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Salmon Stars in Sushi Role

Chef Katsuo "Naga" Nagasawa at Cafe Del Rey in Marina Del Rey, California, presents smoked salmon in a beautifully structured, time-honored sushi roll. But he goes beyond tradition by seasoning the rice like a salad. Inspired by his innovation but lacking his technical skill, I've borrowed the essentials of Naga's salmon roll for a simpler - but still traditional - temaki (hand-rolled sushi). I present the ingredients separately; diners put a little of each on a square of nori, then fold the seaweed over the filling - sort of a Japanese taco.

Smoked Salmon Sushi Salad

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 50 minutes

NOTES: Up to 1 day ahead, make sushi rice salad, cover, and chill; bring to room temperature to serve. Garnish with cucumber if desired. Specialty ingredients are available at Japanese markets.

MAKES: 4 servings

Sushi rice salad (recipe follows)

6 sheets roasted (or toasted) nori (about 7 by 9 in.)

1 firm-ripe avocado (about 1/2 lb.), peeled, pitted, and sliced Seasoned rice vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons shaved bonito (optional)

1/2 pound thin-sliced smoked salmon, cut into strips

About 1/4 cup sliced pickled ginger

About 1 ounce radish (or daikon) sprouts, rinsed and drained

2 to 3 tablespoons tobiko caviar Chili mayonnaise (recipe follows)

1. Rinse a 1- to 2-cup bowl with cold water and lightly pack 1/4 of the sushi rice salad into it. Invert onto a plate. Repeat to shape remaining portions.

2. Cut nori sheets into quarters. Moisten sliced avocado with rice vinegar.

3. Sprinkle sushi rice salads equally with shaved bonito. Alongside each, arrange 1/4 of the nori, avocado, salmon, pickled ginger, and radish sprouts. Sprinkle servings with tobiko caviar.

4. To eat as sushi, put some of each ingredient on a piece of nori and add chili mayonnaise to taste; fold nori over filling. Or eat as a salad with a knife and fork, adding chili mayonnaise to taste.

Per serving without mayonnaise: 540 cal., 23% (126 cal.) from fat; 21 g protein; 14 g fat (2.1 g sat.); 82 g carbo (2.6 g fiber); 2,025 mg sodium; 60 mg chol.

Sushi rice salad. Rinse, drain, and discard stems from 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms (2-in. caps). Finely chop caps and put in a 6- to 8-inch frying pan with 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon salad oil, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Stir over high heat until liquid evaporates, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl. In a 2- to 3-quart pan, rinse 1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice with cold water until water is clear. Drain. Add 1 1/2 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Dump rice into bowl with shiitake mixture. Sprinkle with 5 to 6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar. Mix with a spatula and let stand about 10 minutes. To rice add 4 teaspoons finely chopped sliced pickled ginger, 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, and 3/4 cup diced Japanese or English cucumber. Mix.

Per serving: 344 cal., 9.9% (34 cal.) from fat; 6.8 g protein; 3.8 g fat (0.5 g sat.); 69 g carbo (1.8 g fiber); 651 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Chili mayonnaise. Mix 6 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar, and hot sauce to taste.

Per tablespoon: 76 cal., 97% (74 cal.) from fat; 0.1 g protein; 8.2 g fat (1.2 g sat.); 0.8 g carbo (0 g fiber); 147 mg sodium; 6.1 mg chol.

COPYRIGHT 1999 Sunset Publishing Corp.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group