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16 Oct 2012

Vegan MoFo 2012 – Spicy sushi from The Conscious Cook

No wasabi here… Cajun spices give these rolls a little kick

Chugging along to mid-week and taking a break from salad, I try a healthier, rice-free take on maki rolls.

Vegan MoFo 2012

The Conscious Cook by Tal RonnenI admit that Tal Ronnen’s, The Conscious Cook was an impulse purchase. I was in a discount bookstore checking out the cooking section, and among the Women’s Weekly and other mainstream titles, there it was, marked down to just $8.

I’d only ever seen the book on Amazon and as it was going for a bargain price, I couldn’t pass it up.

When I brought it home, I went through the recipes I’d seen mentioned in many positive Amazon reviews. They looked a bit time consuming and quite “gourmet”. I was also put off to see that some included pre-packaged items that I can’t get here (Gardein for example). Then there was the use of cashew cream (I was still avoiding nuts back then, and no good blender).

So although the book looked very attractive, The Conscious Cook sat gathering dust on my bookshelf. Until Vegan MoFo that is!

I wanted to make something fairly light and healthy for dinner. The weather has started warming up and I felt like an alternative to salad.

I picked these sushi rolls as they were a bit different and didn’t look too complex to make on a weeknight.

These rolls include quinoa instead of white rice, and are filled with spicy mushrooms in Cajun seasonings – a spice mix I haven’t used before.

Quinoa maki with avocado and cajun portobello fillets

Ingredients - Quinoa maki with avocado and cajun portobello fillets

The maki ingredients included mayonnaise, sambal oelek, cooked quinoa, rice vinegar, sugar, nori sheets and cajun portobello fillets (which are from separate recipe).

I cooked the quinoa first and left it to cool while I flipped pages to make the portobello fillets.

The portobello mushrooms were sliced thickly and supposed to be “de-gilled”, which I assume means cutting the brown underside off. I thought this was a bit over the top, so skipped that step.

I prepared the portabello marinade which included onions, garlic, cajun seasoning and wine (leftover Prosecco), and white wine vinegar. It had to simmer and reduce down for some time.

Patting dry the mushrooms

After this, the mushrooms marinated in the liquid for an hour and were then dried with paper towel and tossed in more cajun spices. I tried the seasoning mix at this point it was hotter than expected!

The mushrooms were then supposed to be blackened on a cast-iron grill but I just used the BBQ and left them to cool.

BBQing cajun portobello fillets

The mayo and sambal olek were mixed together and at this point, I was concerned that the rolls might be too spicy.

Ready to roll

I’m a lot more confident rolling sushi since I came across this great sushi-rolling tutorial by The Raw Chef, Russell James. The trick is always making sure your nori is right down at the base of the mat.

Rolling the maki

After spreading a thin layer of quinoa on the nori, I layered the portobello strips, avocado, spring onion and spicy mayo and rolled the maki. I found working with the quinoa was far less sticky and messy than sushi rice. I didn’t expect quinoa to hold together in the rolls as well as it did.

The recipe says you will make 5-6 rolls, but I made 4 rolls exactly with no leftovers.

The four sushi rolls ready to cut

I sliced the rolls and served them with tamari and pickled ginger.

Served: Quinoa maki with avocado and cajun portobello fillets

Served: Quinoa maki with avocado and cajun portobello fillets

The maki rolls were delicious, and I think I prefer quinoa in sushi over rice. The mushroom and chilli mayo were not as spicy when combined with the other ingredients so I would be safe to serve these to other, less spice-adventurous folk.

I’ve already made raw sushi using parsnip, but the quinoa had a nice, chewy texture and didn’t go soggy or dry the next day.  In future, I will definitely be taking the idea of using quinoa in sushi and mixing up the fillings.

Nice one Tal!

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