17 October 2015

Skin Food: Cucumber 'Sushi' Rolls, Fried Aubergine in Tamari & Dipping Sauce

I was a sushi newbie up until a few years back - the idea of raw, cold fish was something that never floated my boat (pun unintended) and whilst I don't eat any sort of seafood now, vegan sushi has become one of my favourite things to chow down and I only have my boyfriend and our friends to blame - they were the ones who dragged me to my first sushi-tasting. In fact now we're double-date locals at our near-by Japanese restaurant and although they poke fun at my fish-free rolls, I think they're pretty darn amazing, so much so that I decided to rustle some up at home and I thought you might like a little look in too...

I've found Nori sheets quite hard to track down, and when I do, they can be kind of pricey, so I went for the cucumber-wrap method which turns out to be just as tasty, stuffed with rice, avocado and chilli, accompanied by a tamari dipping sauce and a side of fried aubergine. 

For the cucumber 'sushi' rolls (makes 18):
2 cucumbers, peeled
1 avocado, diced
1/2 mug brown rice, cooked
1 red chilli (option), chopped
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

For the fried aubergine in tamari (serves 2):
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 large aubergine, sliced from top-bottom in circles
1 chopped green chilli

For the dipping sauce:
5-6 table spoons tamari
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

To make the cucumber wraps, top and tail the cucumber then using a potato peeler, run it from one end to the other, evenly to create one long strip. Repeat until you reach the middle - I find without the strength of the skin they don't hold together so well, so I turn the cucumber round and do the same on the other side until met in the middle, the remainders of the cucumber can be reserved and used for something else. From one end to the other, roll the cucumber slices to create little rolls. Fill with a small amount of brown rice and make a well in the middle for a piece of diced avocado and red chilli if using. Repeat until all rolls are finished and top with a sprinking of the sesame seeds. You can use cocktail sticks to hold the rolls together but I find compacted together on a plate works just as well.

To make the fried aubergine, heat the olive oil in a pan and fry each slice of aubergine until golden brown, flipping them over and repeating on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil and arrange on a plate. Top with chopped green chilli and drizzle over tamari.

To make the dipping sauce, blend all of the ingredients together in a bowl and serve in a dipping dish.

Four words remain, chop sticks, dip and enjoy!

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