It’s fun to roll your own. Sushi, that is. But it takes a bit of practice. I make sushi rolls, called makizushi, occasionally, and it always takes a couple to get the hang of it again. More often, I make this rice salad. It has the flavors and textures that make sushi so popular, and it’s a snap to put together. It’s cool and refreshingly light with no oil or other fat in the dressing, perfect for sweltering summer days.

For the rice:

  • 2 c. Japanese short-grained (sushi) rice
  • 2 1/2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. seasoned (sushi) rice wine vinegar

Wash the rice in a colander under cold running water until the water runs clear. Combine the rice and the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook the rice until all the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, use a rice cooker according to instructions.

When the rice is cooked completely, but before it becomes mushy, turn out onto a large shallow bowl or platter, tray, or sheet pan. Immediately drizzle the rice wine vinegar over the rice. Toss gently but thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula, being careful not to mash or break up the grains of rice. Cool to room temperature. Makes about 6 cups.

For the omelette:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce, preferably Kikoman
  • 2 tsp. sugar

Whisk the eggs together with the soy sauce and sugar. Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Add the egg mixture and reduce heat to low. Cook until the eggs have set. Cool to room temperature, then cut into cubes.

To finish the salad:

  • 1-1 1/2 lb. tuna, at least 1 inch thick
  • 1/4 -1/2 c. pickled ginger, julienned (cut into thin strips)
  • 1 c. EACH of a variety of vegetables according to your preference and freshness, not more than 4 c. total. Suggestions: snow peas, daikon, scallions, radishes, bean sprouts, cucumber, avocado*, julienned carrot, chives or garlic chives and zucchini
  • 1 sheet of Nori, ( the Japanese seaweed used to make sushi rolls)
  • For the sauce:
  • 1/4 c. EACH soy sauce, and lemon juice
  • 2 T. wasabi (Japanese horseradish), or more or less to taste
Sprinkle both sides of the tuna lightly with salt. Spray a heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) with cooking spray and place over high heat. When the skillet is very hot, sear the tuna for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side, depending on the thickness of the tuna. It should still be rare in the middle. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Cut whatever vegetables you’re using into bite-sized pieces and/or thin slices as appropriate. Seed but do not peel cucumbers and zucchini. Using scissors, cut the Nori sheet into thirds and then into very thin strips and set aside.

Mix pickled ginger, vegetables and omelette cubes very gently into the rice. *If using avocado, scatter it over the finished rice instead of mixing it in. Check for seasoning. You may wish to add more vinegar.

Combine the soy sauce, lemon juice and wasabi in a small serving bowl.

Mound the rice on a large platter. Cut the tuna into thin slices and fan them around the rice mixture. Just before serving, sprinkle with the thinly sliced nori.

Serve the wasabi mixture on the side.  Serves 4-6.

Variations: For vegetarians, simply omit the tuna, or substitute strips of teryaki-marinated and grilled tofu for it. Substitute cooked shrimp, salmon, or crabmeat for the tuna. Use brown sushi rice instead of white. Brown sushi rice doesn’t have white sushi rice’s pleasant stickiness, so the salad’s texture will be different, but equally delicious.

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