Looking for sushi recipes that do not involve the need for fresh fish.
June 18, 2009 9:13 PM   Subscribe

Recently, I've been working on learning how to make remotely decent sushi rice, and I'm getting not too shabby at it (It tastes good at least), and messing around making some really weak sauce sushi rolls for myself and my kids. Mostly Tamago Maki. I live FAR away from a decent source of seafood, so what are some other things I can put in my Sushi that do not require fresh seafood. Lets also exclude "Krab with a K" for this exercise too. If I could get the raw fish, I would totally be using it instead, but some times a man has to make due.

So far I have the following rolls I have came up with:
Canned Tuna and mayo with Sirracha.
Tomago Maki (going to try nigiri tommorow too)
Kappamaki - I can't get Japanese Cucumbers around here though, will it suck with normal ones?

Any other recipes of suggestions would be most welcome!
posted by JonnyRotten to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Ham. Or even Spam, if you're feeling adventurous. It's pretty common in the Korean form of sushi, gimbap.
posted by bardic at 9:19 PM on June 18, 2009

Avocado. It is one of my faves.
posted by oflinkey at 9:20 PM on June 18, 2009

Generic cucumbers work great, definitely try it out.

I generally cut it into eight long strips (quartering it and then halving each slice), trim off the skin, and roll it up. But I usually use the cucumber just to add a bit of crunch, not as the main ingredient, so you should try using two strips if the roll has no fish in it.

I'm afraid I don't have any other suggestions -- I've got access to sushi-grade fish, so I've mostly just tried to replicate normal sushi. Please post back if you find any other good combos!
posted by voltairemodern at 9:21 PM on June 18, 2009

I had a friend who made some sort of sushi with raw steak - a very tender cut (I'm sorry, I don't recall what it was), marinated in some sort of soy sauce-like stuff. It tasted a little better than raw tuna (and I like raw tuna) and was considerably less expensive. And no, no one got sick.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:25 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Spam Musubi!
posted by padraigin at 9:32 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oflinkey, just avocado and nothing else?
Totally going to try the cucumber tomorrow when my friend comes over to play some board games.
Bardic, I think I need to pick up some deli ham tommorow anyways, so I may try that. Not sure what else to match it with, maybe cream cheese to mellow out the saltyness?

The other thing I have, is a tin of Artic Char that a Japanese fellow at work gave me, he said to just try it on white rice, so I was considering trying that as a filling, but I don't know if I am adventurous enough.

I thoroughly have my kids addicted to Tomago, they pretty much beg for me to make them Tomago and rice more often then pancakes. I make mine just a bit crispier then most recipes I have seen. Here is my recipe for anyone interested:
2 Eggs, a dash of sesame oil, a shot of soy sauce, and just a bit of Oyster Sauce. Stir it up with chopsticks, and slap it into a hot pan containing a bit of hot vegetable oil (just enough to lightly coat it). If making it for sushi, stir it a little at first, until it starts to firm, then flip it and let it crisp up a bit. If making it for rice, just scramble it with the chopsticks into big "curds" then wang it onto a bowl of fresh steamed rice. Then personally, I put a few dashs of Sirracha on top and stir it up. Kids are not such fans of that much spicey for breakfast.
posted by JonnyRotten at 9:33 PM on June 18, 2009

I love me some shrimp in sushi rolls. Can you at least get that?
posted by All.star at 9:38 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: I've avoided spam my entire life.
I may get some tommorow. OMG that recipe is making me hungry. Must go put rice in the cooker and set the timer so I can make breakfast Maki in the morning.
posted by JonnyRotten at 9:38 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Horrible frozen shrimp would be the best I could locally get.
Luckily in two weeks I am going back home to Upstate NY to visit, and oddly enough even though the town I live in is smaller then the one I live in here in Ohio, I can get fresh seafood with less then a half hour drive. I'm considering bringing my Zojirushi and sushi supplies up with me and going nuts for the week.
Here, the best I can get is up in Toledo, and that's a little over a hour away.
posted by JonnyRotten at 9:42 PM on June 18, 2009

Avacado and peanut with a sweet sauce.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:52 PM on June 18, 2009

As you may know, a great sushi chef will apprentice for about 8 years in Japan just making rice (ok! I exaggerate a little - but you get the point;)

Here is my at-home success, culled from 2 different expert sources...

!. Put rice in the pan (honestly - I've found any short grain will do here.) Finger in the pan, touching the top of the rice, water up to the first knuckle on your finger. (YMMV with this depending on your gender - this is a Korean grandmother trick;)

2. Bring the pot to a high boil, and then reduce heat - a lot. If I judge too much water, lid off. If water is adequate, lid on. Weight down the lid if necessary for your cookware - this is ideal, anyway.

3. When most of the h20 is gone - turn off the burner and let the covered pot do the rest...


Now for the sticky part...(and you may know that back before refrigeration, it is likely the acid in the rice and the additional properties of wasabi and salty soy sauce helped kill bacteria in the raw fish...)

Anyway. You want a few tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar + Mirin (optimal) or raw cane sugar disolved completely in the vinegar - then paddle this mixture into the cooked rice - the idea is to incorporate the flavoring and expel steam from the cooked rice, therefore cooling the entire mass. Best results if you move the rice into a cooler vessel before incorporating the vinegar/mirin. Ratio of vinegar mixture to rice depends on the amount of rice cooked - experiment to taste, but figure less of the vinegar mixture is better to start - you can always add more. Please do not mix the rice so much that the starches in the rice become creamy like risotto - this would be bad form!


Once you have great rice - go for it!

Shrimp, avocado + rice wrapped in nori - well done!

Smoked salmon + anything you chose + nori & rice

Canned or pouch salmon + mayo & flavoring (lemon or hot sauce) + rice, wrapped in nori. Add any cucumber.

Can you get frozen prepared eel? (Any Asian market has this.) The flavor is sweet - kids will love it. Rice + nori tastes best with eel, but you can add avocado or scallion if the taste doesn't please.

Any frozen whitefish cooked + vegetable (or not) + rice, wrapped in nori.


Best of luck!
posted by jbenben at 10:07 PM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Cream cheese!

Many sushi restaurants serve something called a Philadelphia roll. The formula varies but I've found it usually salmon + cream cheese + cucumber. The cream cheese blends really well with the smoothness of the salmon, and the cucumber adds some crunch to vary the texture. I've found in my brief adventures with home-made sushi that cream-cheese works well with a lot of different ingredients because it adds some tangy delicious umami flavor.

I've also had some luck with portobello mushrooms. I slice them *really* thin and marinade them for an hour or two in some combination of soy-sauce, sesame oil, and ginger.
posted by arcolz at 10:12 PM on June 18, 2009

Smoked salmon, cream cheese, wrapped up in rice covered nori, rice side out, rolled in toasted sesame seeds.
posted by hortense at 10:16 PM on June 18, 2009

Kewpie Mayo and Sriracha mixed together is usually refered to as "Dynamite Sauce" mix this with some salmon (canned or "fresh") for a spicy salmon roll.

Also, don't be afraid to step away from seafood. I've made rolls with everything from teryaki chicken to prime rib.
posted by piedmont at 10:20 PM on June 18, 2009

Strips of deep-fried tofu, cucumber, avocado & yellow bell pepper with a little honey/maple syrup. *salivates*
posted by gooddoggy at 10:23 PM on June 18, 2009

I use the following veggies cut into thin strips: white mushrooms, green onions, carrot, avocado and cucumber.
posted by in the methow at 10:36 PM on June 18, 2009

Fried whole garlic cloves are phenomenal in a maki roll.
posted by torquemaniac at 10:38 PM on June 18, 2009

I'm a longtime violator of any and all sushi prep etiquette, but my sushi is generally delicious. I especially like adding things to the rice water like matcha powder. I also like using pearl barley in place of rice sometimes.

Have you made temaki (hand rolls)? It's basically a nori-sushi ice cream cone, sans ice cream, avec delicious fillings. Sometimes I'll marinate some thin-sliced lean beef in a sweet chili-soy-lime marinade and pan fry. Goes very well in temaki (not so good in makizushi when your knives are dull).

Other fillings and toppings that I use or have used:
various thin-sliced, crisp vegetables (celery, cuke, carrot, peppers, green tomato, radish(!!)
I'll soak a few sheets of nori in water, shred them, add bean sprouts and a bit of sesame oil

sometimes I just love drizzling the sushi with sesame oil

I've been trying to perfect an inverse tomago for the longest time. It's basically makizushi completely encased in egg. Once I have the right vessel to cook the egg in, it's going to be awesome.

Most importantly, just have fun with it!
posted by zerokey at 10:45 PM on June 18, 2009

All of these are good suggestions. Just remember that it doesn't matter if it's "real sushi." Or it's sushi to you and that's good enough. Here in Japan, people will take all kinds of liberties with sushi, too. I've seen hamburger patty sushi at some restaurants--kids are kids the world over.
posted by zardoz at 10:46 PM on June 18, 2009

nthing spam masubi, i could live off them (i dont like spam that much though). An important part of a good masubi is sprinkling some furi kaki of your choice in it. brings a good thing 10 levels higher. I have never had a spam masubi for anything besides a snack / breakfast though.

You said no "fresh seafood", upon the happen chance you got some frozen salmon fillets that you throw on the grill...Save the skin! I am a huge fan of saving the bbq'ed skin, refreeze it until ready for sushi and then pop it in a toaster oven a few minutes. You get a nice smokey, chewy crunchy extra to add to rolls.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 11:23 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have done fresh asparagus with thinly sliced cold roast beef (cooked rare) which was excellent. If you have a vege peeler with a julienne blade, then do lengths of carrot and add anywhere you want colour and crunch.

If you have a Korean or generic "Asian" store handy, trawl through the freezer section for interesting stuff - you might find unagi (aka BBQ eel) as jbenben said earlier, or tobiko (flying fish roe - usually bright orange but there's a green version which is also nice). Korean stores carry all sorts of great versions of kim chee (pickled cabbage) and they are delicious in a roll. It's not too hard to make your own, either.

Rehydrate shiitake mushrooms and slice thinly. Dress with sesame oil and put in the roll. If you have mirin or sake, you can put some in the soaking water for extra ooomph.

Cook chicken breast fillets in strips with soy sauce and a little sugar and sesame oil. Also works well for finely shredded steak.

As zerokey says, have fun with it!

(God, now I am so HUNGRY!!!)
posted by ninazer0 at 11:39 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

how about roast duck with a little fresh spinach

whatevering the cream cheese/smoked salmon combo...yum
posted by prettypretty at 11:55 PM on June 18, 2009

I've had some very fresh, summery sushi rolls consisting of a salad or the contents of a Vietnamese style egg roll (lots of fresh leaves, spring onions, julienned carrots etc, often with a sesame or other dressing). Great to end a sushi dinner on.
posted by tavegyl at 1:05 AM on June 19, 2009

When I run out of fish I make inside out sushi rolls with just avocado and cucumber. When you add the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce later you'd hardly miss the fish.
posted by gfrobe at 1:28 AM on June 19, 2009

Teriyaki chicken with asparagus! This is the basis of the "Stanford roll" that I used to get in a sushi restaurant in Palo Alto. I think you can also sub avocado for the asparagus.

I've always wanted to try making sushi with thai sweet chili chicken.

To make gimbap you really need dakun (pickeld daikon) but it's ok if you don't. Can you get kimchee? Kimchee with teriyaki beef is yum. You could also add some steamed spinach mixed with a few drops of sesame oil and sprinkling of sesame seeds too. Then to get super fancy, some julliened carrots. Then to get super super fancy, a very thin omelet cut into strips.

SPAM! Yesss....

Smoked salmon + cream cheese, definitely! You could try smoked haddock too.
posted by like_neon at 2:17 AM on June 19, 2009

A friend and I once invented Australian Breakfast Sushi Rolls with nori, rice, thin omelette, crispy bacon and avocado. The major diversion from sushi form was that the rolls were dipped into Worcester Sauce.

Unconventional but yum.
posted by pipstar at 3:42 AM on June 19, 2009

Anything you can tempura can be tempura'ed in thin strips and rolled into sushi. That's pretty much the basis of vegetarian sushi here in the Northeast. Just this week I had a pumpkin tempura roll, which is a delicious variant of the sweet potato roll.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:27 AM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can of tuna + pouch of salmon + miracle whip + avacado and or cucumber = great cheap roll.
posted by deezil at 4:52 AM on June 19, 2009

In Oz, the most common sushi I see is in maki restaurants that have displays of rolls that are unsliced, and you would buy one or two for lunch. They are kinda a hand roll concept, but the shape of a maki roll. The contents are often something cooked, like tuna salad, or breaded chicken strips, or yam tempura. I've learned that you can roll anything in rice and and call it a roll, so your imagination is the only limitation.
From doing research for a project that I'm involved in, I've found that there exist italian rolls with goats cheese, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, and mexican rolls with chicken or shrimp and cheese and chipotle sauce, even a jalapeno popper roll. Go crazy.

Regarding fresh fish, if the only reason you don't want to go this route is unavailability, then that is easily overcome.
What many people don't know is that most sushi fish is flash frozen to kill bacteria. Most typical sushi bars get the fish delivered frozen, in blocks or in single serve options. Some food service that specialize in Japanese foods have websites that anyone can order from, so if you are interested in doing the "real" sushi thing, you can probably get quality fish delivered to you.
Try Catalina offshore products. www.catalinaop.com or JFC, at JFC.com. There are others, just use your googlefu.
posted by newpotato at 5:12 AM on June 19, 2009

The sweet potato tempura roll is by far my favorite. I think it's best if the tempura is still a little bit warm when served.
posted by Who_Am_I at 6:04 AM on June 19, 2009

There's Tamago, which is an "omelette" for sushi. Delicious.
posted by jedrek at 6:15 AM on June 19, 2009

I'll throw in another vote for Catalina. Lovely fish, well-packed.
posted by magicbus at 6:25 AM on June 19, 2009

"Horrible frozen shrimp would be the best I could locally get."

Just a note that unless you live within sight of a dock --- close enough to buy fish direct from a day boat --- all anyone gets is frozen shrimp. Shrimp goes south in 24-48 hours; they usually freeze it onboard. Any frozen stuff you'd buy at Costco or whatnot it probs about the same quality you'd get in a restaurant, even on the coast. If you have the ones that are whole --- not peeled and deveined --- that's pretty good quality to be going on with.

Says me, who actually doesn't like shrip or sushi that much but will bend in order to make a mean Jumbalaya.
posted by Diablevert at 6:31 AM on June 19, 2009

Get the unpeeled, deveined big shrimp and thaw them in water before cooking it. I usually dump a bunch into a colander and put it under the tap while I wash and peel them. It may be just me, but I think that the "shell on when frozen" shrimp taste better.
posted by cathoo at 6:51 AM on June 19, 2009

Tempura crunchies can add a lot to non-fish rolls. Just get some tempura batter and sprinkle it into a pot of boiling oil, then scoop it out after it turns golden brown. I like them especially with veggie rolls.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:03 AM on June 19, 2009

Making sushi? Have fun with it.

posted by SirNovember at 7:07 AM on June 19, 2009

I'm a big fan of putting oshinko (japanese pickles) and goma shio (sesame seasoning) and shisho fumi (beef root seasoning) in my maki rolls or mixing a little bit in the rice for onigiri, which if your kids like the maki, they will probably also like.
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:18 AM on June 19, 2009

Oh, all of the above ingredients can be found online if you are not near a market that carries them.
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:19 AM on June 19, 2009

What many people don't know is that most sushi fish is flash frozen to kill bacteria. Most typical sushi bars get the fish delivered frozen, in blocks or in single serve options.

IAA sushi chef*. While this is true, there are many different grades of fish, and not all are suitable for raw service. There's no reason why you should avoid cooked or otherwise preserved (smoked, brined) fish if the taste strikes your fancy. Some of the most popular special rolls I've made have been the unorthodox things— the stuff that's not just a minor variation of the sushi place across town v. the one downtown. Get in a habit of visiting your local market (or global market if you have one) and picking things up that strike your fancy.

Try sauteed portobello or shiitake mushrooms, grilled asparagus, and thin slices of prosciutto. Or smoked salmon, minced capers & green onions, and julienned cucumber strips.
I like fried center cut bacon strips, julienned cantaloupe, and avocado.

If you have a mandolin slicer handy it's a breeze to make perfect veg strips. Discard the seedy core of cucumber or any similar vegetable. Similarly, dry off any ingredients that are more than slightly moist before they go in the roll.

I don't recommend at-home tempura unless you have a fryer handy— it's extremely difficult to keep the temperature consistent if you're frying lots of ingredients, and it's a huge hassle if you're only frying a few. Plus anything tempura fried doesn't keep in refrigeration.

Best of luck and happy rolling.

* in the US, with mixed Japanese/American training
posted by a halcyon day at 7:24 AM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

You can find fried tofu pockets at most Asian food stores and they are great for making one of the simplest forms of sushi, inari sushi. Just open a pocket and stuff it with sushi rice or whatever else you want to add. No rolling necessary.

Pickles also make good sushi fillers, standard dill or garlic pickles will work, but it's they are even better if you can find pickled daikon, plums or asian-style cucumber pickles.
posted by Alison at 7:44 AM on June 19, 2009

Can you find frozen teriyaki eel in vacuum packages at your local Asian supermarket? If so, cooked eel sushi!
posted by of strange foe at 7:47 AM on June 19, 2009

Can't believe nobody's mentioned canned crab. You don't need the giant crab legs or anything; I've found that the filling of real-crab sushi I've eaten is pretty similar to the canned crab I use for things like crab cakes, etc.

They have varying grades based on the sizes of the lumps of crab, but it will all flake apart anyway so you're fine not buying the high-end jumbo lump stuff.

Don't forget about sweet potato, either! I bet that would make an awesome roll with a little tamago and green onion.
posted by Madamina at 8:41 AM on June 19, 2009

First, it's "make do," not "make due." Sorry, just had to get that out of the way.

Try using lightly steamed carrot and asparagus, with cream cheese if you like it. Yum. How about an edamame bean or two (shelled, of course)?
posted by infodiva at 1:34 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try canned unagi (Japanese eel)? Cucumber for kappamaki, if you want to be traditional.

http://www.koamart.com/shop/13-2692-canned_food-japanese_broiled_eels__hamanako_unagi___4oz.asp Here's an example of canned unagi.
posted by Charmian at 7:52 PM on June 19, 2009

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