I'm not an accomplished sushi roller - avocado squishes out on me, the middles of my rolls have gaps and so, whoops, there goes the cuke. I'll get better at it, methinks. But I wanted to try something different.
This stratified sushi works with most anything - roasted veggies, greens, whole cloves of roasted garlic, cream cheese, fresh stuffs like cukes, blanched asparagus, avocado. Remember to keep your toughest veggies at the bottom, however, so the slicing of the rest of the layers doesn't flatten your avocado/soft fillings.
Kind of birthday-cakey. Awesome.
EDIT - my lovely pal Nick let me in on a little secret this morning - this is technically Oshizushi, and they even have equipment you can buy to make slicing your "cake" less gut-wrenching. So if anyone out there's wondering what to get me for my birthday....
It's asparagus season over in these here parts, so I went with your standard ACA + C - Asparagus, Cucumber, Avocado and Carrot. Feel free to change stuffs up, however.
1.5 cups sushi rice, washed
2.5 cups water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
4 sheets nori
15-20 think asparagus spears
1 whole avocado
Shredded carrots, small handful
Let's do this.
Cook your sushi rice for 20 minutes on medium low until all the water is absorbed (or use your awesome rice cooker, either way). Let steam 5 minutes, remove to bowl, and stick that sucker in the freezer for 15 while you assemble your fillings.
Slice your cukes thin, 1/8 inch or so, salt lightly, and set aside.
Scoop your avocado and slice thin, about the same as the cukes, salt lightly, and set aside.
Set some water to boil and blanch your asparagus for 3-4 minutes, until bright green and a little softened. Chill in icewater. Remove woody ends and set aside.
Take your rice out and toss with your vinegar and sugar. I rarely heat my vinegar and dissolve my sugar in it first - I'm so scandalous. If you'd prefer, feel free.
Lay out a sheet of nori and press about 2/3 cup rice into the nori, leaving a 2 cm border around the rice. Press your thinly sliced cuke into the rice (or whatever thick, hard veggie you're using).
This works best if you have two sushi rolling mats, but if not, grab a plate, lay out another sheet of nori, and repeat the rice spreading step above. Turn over and press the riced nori onto the cukes, aligning the nori.
Gently press another 2/3 cup rice onto the 2nd layer of nori. You'll feel things squish around a bit underneath - just be gentle and don't worry too much about making it perfectly even. Lay your asparagus out in a flat layer. Press your carrots in and around them. On your other mat or plate, rice another sheet of nori with another 2/3 cup rice, then turn it over and press it onto the asparagus and carrot layer.
Another 2/3 cup of rice, gently pressed onto the nori, then add your avocado in an even layer. Once more, rice the last sheet of nori with 2/3 cup rice on the other rolling mat, turn it over, and lay it over the avocado layer.
Cover with a sheet of wax paper and a wide, heavy plate. Press the sushi for 10-15 minutes, using extra weight, if ya need:
(That, my friends, is a gallon-sized bottle of Frank's Hot Sauce. No, I'm not joking.)
Here comes the tricky part.
Sharpen your chef's knife. Trust me - this sucker is tough to slice.
Remove the weights and plate, careful - you might need to be gentle when removing the wax paper.
Wet your knife. Leave your water running a little tiny bit and grab a piece of paper towel.
Trim the edges of your napolean so that the border of plain nori you left on each sheet is gone, and the edges are clean.
Run water over your knife and clean the sushi remnants off with the paper towel.
Slice the napolean 4 times the wide way, drawing the knife through the cake and pushing gently down with eat cut. Wet and clean your knife after every cut. Make sure you feel your bamboo mat at the bottom at the end of each cut. Tough stuff, I know, getting through that last layer of nori can be tricky!
Slice 3 times the shorter way. Toothpick the pieces before moving them - you don't want to leave anything behind.
Really good as is, or dipped in sauce, soy, teriyaki, wasabi, et all. The sharper your knife, the smaller the squares can be - but don't go any bigger than I've described or there's no way you're fitting that sucker in your mouth.
I really dug on the geometry of this little dish. All lines, color, cross sections.