Charity Keita sets out to make vegetarian futomaki for Sunday dinner and while no one ends up eating much of it, this leads to a brilliant epiphany.
I think seafood sushi is overrated. Now before you go up in arms, please take a second to hear me out: on the rare occasions that I am somewhere where the fish is something to write home about, I want to taste said fish in all its glory. When it comes to Japanese style seafood, this means serving it raw and undressed (sashimi), with a little bowl of soy sauce and wasabi on the side and sticky rice in a separate bowl.
Why go through the trouble of eating raw fish, if you are going to coat it in seaweed, rice, mayonnaise and heavens knows what else? All you accomplish is to successfully hide the amazing texture of the raw flesh and the delicate flavours that lie therein.
My contempt for fish sushi does not, however, extend to the concept of sushi in general. Far from it, I find there is something incredibly sexy about a rice and nori (toasted seaweed) roll. Be it a maki (regular roll), a futomaki (a fat roll) or a temaki (a hand rolled roll), if it contains some complex and exciting combination of flavours, I say, “bring it on!”.
It was in this spirit that I set out to make vegetarian futomaki as a starter for a sunday dinner we had organised the other day. Luan was set on sticking a pork loin and some potatoes in the oven and go down the traditional sunday roast route. Despite the incongruence between the two dishes, I decided that I was going to steam ahead with this foray into the world of homemade sushi. And steam I did: I went all out and cooked my rice in a bamboo steamer lined with banana leaves. Except I must have gotten something wrong -possibly the fact that my steamer was too small for its pot, so we were using cellophane to try to keep the steam in, which really slowed down the procedure- because before I knew it the potatoes were golden, the pork loin crackling and the sukuma wiki ready, while the rice was still the wrong side of crunchy. So much for my sushi starter!
By the time we had finished our roast, nobody had any space for a little rice roll, no matter how vegetarian or delicate. So the guests left, sardonically commenting on how good my sushi was, and we sat down to watch Mad Max III. Turns out there was a silver lining to this umpteenth culinary mishap of mine. The next morning, as I was wondering what to pack for lunch, I had an epiphany. Forget vegetarian sushi, how about leftover pork sushi with gravy?
Sometimes a meal disaster can turn out to be a meal discovery. Who would have ever guessed that the delicious apple and carrot gravy that Luan had concocted, would turn out to make such an excellent lining
to my pork, carrot, cucumber and avocado futomaki roll?