Vegetable Quinoa Maki Roll

I’ve had my fare share of sushi, the kind that is “Japanese-inspired” but far from “authentic”.I loved it for years (and if you forced me to eat it today, I probably wouldn'tcomplain about it!). As teenagers, my best friend and I, would devour deepfried, avocado loaded, sauce drenched monster rolls religiously. Sushi is was our thing. Every time we get together as adults, we end up at random sushi places, reminiscing about the good old days over bottles of sake and sushi boats. I hold those early years of sushi loving close to my heart. These first bites of foreign foods lead to an insatiable culinary curiosity, restlesly waiting to discover foods beyond rice, beans, and plantains.

Many years passed between senior year takeout sushi and my first bite of authentic, Japanese food. The second sushi awaking happened three years ago at a tiny Japanese restaurant, tucked away in a residential street in Downtown Brooklyn. All it took was a bite of their perfectly balanced vegetable roll for me to fall head over heels with sushi all over again. 

When you walk into this place, you immediately get the sense that good food is made here. With bare walls and a tiny counter for a kitchen, Hibino creates exciting daily menus and delicious Japanese classics. Their mission is to ensure everyone feels at home. We became part of the Hibino family immediatly. For the past three years, Hibino’s host, Hinata, has welcomed us with the same warm, welcoming smile, and the servers know to swap the soy sauce for tamari.

My order rarely varies: a classic Japanese salad, salty and sweet with a couple potato chips on top for crunch; a fresh vegetable maki roll, loaded with tangy pickled vegetables and creamy avocado; and an addictive egg omelet who’s sweet flavors become exemplified when dipped in salty soy sauce. Hibino led me into appreciating vegetarian sushi. And I am forever grateful to them for giving me sushi back!

20150225_QUNOA MAKI_05.jpg

This recipe is Tasty Plan’s interpretation Hibino’s vegetable roll. Red quinoa, avocado, pistachios, and egg omelette are wrapped inside a salty, ocean-y nori sheet. When soaked in soy sauce, all the mild flavors found in these ingredients become activate for an exciting, flavorful bite. The contrasting textures marry beautiful: sweet, fluffy omelet, crunchy pistachios, and creamy avocado, contrasts quinoa’s heartiness beautifully. This bold combination of textures elevates your traditional sushi roll to the next level allowing your taste buds to sing with delight and savor every second.

This recipe is for the brave of heart that won’t mind getting it all wrong at first, then mastering the art of sushi rolling for a lifetime. Give homemade sushi rolling a try!

Vegetable Quinoa Maki Roll

Makes 2 rolls

Cook time: 30 minutes

To make quinoa:

  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
  • Drizzle olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • Egg omelet
  • 2 large lettuce leafs
  • half and avocado, thinly sliced
  • Handful shelled pistachios, chopped
  • 2 nori, seaweed sheets
  • Tamari or soy sauce for serving, to taste

To make the quinoa, place quinoa in a sieve and rinse under running water for a couple of seconds. Drain and place in a pot with one cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Let cook, uncovered until most of the water has been absorbed. Cover, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Quinoa is ready when translucent. Add a teaspoon of vinegar and hemp seeds and mix together with a fork. Let cool for a couple of minutes.

To make omelet, place a skillet over medium heat. Add drizzle of olive oil and heat through for a couple of minutes. Whisk egg until eggs and whites are well incorporated and fluffy. Pour whisked egg into skillet and cook turning half way for five minutes.

To assemble sushi, pour water in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to roll. Place nori sheet on top of either a kitchen towel or (if you are fancy and have the equipment) a bamboo mat. Scoop about a half-cup of cooked quinoa onto one of the nori sheets. Thinly spread it throughout, leaving about and inch strip along the furthest edge from where you intend to start rolling. Add a lettuce leaf; half the omelet, cut into one inch wide pieces; a quarter of a thinly sliced avocado;  and chopped shelled pistachios. Evenly distribute all ingredients throughout the width of the nori sheet. Starting from the edge closest to you. Roll the nori into itself tightly until you reach the end. Dip your finger in the bowl of water and wet the uncovered edges of the nori sheet with them. Finish rolling until the edges have been sealed together. As you roll make sure to use enough pressure to hold all the ingredients together within the nori, but not too much to squish everything out.Using a sharp knife, cut roll into six pieces. Serve immediately with soy sauce or tamari, fresh ginger, and lots of wasabi.