You know how when you start cooking all your meals and you’re getting better at it and then you decide to go out to eat and instead of enjoying your meal you’re thinking how this could be better? Yeah... unfortunately, I do that. The good thing is, lots of delicious homemade meals come out of it!
When it comes to sushi, there isn’t a big enough selection in Cairo for those who eat plant-based. I’m also always skeptical of how much sugar and table salt is used in sushi rice. So, 9 times out of 10, it’s homemade maki rolls for me. Since nori sheets are pretty easy to store and I almost always have some leftover rice on hand, it just becomes a matter of finding proper fillings and quickly whipping up some teriyaki sauce.
A quick disclaimer: this isn’t a sushi rolling tutorial. There are thousands online and I’m not a professional anyway. The best advice I can give you is to practice, practice, practice. The number of time I had to heat rolls that had fallen apart is countless. But now I can effortlessly roll and I’m gradually getting better.
For this recipe, I made two different maki rolls that go beautifully together. One is filled with butternut squash and kale and the other has tofu, carrots and avocado. I topped both with some homemade teriyaki sauce and a sprinkle of sesame. As always, let us know if you end up making them. We love receiving your feedback!
Prep time: 10-20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
For the Maki Rolls
2 nori sheets
1 cup brown rice
Tofu, I used 4 finger-length slices
Tamari or soy sauce
Olive or sesame oil
Butternut squash, I used a palm size piece
1 leaf of kale, I used purple kale
For the Teryaki Sauce
¼ cup of water
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp of coconut sugar
1 clove of garlic, crushed or minced
Fresh ginger, I use a piece as small as a garlic clove and I slice it thinly
1-2 tsp corn or tapioca starch
Step 1: You need to begin by prepping all the ingredients, butternut squash takes its time to roast so I’d suggest you begin by placing it in the oven on medium to high heat. It takes about 30-40 minutes to soften. You can make sure it’s fully cooked by placing poking it with a fork, if it goes all the way in smoothly then the butternut squash is cooked.
Step 2: While the butternut squash is roasting, start preparing the rice and the rest of the ingredients. Instead of using rice vinegar and sugar and all those ingredients to make the rice, I just add a little bit of filtered water to a pan and I add the rice. I stir and flatten in with a spatula, so it becomes pretty sticky. Once the rice is warmed up and a bit mushy, set it aside.
Step 3: Marinate the tofu in just a splash of tamari or soy sauce in a pan. Set aside.
Step 4: Remove the stem from the kale leaf and steam it for about 5 minutes. Thinly slice the carrots. Slice half the avocado into 6-8 long pieces.
Step 5: Add a drizzle of oil to the tofu and fry for 5 minutes on each side. Once done, set on a towel or kitchen paper to blot the excess oil.
Step 6: Now that all the ingredients are ready. Let’s make the teriyaki sauce. You’ll place the water, soy or tamari, sugar, garlic and ginger slices in a pan and bring to a boil. In a small cup, combine the starch with equal parts of water and set aside. Turn down the heat, strain the mixture, return the liquid to pot and add the starch and stir, stir, stir until you reach the consistency of honey and then remove the pot from the heat.
Step 7: Assemble the sushi by placing the nori sheet on a rolling mat or a kitchen towel. Spread a thin layer of rice, leaving 1 cm from the top and bottom and then add your filling to the bottom of the sheet. For one I used butternut squash with kale and for the other I used tofu, avocado and carrot slices. Roll, cut and voila. I drizzle some teriyaki on top and sprinkle the sesame seeds over them. Serve with tamari or soy and pickled ginger and wasabi.
You can repeat this with as many rolls as you want. I find two rolls enough for me as lunch or dinner.