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April 17, 2012: Vegetarian Gunkan

April 17, 2012

I wanted to try my hand at gunkan-style sushi. Yoshio has made them before, but not me, until  tonight. Gunkan is an oval-shaped sushi with a strip of nori (a flat sheet of the dried leaves of a sea plant called laver) on the outside, sushi rice on the inside bottom, and with some garnish on top. Gunkan means “battleship” due to its vague resemblance to an iron battleship. The garnish is usually fish roe, jellyfish, or some other fish. There are a few vegetarian garnishes for gunkan like spinach and nato (fermented soybean) but I wanted a more striking color for mine, to mimic the nice color and texture of fish roe.

Pepper Garnish:

Cut in half a large red bell pepper, deseed and remove core. Finely dice. You will have  about 1/2C. In a non-stick pan, add pepper and about 1 Tsp. corn oil and fry over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes until the peppers are softer, but keeping the nice, red color. Towards the end, add 1/4Tsp. mirin and remove from heat. Add 1 Tsp. white or red miso to 1 Tblsp. warm stock and whisk until smooth. Add to peppers and mix.

Sushi RIce:

Wash 1C. sushi rice 4X in cold H2O until H2O runs clear. Add 2C. H2O to rice along with 1 Tsp. sal de mer and bring to a boil. When rice reaches a boil, stir, reduce heat to low, and cover for about 20 minutes until rice has absorbed H2O.  At the end of cooking, add 1Tblsp. mirin and 4 Tblsp. rice vinegar, remove from heat, stir in 2 Tblsp. black sesame seeds and cover until you are ready to assemble gunkan.

Take a sheet of nori. You will notice that there are small scoring on the inside of the nori. These are exactly 1″ and are perfect for gunkan. Trim these with very sharp scissors and you will get 5X strips of nori 1″X 7″. The shiny side is the outside of the gunkan. Make and oval with the nori strip and seal the end by lightly moistening the last inch and press ends together. Fill each nori oval with about 1 Tblsp. of the rice, and lightly tamp down (I used the butt end of a butter knife.) Top with pepper garnish. Ideally, you would still have a small lip of the nori above the garnish.

Of course, red pepper is not a classic Japanese veggie, but I found this dish to be tasty and visually appealing.

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