Sushi is not food, it is a religion, an art form, a cultural dance and a gastronomic experience bundled into one. No wonder the world loves sushi; every major city in the world has a sushi bar/ restaurant. How is it that this unconventional way of eating raw fish, vinegared rice and seaweed gained a cult status amongst the elite in all parts of the world? The answer lies in the core principles of making sushi- freshest possible produce, extreme care in the use of the ingredients and simplicity.
The most prominent types of sushi are Maki roll ( seaweed outside); Uramaki roll ( rice outside ); Nigiri ( sliced fish on rice); Tekamaki ( Hand-rolled conical); and Sashimi (sliced fish). I had the opportunity to train with a Sushi Masterchef Venicio Cadavida, who had worked at some of the most upmarket sushi restaurants in the world like Nobu and had his own TV show in the middle east. A fun, jovial, guitar loving guy, Chef Don Don ( what we all lovingly called him) turned into a drill sergeant with unwavering discipline when it was time for business. I learnt that to work as a sushi chef, meant striving for perfection of the highest degree; there is no room for error.
“Your knife has to be the sharpest, your speed has to be the fastest, your section has to be the cleanest and your product has to be the absolute best or nothing else.”
There are a few essential conceptual things that one must not tamper with to uphold the sanctity of sushi, but apart from that sushi can be very versatile and flexible. It is common to see sushi on the vegan section of Asian restaurants as vegetarian versions of sushi may be made in a million permutations and combinations without the use of any dairy products. Here are a few things to note while preparing your own vegan sushi recipe.
Rice: The Star Behind Sushi
Trained Chefs at sushi restaurants spend years, sometimes up to 5 years just learning to wash and cook the rice to perfection. The conventional thick grained short and sticky Japanese rice may be replaced with its Indian counterparts with similar properties. Usually, the rice, washed several times to remove the excess starch and then it is cooked by the absorption method in an electric rice cooker for perfection and held at a slightly warm temperature before use. The cooked rice is seasoned with salt, Mirin ( a sweet Japanese vinegar). One may intuitively recreate the taste with conventional vinegar and powdered sugar.
The Filling: Create Varieties of Sushi
Fresh vegetables like cucumber, carrots, asparagus, aubergine, crispy fried pumpkin, fruits, picked vegetables, mock fish, shiitake mushrooms, avocados, etc are all great ideas for replacing the seafood element. There are endless possibilities.
One may use whatever is tasty and convenient as a flavour/ visual enhancement on the sushi- mayo flavoured with wasabi/ mustard, crushed fried garlic, sesame seeds, crushed fried chilly, sriracha yogurt, herb cream etc.
Can be cut, light toasted on an open flame and stored in a dry airtight box until ready for use. The rolls can be conveniently closed by using a small amount of water at the edges to stick it. The standard accompaniments served are pickled pink ginger( Gari) light soy sauce( Kikkoman) and wasabi paste.
Don’t worry if the rolls are not perfectly shaped or have a few bits coming out. It gets easier with some practice. Remember to keep your ingredients spread as uniformly as possible, you roll as tight and well-shaped as possible and your flavours as true and honest as possible. And that is the recipe for all great sorts of amazing sushi.
Do let us know what you would use to prepare your very own vegan sushi recipe.
Chief Of Innovation, Plantmade
Also, if you still wanna learn more about sushi, check out our article on the truth behind salmon sushi.