Saturday, December 5, 2009

sushi bowl

I love sushi. A typical sushi night for us involves walking (or driving, if we're feeling lazy) to the local sushi restaurant, perusing the vast menu while sipping a martini or Japanese beer at the bar, ordering our rolls to go, and bringing them home to enjoy. I've never been brave enough to actually make the sushi at home. But I think perhaps I've found a fix for that.

I was at my mother's house a couple weeks ago browsing online for healthy recipes. I came across a posting from Heidi Swanson at 101 cookbooks from a couple of years ago featuring a "sushi bowl" recipe. It wasn't the recipe itself that excited me so much (though it did sound delish), but rather the concept. Sushi deconstructed. In a bowl. I had to try this!

My first go at it took place while I was at my mother's. The combination was super simple: brown rice, tofu, toasted nori, sesame seeds, and green onions, dressed with a little soy sauce. For me, it was one of those dishes that had the perfect balance between great flavor and healthfulness - after eating it I felt more healthy, energetic, and ready to face the world than when I began.

It turns out that this feeling probably wasn't just in my head. Sushi (and traditional Japanese food in general) often works to bring together a harmony of the five flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. The basic philosophy behind it is that each flavor has its own respective important effects upon the internal organs. So when you eat them in combination, in addition to balanced taste, you get balanced positive effects throughout your body. (Note: this is absolutely my lay-woman's interpretation of what I've read!)

Back to my initial sushi bowl. Two of the five flavors were underrepresented in my opinion: sweet and sour. I vowed to remedy this in my next attempt, which took place earlier this week. Here's how it went:

Sushi Bowl
Serves 2

1 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. short grain brown rice
6 oz. firm tofu, chopped into 1/4" cubes
1-2 sheets nori
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 persimmon, cut into small chunks
1 tsp. white sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp. black sesame seeds, toasted
wasabi (optional)

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp. agave
1 tsp. rice vinegar

Cook rice according to directions.

Mix sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust flavors if needed. Add tofu and allow to marinate while rice cooks.

Toast nori in a dry skillet over medium heat until it turns bright green.

Once rice is done cooking, allow to cool slightly in a large bowl. Add tofu with sauce, crumbled nori, persimmon, and green onions. Mix to combine. Put in individual bowls. Top with avocado slices, sesame seeds, and wasabi (if desired).

This time, the five flavors were in harmony. (My only mistake was a bit too much wasabi...)

Part of the beauty of sushi bowl concept are the practically limitless combinations of ingredients. Pull out your favorite sushi takeout menu for inspiration!


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