If I could transport you back in time to last summer when I was at my retreat, you will just know why this is such an essential piece of sushi advice! Let me help you avoid an hour or more of sushi-making stress…
Picture this. It’s Thursday night at my retreat. It’s been 35 degrees or so all week. So we are toasty, chilled, detoxed and well in to the swing of things. Barefoot and raggedy-haired. Tanned and freckled. Juiced and energised. Detoxed and feasted. Chilled and meditated. Yogi’d and bendy. Thursdays are great (like any week we are over the hump of Wednesday already!). And Thursday night is ‘Cacao Ceremony’ night. Imagine being as excited as you might have been with the build up of attending your first ’80’s disco (just me?)
My 3 top tips for perfect raw vegan sushi every time!
Now Thursdays also are rather special because – Thursday is cacao day all day! Cacao day because we have a fantasticissimo (made up word and very biased, I know) chocolate making workshop in the (air conditioned, wahoo!) kitchen and an evening cacao ceremony. We have had samples galore and, I tell you what, we are a bit high and happy! (This can happen often at my retreats!) because of the stimulant qualities of the raw cacao bean, and just because it’s a happy place!
Following a cacao high is sometimes a cacao slump (a bit like coffee slump I guess!) when the workshop finishes at 4 (ish, I am always late!). This means that if supper is late on cacao day I know that I could have some very edgy, slightly irritated cacao-retreaters on my hands (I know, I was late by 20 minutes once for supper on cacao day and we all got the hump!) I know that our guests have 90 minutes of yoga before supper (cannot be late for that) and I have a very short window to clean up the kitchen of chocolate mess (yip) and turn things around, and create a plentiful supper table of stunning delights.)
This particular Thursday I was, most definitely, running late. Because we were having so much fun in class! And it was almost 5pm before I had time to breathe – and get supper ready.
This, as anyone will know, is not enough time at all to cater for 10 retreaters plus staff and get things back on track!
There was only one thing for it – vegan sushi! Quick, do-able, tasty, nutritious and a fast turnaround.
I was wrong. You can see from the pics that I messed a lot of it up.
Wrong because when you are rushing to deliver, your hands aren’t as steady. Your focus is all over the place. Nothing is where it should be and it all goes to pot. After sixty minutes of frantic sushi making (over 100 rolls!) lots of muttering, and screaming to the cacao goddesses and the sushi gods) (I almost flung my wraps towards the wall at one point!) I realised three secrets to perfecting raw vegan sushi.
Firstly, you have to breathe and relax…
- Vegan sushi rice (aka cauliflower, usually) is lighter and more manageable when it’s instead made with root vegetables in a spiralizer and then quickly whizzed in a food processor, rice is less like hard bullets of veggies and more fragile and easier to work with. For example make courgetti, then rice it, daikon noodles, then rice it, carrot spaghetti, then rice it…) If you can’t spiralize the veg of choice then make sure you crumble it down in your food processor to a fine powdery rice (but before it gets too wet and mushy)
- Vegan sushi rice is better when it’s a mix of veggies: courgettes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beetroot & more (all the root veggies are great) and when possible all spiralized first and then finished off with a quick whizz in the food processor. You can even use finely shredded red cabbage. That looks glorious!
- Vegan sushi rice doesn’t constantly fall out (and thus make you cry) if you make raw vegan sticky rice: mix it with an avocado paste first – making it sticky and manageable (this is so essential I just can’t tell you!) If you think the nori wrap is just going to ‘hold on’ to your rice, you are very wrong.
Oh and one more thing for luck – spread the sticky rice over the whole base of your nori wrap to create hold, and put your fillings on one edge (closest to you) then start rolling. Trying to roll a nori wrap with rice just along one side is stupidity (I have been there many times, don’t do it. Unless you are making skinny rolls…)
So anyways, now you have my top tips try this recipe. Essentially you need nori wraps (raw or cooked slices of seaweed that make the green outer circle of sushi). They can be square or oblong. Square-ish sheets tend to give you a ‘swiss roll’ effect in the rice as it’s rolled, rectangular or oblong ones don’t. I prefer those (plus easier to roll I find?!) So if you have a square my advice is to cut it in half if you don’t fancy the swiss roll look. You also need: lots of raw sticky rice (fine cauliflower, or other veg, rice mixed with blended avo paste) and strips of your favourite ingredients: cucumber, bell peppers, marinated mushrooms, mushroom paste, sunflower seed paste, sesame seeds, buckwheat, chili, ginger, chopped herbs… pretty much anything you want to put in your sushi!
I wouldn’t recommend things like celery so much as when you go to slice your sushi things can get a little stringy and that’s not good…
In this recipe I am not going to put ingredients because it’s fairly intuitive, this is very much about process. It’s a great dish to use up all the veggie bits and bobs in the fridge.
- nori rolls (if square your sushi will come out like a swiss roll (a green whirl in the rice) or if oblong it won’t. Both ok
- raw vegan sticky rice (your choice of rice blended with avo paste: blended avocado and a dash of lemon juice or Udo’s oil or both
- slices of spring onion (cut lengthways about the length of a finger)
- slices of cucumber (cut lengthways about the length of a finger)
- fine slices of raw ginger (or ginger paste – to taste)
- slices of any veggies you have hanging around
- alfalfa, or other, sprouts
- sesame seeds
- tamari for dipping
- Making sure that your worktop is clean, clear and dry, have your ingredients prepared and ready in bowls
- Make sure your knife is sharp (can it slice a tomato without messing it up? if not sharpen it or use a serrated or bread knife)
- You don’t need a rolling mat but if you have one use it
- Spread the sticky rice over the nori sheet (leaving about 2 cm edge all around)
- Scatter a fine layer of sesame seeds over your rice (about 1-2 heaped teaspoons or to taste)
- Line up your ingredients in a row about 2 inches thick (along the edge closest to you)
- Turn the filling end over and roll it over onto the sticky rice
- Making sure it’s tightly packed, keep rolling over until you get to the edge
- If your nori wrap won’t stick at the edge use a little water or lemon juice to create a seal (imagine a sticky envelope edge)
- You should have a big sushi sausage
- You can either cut the sausage in half with a diagonal cut in the middle or make lots of little sushi noris (main pic)
- Either trim the ends off to keep it neat or stack the scruffy edged sushi decoratively on a plate
- Unless you make these every day things will always fall out, get messy and fall apart… keep going! This is food fun and you will perfect a sushi that works for you!
- Get everyone involved in the sushi making! Kids love it, our guests love playing and all this fresh food tastes incredible
- I can’t always promise a cacao ceremony for dessert (unless you are with us on retreat of course!)
You can see from my pics that we had lots of sloppy sushi with bottoms falling out! But you know what, still tasted orgasmatronic.
Enjoy! And let me know if you make some!
Keeping it juicy & raw