Among my purchases at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey, were Japanese produce I rarely see outside of New York City’s Sunshine Mart off St. Mark’s Place. I was so excited to see yamagobo, or Japanese pickled burdock, because I have never eaten those outside of Sushiden. The pickled radish, or takuan, was more familiar, and of course, so were the shiso leaves.
These three ingredients inspired me to make my own makizushi at home. I learned to order them from the Dr. after every sushi and sashimi meal at Sushiden. He just asks the chef for the three ingredients, and voila, small hand rolls are served. A few months ago, I had picked up some soy skins in lieu of nori, or Japanese roasted seaweed, and I was glad to finally use them here. (Don’t worry, I’m not turning vegetarian. I bought them because they looked really pretty.) They didn’t add anything special to the rolls and I still preferred the nori over them, but they made colorful presentation when served with fried lotus root.
I’m not going to get into the proper way to make sushi rice and all that, but you’ll need a Japanese bamboo mat to make respectable rolls. In a pinch, you can user Saran wrap, too, just don’t let your Japanese friends know.
yamagobo, drained, chopped
takuan, drained, julienned
shiso leaves, chiffonade
sushi rice, cooked
mirin, or rice wine vinegar
1. Place nori on a Japanese bamboo mat. The mat should lie so it rolls away from you, not from side to side. Keeping your hands moistened with vinegar-water, put a scoop of sushi rice in the center of the nori and spread evenly on top of the seaweed. Spread a streak of wasabi across the middle if using, then add a layer of the vegetables across the center of the rice.
2. To roll, fold the bamboo mat so the filling is enclosed in the center of the nori, then moisten the top edge of the nori and seal the roll tightly so that it won’t fall apart when sliced.
3. Remove the mat from around the roll, seam side down. Slice the roll into one-inch rounds straight down using a sharp knife or serve as small rolls to eat with hands.