Veggie Rolls

I love sushi, but as everyone knows, it can get expensive. I’ve wanted to try and make it myself, but the process seems prohibitively difficult, and the ingredients are expensive. Add to that the fact that I’m scared if I use raw fish I’ll kill myself and Hubby, and it seems like a recipe for disaster. I have possibly invented a solution, however. There’s no rice or fish, but it is sushi-like enough to make my mouth happy, and that’s the only thing that matters. I basically stuffed some seaweed full of vegetables and sauce, and ate it, and it was great!

This is what you’ll need:

Nori seaweed: my normal grocery store has this in the “International” section. It’s $2.50 for ten sheets. It was a little cheaper at the Asian grocery store.
Veggies: I used sweet potato, avocado, carrot, raw cabbage, and cucumber. You could also use sprouts, tempura vegetables, or anything else your little heart desires. If you’re going to use green onions, I would chop them up and use them sparingly so they don’t overwhelm everything else.
Sauce: I used the Thai Hot Chili Mayo pictured above. It is simply mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha, so you can easily make your own. I found eel sauce at my Asian grocery store also, which would be amazing. I used teriyaki sauce for dipping. You can easily make this a vegan recipe by using Nayonnaise (soy mayo), and it’s almost raw vegan, although I don’t know enough about that particular diet to recommend a sauce.
Optional fillings: If you want you can add some chopped up scrambled eggs, cooked brown rice, fake crab legs, or sesame seeds. Hell, add cooked shrimp, I don’t care. Experiment, because this is much easier (to me) than making real sushi, so just try whatever.

In order to use sweet potatoes, you should cook them first. I attempted to cut one into long strips, and the knife got stuck. I persevered however, and it was still a big hassle. I have experimented since, and discovered a few tricks: 1) Buy long, skinny sweet potatoes, that are kind of small. 2) Bake them most of the way first, like in the microwave so it doesn’t take too long. 3) Now peel and cut them into strips. 4) A little goes a long way. I used one small sweet potato about the size of a banana, and that was enough for 3 of these rolls. What I actually did is cut this potato up as though I was making sweet potato fries, and bake them all in the oven on a cookie sheet. You can use either method, I just found the first method listed here to be easier, and it didn’t heat up the whole kitchen.

There are a few options for how to prepare your vegetables, but I think this is the easiest. I have this handy-dandy cheese grater that comes with different blades, but it turned out the basic cheese grater with the large round holes worked the best, so you can just use your normal cheese grater. I chose one big, fat carrot, washed it (rather than peeling, because that’s where a lot of the vitamins are), and grated it to nothing. This was way easier than I thought it would be, even with my weak, useless, T-Rex arms. I grated the cucumber as well, but this released a LOT of water. It was very fast, but then I had to drain the veggies on several paper towels to remove the water. If you don’t drain them the water will mix with the sauce in the roll and start to leak out creating a HUGE mess. Chopping the cucumber into long matchsticks seemed to eliminate this problem. I chopped up a little raw cabbage and cut the avocado into strips also.

Once you have everything chopped up, you can lay out your seaweed. I happen to have a sushi mat, but this is not a necessity. I did a few by hand and it worked fine. I spread the mayo onto the seaweed, leaving one edge blank for about an inch and a half. Keep your fillings in the mayo square so you can roll it easily.

I laid out my shredded veggies and sprinkled them with sesame seeds. If I had any eel sauce I would have squirted it on right here. Try to keep the veggies low, and evenly spread. We’re basically substituting raw veggies for cooked rice here. That’s good nutritionally, but then the whole thing doesn’t stick together the way regular sushi does. That only means you don’t slice it up in the end; just eat it like a burrito!

I have now added my avocado and sweet potato chucks. I tried to keep them relatively centered. I did a few tests of the rolling process to make sure I was not over-stuffing them. To roll this up, the first thing you need to do is rub some water on the blank 1 1/2 inch section. It needs to be damp to stick to the other seaweed. I just got my fingers wet and rubbed it (That’s what she said!!!). When you’re ready to roll, start with the side that’s away from the camera, the side where the mayo goes almost to the very edge. Roll that over the toppings. Try to make it pretty tight, but not so tight that things are squishing out everywhere. I rolled the far edge down so that the edge just touched the spot where the blank area of seaweed started. I then rolled the damp edge over top of this, pulling everything together snugly. I rolled it pretty much by hand, then used the sushi mat to firmly squeeze the whole thing together, but that didn’t seem that necessary. I have no clue if  I am using that thing how I’m supposed to or not, but now it’s covered in mayo, and I have to figure out how to clean it.

I did cut this one in half, but after this first one I just started eating them. I made one that was only seaweed, sweet potatoes, and spicy mayo and it was awesome. I also made a few where I tried to seal one end of the roll by folding the seaweed over itself, and those were a little bit successful. These things taste amazing, are easy and cheap to prepare, but my rolling technique will take some practice. If you want to add some scrambled eggs to yours for additional protein, I would scrambled 2 eggs with a tablespoon of water and some teriyaki or other sauce you like to give them flavor. You then cook them like an omelet, just letting it sit in the pan and cook into one solid piece. Let it cool, then cut into strips.

I want to experiment with more sauces, but I am currently completely enamored with this spicy mayo. Tempura flakes in there would also be great, but of course adds fat and empty calories. I used very cheap vegetables for mine, so I think my cost came out to around 50 cents per roll. Considering most sushi rolls are $4-5, that’s pretty cheap! Plus you don’t have all the carbs from white rice. There are tons of possibilities for these, and I can’t wait to try more.

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July 15, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool.

One Comment

  1. Look, Ma! No stove! | My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] Asian veggie rolls – These are a great, easy substitute for sushi, and now that I saw the pictures I wish I had one to devour. I guess I better go to the store! […]

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