Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kale Norimaki Crunch Rolls


When the weather warms, something I tend to crave is sushi.  Something about it hearkens to cooling down after a long, hot day under the sun, awaiting the cover of nightfall and the pleasure of nightlife.  Back in the day, come May I was such a frequent flier at my local sushi bar that they would know me by name.  I would proudly order in Japanese, and the chefs happily took to broadening my vocabulary (with both savory and unsavory phrases, no doubt).  It was a transporting experience, allowing me to leave behind the stresses of school, work, and/or everyday life, and for a meal, I could imagine I was a jet setter passing through Tokyo or Nagoya, sampling the local cuisine.

While at one point, eating out would almost always involve a Japanese restaurant, as my diet and my life have changed, I found myself having sushi less and less.  In fact, the last time I was at a Japanese restaurant was over a year ago. Being vegan, gluten-free, and an extremely infrequent consumer of rice, it simply doesn't make sense anymore.

But as the last few days have involved a sudden spike in temperature, sparse clouds allowing us to revel in the sun's bear hug, witnessing the whisper of Summer escalate into a freestyle chorus of cannonballs into the deep end, the spritz of sunscreen, the sizzle of the grill, the sound of air conditioners and fans abuzz, and the thud of a volleyball being saved from a sandy doom, I find myself with that familiar craving after a long, hot day.  So my inspired solution was this super simple, super delicious nori roll with kale, hummus, cucumber, carrot, scallion, and crunchy chip crumbs.  

I wanted both sushi and salad.  So I thought, "Why choose?"

While it may not help to facilitate a fantasy of losing one's self in a Japanese metropolis, it can definitely help transport you on a journey to The Canary Kitchen, tasting food that makes my mouth, my body, and my spirit happy.  And, that, is quite a trip.


Crunchy Kale Norimaki Roll
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time:  5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time:  none
Cooking Time:  none
Yield:  each roll make 6 pieces

sushi nori sheets
baby kale greens 
carrot, julienned
cucumber, sliced
green onion
your favorite hummus
your favorite chips
fresh lemon juice

Easy Dipping Sauce:
1 part gluten-free tamari
1/4 part toasted sesame oil
1/4 part lemon juice
chopped scallion

What you'll need:  bamboo rolling mat, straight edged chef knife, cutting board, small cup of water, small mixing bowl

1.  Place nori sheet on bamboo mat, shiny side down.
2.  Lightly spread hummus on bottom 1/3 of the sheet (closest to you).  Arrange cucumber slices about one inch from bottom, top with carrot and crumbled chips, placing one or two green onions above cucumber slices, allowing the tips of the green onions to peek out beyond the edges of the nori sheet.
3.  Layer baby kale greens on top of previous vegetables, seasoning lightly with fresh lemon juice.  In the photos, I used about 1/2 cup kale for each roll, but in other variations I have used up to 1 cup.  
4.  First roll mat to firmly enclose ingredients, then continue to roll slowly to create a nice compact roll that is uniform in thickness.  Before reaching the final roll, spread a little hummus on the top inch of the sheet to help seal it.  Release roll from bamboo mat.
5.  To slice, place tip of chef knife in water.  Invert chef knife upwards and lightly strike the bottom of the handle on your cutting board.  This will send drops of water down the length of the knife's blade.  First slice the roll in half, and then placing the rolls next to each other, slice two more times to create 6 pieces total.  Wipe knife and repeat wetting of the blade as needed, doing your best to allow the weight and moistened sharpness of the knife to cut the roll, as opposed to pushing down or employing a sawing motion.  [If the latter is the case, may I suggest a new knife.]
6.  To prepare dipping sauce, loosely combine tamari, sesame oil, lemon juice, and scallions in a small mixing bowl.  Add sriracha, sambal, or thinly sliced serrano pepper to up the heat if desired.

Beautiful even before rolling it up.

Mean greens piled high.

Release the nori roll! [cue crash of waves against the rocks]

Clean cut.


Soooooo easy, and also extremely adaptable.  Cucumber and carrot are classic norimaki fillings, but if you'd like to venture off the beaten path, you know you don't have to ask me twice   Add kim chee, shaved purple cabbage, daikon, roasted sweet potato, mango, zucchini, sub spinach and/or collards for the kale, used toasted pumpkin seeds for the crunch, etc., etc….  Whatever floats your boat, by all means, float it.

As the Summer approaches, I hope inspiration strikes you to enjoy this recipe in the company of loved ones, cool drink in hand, as the music plays softly in the background, angled light fading as the suns says, "Good Night."

Itadakimasu.

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All the Best,
Jonathan

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