Monday, January 16, 2012

Vegan Caterpillar Roll

Vegan Caterpillar Sushi Roll
This blog was inspired by my recent visit to San Diego.  I searched for a vegetarian restaurant in the area using the Internet and was directed to Sipz Fusion Vegetarian Restaurant.  After reading a few reviews, I was interested to try their variety of vegan sushi.  I haven't had sushi for a while and was excited to try several kinds of vegan sushi from this restaurant.

Unfortunately, when we arrived to the restaurant during lunch time, we were told that they didn't serve vegan sushi until after 5 pm.  Bummer! What a disappointment!  We had to go home that day and won't be back to Sipz that night.  Apparently, the sushi chef is a different chef from the restaurant's.  He rented a space in the corner of the vegetarian restaurant to make sushi every night.  Oh well!  We ordered other dishes and had delicious and yummy food.  Don't take me wrong, Sipz is a really good restaurant and it was crowded, too.  We'll be back some day for the vegan sushi.  We consumed other lunch dishes that day instead.

Hence, I still didn't have any sushi.  So I decided to take their sushi menu home.  It says on the menu that their Caterpillar Roll is "Everybody's favorite!":   I decided to create my own Caterpillar Roll at home and got the idea from the menu which says:  Inside - teriyaki flavored shitake mushroom, yam, cucumber.  Outside - avocado, sesame, teriyaki sauce.

I also want to take this opportunity to introduce a different kind of rice for sushi rice.  In the past, I blogged about making sushi here and here.  I was using short grain brown rice and quinoa.  However, DH thinks that he still likes sushi better with white short grain sushi rice than brown short grain brown rice.   Since I am trying to avoid white short grain rice, I came up with the idea of using semi brown short grain rice.  The Japanese successfully created a healthier  semi brown short grain  rice called Haiga.   Haiga rice is neither white or brown, it is in between or so called semi brown.  The rice bran was meticulously removed and the nutritious rice germ was left intact. It is perfect for a healthy sushi rice.

Vegan Caterpillar Roll
Makes 2 large rolls

Printable Recipe

Teriyaki Sauce:
You can always purchase a store-bought teriyaki sauce.  Below is what I came up with.
1/3 cup Kombu dashi (recipe below) or vegetable broth
1/3 cup Japanese soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Dark Mushroom Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Aji Mirin or other kind of mirin
2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1 tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tsp.  Cornstarch

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small pot.  Stir to combine thoroughly.
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low and simmer for 6 minutes.
  3. The mixture will thicken slightly.  Let it cool.
Kombu Dashi:
You can always use vegetable broth.  However, I found that adding kombu and dried shitake mushrooms will add a lot of umami.

6-8 cups water
1 large piece of kombu
8-10 dried shitake mushroom
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Take out kombu and shitake mushrooms  (remove the stems and use the mushrooms for other cooking such as this roll).

Haiga Sushi Rice:
1 1/4 cups Haiga Rice
1 1/2  water
3-4 Tbsp. Organic Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Aji Mirin or other kind of mirin
3/4 Tbsp. Agave Nectar
1/2 tsp. salt

  1. Rinse haiga rice, drain.  Combine rice and water in a medium sauce pan and let it soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Cover tightly and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30-40 minutes until water is absorbed.  Remove from heat.  Note: you can also cook this rice in a rice cooker with 'semibrown' setting.
  3. Dump the rice into a wide shallow bowl. Combine rice vinegar, mirin, agave nectar, and salt in a small bowl.  With a wide spatula or a rice paddle, slice into rice at a 45 degrees angle while pouring the rice vinegar mixture.  Continue to combine and slice rice clumps until all the rice vinegar mixture is combined with the rice.  
  4. Use a magazine or a paper fan, fan the rice to cool while stirring for about 5-8 minutes.  This method will combine the flavor and give the sushi rice a nice gloss.
  5. Cover with a damp kitchen towel while preparing other ingredients.
Caterpillar roll ingredients: Avocado, cooked shitake mushrooms, teriyaki sauce, cucumber, yam

Ingredients (Caterpillar Roll):
1 large ripe Avocado
4-6 cooked shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced lengthwise
1/2 yam (Jewel or Garnett yam)
Haiga sushi rice, recipe above
2 -3 Toasted nori for sushi
Toasted sesame seeds
Teriyaki sauce
Sriracha hot sauce
  1. Steam yam in a food steamer for 20 minutes. Check for firmness while steaming as each yam is  different in sizes.  Don't let it be too mushy.  It needs to be cooked but still firm.  Let it cool, peel, and slice lengthwise similar to the cucumbers.
  2. Add 1-2 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce to sliced mushrooms.  Set it aside.
  3. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, peel and slice the avocado horizontally as pictured below. I learned from this youtube video on how to arrange the avocado on top of the roll.

Rolling the Caterpillar:
I use a bamboo sushi rolling mat that I bought from a Japanese market.  I covered it in a plastic bag so the rice won't stick to it.  I will explain the process below.  However, you can watch this youtube video showing the process of rolling a caterpillar sushi.  It is actually quite fun making this roll.

Put sushi rice with wet hand on bamboo sushi mat.  Spread and pat it down.

Add nori on top and arrange the filling (yam, cucumber, teriyaki flavored shitake mushrooms) on the bottom half.
Roll with the bamboo mat tightly until a firm roll is achieved (see youtube for a demo).
Add avocado slices in the same direction and rolled into the rice roll.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cut in pieces with a sharp clean damp knife.
Arrange on a plate and drizzle with teriyaki and sriracha hot sauce.
Sliced caterpillar roll on its side.
If it seems that it is hard to make this dish, it is actually not if you use short cuts by buying a store-bought teriyaki sauce and avoiding to make the kombu dashi. This dish is quite easy to make once you got the hang of rolling sushi and it is quite delicious and filling.


denial1385 said...

are you on twitter? i don't use google or feed aggregators? thanks for the awesome recipes, I'll try your caterpillar rolls! cheers!

Spice Island Vegan said...

Sorry I am not on twitter yet. :-) Thanks for posting.


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