On a blistering cold night at Genesis Farm the kitchen was warmed by the press of bodies eager to learn how to roll their first Norimaki roll. You may be familiar with sushi in it’s raw fish form or the commercial vegetarian version with a few sticks of julienned cucumber and avocado. If so then you are missing out on a mouthful of flavor when nori seaweed is wrapped around an abundance of delicious ingredients. Timing the class was my biggest challenge as the Japanese favorite dish, Vegetable Tempura, was also on the menu. Plus, there were gluten-free students, which challenged me again to find a simple gluten-free tempura recipe they could enjoy. I did manage to put together a menu of recipes that had the sold-out group chopping, rolling, frying, eating and licking their lips. Next day I found this lovely E-mail waiting in my In box: “Delia, I had such a great time last night.  I am still thinking about the sushi and wishing I had some leftovers. I wish you well in all of your endeavors and look forward to the next time.”

Rolling up sticky rice and vegetables requires a bamboo rolling mat, a small bowl of water to keep fingers wet, and a very sharp knife to slice the roll when finished. Otherwise, I leave it your imagination and sense of adventure to create Norimaki Rolls perfect for lunch, dinner or a quick snack.

Yield:  6 servings

6 sheets nori seaweed
1 cup sushi rice
2 cups water
1 tsp. Ume Plum vinegar
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 carrot
½ package tempeh
1 cucumber
1 ripe avocado

1. In a medium saucepan cook the sushi rice according to package instructions. When done gently stir in the Ume and rice vinegar. Spoon rice into a baking dish and spread out pressing down to compact. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, slice the carrot into long, thin strips and blanch in boiling water.
3. Slice the tempeh into 3”x1/4” strips and blanch in water. Set aside.
4. Peel, seed and slice half a cucumber into long, thin strips and set aside.
5. Slice open the avocado, remove the pit and slice into long thin strips, set aside.
6. When ready to make nori rolls, take 2 sheets of nori and put them shiny sides together. Turn on the gas or electric burner to medium high and pass each side over the flame a few times until crisp and shiny. Set aside and do the remaining sheets. Working with one sheet you can wave it over the flame (yes, touch the flame, but do NOT linger), toasting both sides.
7. Place a bamboo sushi mat on the cutting board and lay a sheet of nori on the mat.
8. With a spatula, slice and lift a 6.5”x3” piece of rice onto the edge of the nori closest to you, but about an inch away from the very edge.
9. Choosing from your vegetables arrange along the open edge and up against the rice. Then using your fingers as a guide roll the mat, nori and vegetables over. The nori will fold into the rice and vegetables, but the mat stays free, yet continues to assist in rolling. At the end, brush some water onto the edge with your fingers and roll up to seal the package.
10. To cut the rolls, slice on the diagonal with a sharp knife. Best to clean the knife between slicing each roll.
11. Serve on a sushi platter with dipping sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi paste.

1 tsp. tamari soy sauce
1 tsp. pickled ginger water
1 Tbs. water