Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sushi Napolean, for kicks

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.

Sushi Napolean

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
1/3 cuke
1 whole avocado
Shredded carrots, small handful

Dipping ideas:

Avocado/Wasabi Sauce
Teriyaki Sauce
Sriracha/Nayo Sauce
Sesame Seeds

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.



  1. i love it!!! what an innovative way to eat sushi!! will definitely be bookmarking this napolean sushi idea :)

  2. What an idea. I have two left hands, so I'm not very skillful person and I will definitely prepare sushi your way :-D Thanks a lot for sharing.

  3. Beautiful! I'm not the greatest at rolling sushi either (I make delicious food, but not pretty food) so I'm going to try your way soon.

  4. This is a fantastic idea and it looks delish! Now, I've just gotta get my knives sharpened.

  5. @Junia - thanks love! Methinks I'll be doing this a ton this summer. If I could only get the pieces smaller, it would be PERFECT finger food.

    @Joanna, Claire - heck ya! Maybe we should all three get one of those awesome rice molds. Guaranteed success.

    @Michelle - Seriously, I felt like I was beating that notion to death, the keep your knives SHARP thing, but it is soooo essential when slicing sushi.

    @veggie - hooray! glad you liked :)

  6. Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing the process of making this artful creation!

  7. I must try this. It looks so simple. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Are you freaking kidding me?? This is absolutely the most ridiculous and awesome thing I have seen! Of course I'm going to have to try it now. :)

  9. @erin - my pleasure!

    @eLeStudio - pretty simple, yup. Tricky getting even layers of rice once the nori starts piling up, tho.

    @Jill - hehe well thanks love! Let me know how it goes!

  10. What a brilliant idea! This looks so good.

  11. When I saw this, I about DIED. Nori rolls are one of my favourite foods, and since I'm currently studying abroad in France, I haven't gotten my fill of beloved Japanese cuisine since March. But I'm already planning a welcome-home party for August, and this will most certainly be on the menu.
    P.S. I love your blog and will be adding it to my new blogroll, if you don't mind of course. :)

  12. OMG! I just love this! It looks delicious too- such creativity!

  13. Totally digging the layers in this sushi!! It's so vibrant and fresh! Great pics Julia!

  14. @Teniesha - love the blog name! Of course I don't mind dear! I was there (well, Paris, anyways) a few years back and went to the ONE vegan joint three times in 4 days. I feel your pain.

    @Nicole - thanks love :)

    @BwB - ha thanks a ton! Kind of a mouthful to eat, but cute AND tasty is always win.

  15. This is a really great idea. I love making veggie sushi rolls, but a lot of the time when I go to slice them, they become sushi salads. Lol. This might help with that!

  16. Adorable! I think I would be way worse at this than at rolling sushi (which I actually do pretty well at) but this is definitely a more "special occasion" version!

  17. Gorgeous! And happy, cuz i cant roll to save my life! lol

  18. What an awesome sushi cake. I am totally dig on that. I love to try different sushi.

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