the bare edge and turn the roll to sit on the seam.
- Carefully slice in 6 fat slices and place on plates. Serve with wasabi, tamari, more pickled ginger, and whatever else sounds good.