Asparagus Sushi

The night before I moved into my new apartment, Fishy, Chaos and I took a stroll down State St, and had dinner at The Osaka House to celebrate my night of homelessness. There was a point where I had been to every sushi restaurant in Madison, but in the last 4 years several new places have emerged.  The Osaka House poised itself on being new, but after our visit it is merely a satellite restaurant of Edo Restaurant. Edo is located in Monona, and is where my coworkers and I go for sushi because it's the closest. Osaka House had the same new menus that Edo has. They even said 'Edo Restaurant' on the cover. But anyway, this is all good because Edo Restaurant is quite delicious.

I ordered a bunch of rolls that sounded delicious, and I noticed a super cheap roll under the vegetarian options: Asparagus Sushi, $3. Hell, how could I pass that up. Out of the whole night, I would say this roll was the stand out for me. Though, not because it was better tasting than anything else I had, but because I had no expectations for it. I mean, $3 and purely vegetarian? How good could it be?

But it was surprisingly good, and incredibly simple. Just a single Asparagus stalk in rice. Fuck, I could do that. I've tried making sushi before, with disappointing results, but how could I mess this one up?

Now that I'm settled into my new place, I took a look at a few recipes online, and found the following recipe for preparing Asparagus (<a href="http://embitca.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Cook-Asparagus">here</a>) and sticky rice (<a href="http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-make-perfect-sushi-rice/">here</a>). Make the two separate, and then combine.

Tonight, I invited two of my friends over, Kate and Fishy, and attempted to make them dinner. So, here's what I did, and here's what I learned:

Asparagus Sushi Recipe

Here are all the ingredients you'll need

Black Pepper, Salt (I used Garlic Salt), Rice Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Sugar (I used Honey), Olive Oil, Asparagus, Dried Seaweed (aka Nori), and Rice.

1) Make Rice

The first thing I did was make 2 cups of rice, because, out of all the steps, that takes the longest. I have a rice cooker specifically for this task, but you can make the rice however you want. Just make sure to wash and clean your rice, or else all the dust and dirt will get baked in and you lose a lot of flavor.

2) Prepare Asparagus

I laid out all my Asparagus on a flat baking pan. I covered the pan with some Aluminum Foil to save me from some extra clean up down the road. On top of the Asparagus, I drizzled some Olive Oil, doing my best to coat the veggies. Next, I did the same with a little bit of Garlic Salt. Followed by some Black Pepper. And concluding with some Balsamic Vinegar. With all the seasoning scattered on top, I started tossing all the Asparagus together to mix all the ingredients and to properly coat everything.

3) Roast Asparagus

Rather than steam or pan fry the Asparagus, I went with the Roasting route as that recipe suggests. I preheated the over to 400, and dumped the whole pan inside. After a while they start to simmer and smell really really good. After 10 minutes, I took a single piece and tried it. Not quite finished. We decided to leave them in there another 5 or 7 minutes.  We probably should have left it in there a little longer than that, but it turned out alright.

4) Sticky Rice Mixture

While the Asparagus were baking, I made the mixture for the sticky rice. In the little pot, I combined the 1/4 cup of Rice Vinegar, 1/4 cup of Honey, and 2 tbsp of Garlic Salt. I didn't measure any of this, I just eye-balled it. I turned on the stove to #4, which heated the mixture really fast. The recipe says to mix everything until the powder has dissolved in the liquids, and then you're done.

5) Sticky Rice

With the mixture complete, simply add it to the rice, and mix mix mix. While the White Rice is naturally very sticky, this mixture will start breaking it up a bit, and make the rice much more manageable, and delicious.

6) Combine!

Putting Sushi together is the easy, and the most fun part of this whole recipe. The more challenging parts (to me) are correctly preparing everything to put inside the sushi. To make sushi, start with the Nori, lay down the rice, put the ingredients on the rice, roll them together, and that's it.

Though, you might find that quite difficult just using your hands to place everything together. The rice will stick to anything dry, so the trick is to constantly wet your hands. You can have a bowl of water to dip your hands in, or I just use water from the tap.

Wet your hands, grab some rice, stick in on the Nori, and continue until you have a line of rice. Place the ingredients in the center most portion of the rice. With your hands, roll the Nori and completely surround the rice. Roll it all the way around so you have a tube. Surround the tub with the bamboo roller, and tighten it up. Hold it for a couple seconds so the heat can penetrate through all the layers of the Nori, and fuse it together. Then release, and you're done.

With a super-sharp knife, you can segment the roll into individual pieces. But my knife is somewhat dull right now, so we just chowed down on the rolls as is.

Lessons Learned, and solutions!

After eating that first roll, there were 2 problems...

The first problem was that you could hardly taste the asparagus. If you notice that first image under combining, I only used 3 stalks in a roll. The rice totally overpowered the sushi. To solve this I used twice the amount of asparagus, and it turned out so much better.

The second problem was that I didn't clip the asparagus. One step that I skipped from the Roasted Asparagus recipe was cutting off the fibrous wooden stem that cannot and should not be eaten. The video made mention of the point between food and stem was the snapping point. Hold on a stalk and break it with both hands. Where it breaks is where you want it separated.

After solving these two problems, I thought they turned out delicious. Though, I don't think my lady friends were impressed. This isn't exactly gourmet food. Plus, I don't have any furniture in my apartment, so we ate on my carpeted floor.  This was the third problem, I think. Also, if I had dishes, then we could've made use of soy sauce. Also, I was missing some wasabi and ginger.

But whatever. This is some delicious food that was easy and quick to make. Barring the 30-40 minutes it takes to make 2 cups of rice, everything else was about 20 minutes. And most of the steps can be done concurrently, so once the rice is done, you can start rolling. Though, you may want to wait 10 minutes for the rice to cool, or else you'll burn your fingers.

Also, going by this recipe, I yielded 7 rolls.





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