Get in touch with your Zen side with a Sushi dish for amateurs

A tasty sushi dish recipe and a simple fruit salad to follow, from Di Curtin
Get in touch with your Zen side with a Sushi dish for amateurs

This Sushi for Amateurs dish is made with readily available ingredients. Nori seaweed sheets, sushi rice and rice wine are now stocked in most supermarkets.

THE art of Zen is practiced all over Japan. This way of living, which has its origins in the Mahayana Buddhism of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, includes self- restraint and deep meditation, making the body a temple to all things good, calming and wholesome.

These days, the word Zen has been a popular choice for Japanese restaurants in Europe, usually forging connections between calming ambience, stylized minimal decor and clean eating. Sushi is very often to be found on the menu, becoming more and more popular as a casual and sassy option for a night out.

Dedicated sushi bars offer moving conveyor belts of different types of sushi, which diners help themselves to as they pass by.

The appeal of sushi is associated with its lightness and balance of tastes, the typical ‘sweet-sour’ flavouring of the special sushi rice, and the healthiness of fresh, often raw vegetables and fish.

I have a daughter who would happily kill for a plate of sushi, any time of the day, any day of the week. It’s often a snack or dinner option for her at home, and as she follows a gluten-free diet, it makes perfect eating. She is no sushi master, but given we are in a pandemic, she has had to learn to knock up a basic plateful of sushi rolls (known as Maki Sushi) to keep her addiction satisfied until she can go back to buying her favourite sushi takeaways in Cork city!

This weekend’s Sushi for Amateurs is made with readily available ingredients. Nori seaweed sheets, sushi rice and rice wine are now stocked in most supermarkets.

To fill the sushi rolls, I’ve used defrosted large cooked king prawns which I happened to have in the freezer from Christmas, but you can use fresh. Cucumber sticks add colour and crunch. Ripe avocado is also good. Very little cooking involved, except the rice.

Making sushi seems to naturally invoke a sense of zen-like calmness as you fill and roll!

In the absence of pickled ginger and wasabi which is normally served with sushi, I used Korean Kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish spiked with chilli, which makes a good side accompaniment here, along with soy sauce for dipping. My daughter uses gluten free soy sauce, also readily available.

For pudding after sushi, it would be a sin to contaminate the body with over sugary creations!

Zen-like clean eating can continue, with a simple fruit salad. Banana, fresh pineapple and mango make a tropical combo with winter sunshine in the tastes. Sticking to the sweet sour theme, I’ve used a zesty lemon and honey dressing to liven up the fruit but keep things simple.


Sushi For Amateurs

Ingredients (serves 4) 250g sushi rice 2 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar 1 tsp caster sugar 4 sheets nori seaweed 16 king prawns, defrosted if frozen ¼ cucumber, cut into thin sticks Method Rinse the sushi rice and place in a pan. Pour over the water.

Bring to bubbling, then simmer gently until the water is absorbed and rice is tender. Watch the water levels so the pan doesn’t dry out and burn on the bottom. Stir occasionally.

Alternatively, use a rice cooker, following the instructions for sushi rice.

When the rice is cooked, stir in vinegar and sugar. Leave to cool completely.

To make the sushi, cut the nori sheets in half lengthways. Each sheet makes two rolls per person.

Take one half sheet and place some rice at the top narrow end. Pat it out evenly to cover about one third of the sheet.

Halve prawns lengthways. Arrange prawn halves and cucumber sticks lengthways across the width of the sheet, on top of the rice.

Carefully roll the nori sheet up tightly, to enclose rice and fillings.

Dampen edge of sheet to secure. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make eight rolls.

Rolls can now be eaten straight away or wrapped tightly in clingfilm and chilled till ready to use.

Serve with a pot of soy sauce for dipping and some kimchi or pickled ginger and wasabi sauce, as preferred.


Banana and Pineapple Salad with Sweet Sour Dressing

Ingredients (serves 4) 1/2 ripe pineapple 1 ripe mango 4 bananas 2 tbsp runny honey Juice and zest of 2 lemons Dried coconut flakes for decoration (optional) Method Peel and core pineapple halve and cut flesh into slivers. Place in a serving bowl.

Peel and stone the mango by holding the fruit flat on a board and running the blade of a sharp knife horizontally against the large flat stone.

Turn over to repeat on other side then slice off any remaining flesh on the stone.

Cut mango flesh into slices and to pineapple in bowl.

Finally. peel and slice bananas on the diagonal. Add to bowl.

Heat honey lemon juice and zest over low heat till honey is runny.

Pour over fruit in bowl and toss. Add a little more honey to taste if necessary.

Leave to infuse for 10 minutes before serving in bowls with dried coconut flakes scattered over for decoration.

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