I really don't know where the time went...2012 seems to whizz by so fast and now the time for the second 5-Star Makeover Challenge of the year has arrived. I missed last month's challenge due to disorganization on my part, plus I think I must've lost my creativity cap somewhere during the end-of-year festivities and holidays :). Well, I found it again (just) and for this month's key ingredient, beetroot, I decided to go for an Asian-themed dish.
Diva D is an excellent sushi-maker and her deep love of Japanese food and culture has compelled her to learn how to prepare all sorts of Japanese cuisine from cookbooks and yes, YouTube. Her sushi-rolling skills are pretty advanced to the point that she is now teaching me how to do some of the more creative patterns. Like this pretty Shikai Maki roll, for example.
Watching her make some plain ones a few days ago inspired me to created this beetroot shikai maki. I thought the red of the beets would be visually striking contained within the squarish roll. A shikai maki usually has an empty space in the middle and this can be filled with all sorts of flavors. This time round, I opted for a totally vegetarian dish.
I got hold of some sweet and tender baby beets that I cooked and mashed into the sushi rice. To complement the beet-flavored rice, I made a filling out of Shiitake mushrooms and French beans sauteed with a dash of oyster sauce, honey and seasoning. Wrapped up in Nori, this beet-themed dish had a lovely and a not-too-overpowering sweet and savory note to it.
As always, many thanks go to our superb challenge hosts, Natasha of 5-Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! The round-up of participants' makeover dishes will be this Friday over at Natasha's blog, so don't forget to head over there to see what innovations they've come up with.
PS. I did a photo-tutorial on how to create this shikai maki pattern below. If I had more time (read: if I had better time management), this would've been a video.
Beetroot Shikai Maki with Shiitake Mushroom and French Bean Filling
3 square nori sheets
2 cups cooked sushi rice
5-6 baby beetroot, roasted or steamed until very soft
2-3 tablespoons vinegar
4 French beans, each sliced into two
6 fresh Shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 scallion, finely diced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, for sautéing
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon honey
Approx ½ cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the filling: Heat olive oil in a pan on medium high heat and sauté the garlic and scallion for 1 minute. Add the French beans and mushroom and stir for another minute.
2. Stir in the oyster sauce, honey and water and cover pan to let the vegetables steam and soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Preparing the sushi rice: Add vinegar to the hot rice in a bowl and stir until well incorporated. Add the softened beetroot to the bowl and with a fork, gently mash the beets into the rice. Let this cool slightly before using (see below).
1. Cut one square sheet of nori into two. Overlap them to create one long piece.
2. Arrange a thin layer of beetroot-sushi rice covering the entire length of the nori. Roll tightly from one end to the other.
3. Cut roll into quarters lengthwise. Flip the quarters so the inside corners face outwards.
4. On another half-sheet of nori, place bottom two quarters and place mushroom and french bean filling along the crease created between these two quarters.
5. Place the remaining two quarters on top of the filling, then carefully wrap the half-sheet of nori around the four quarters, rolling the whole thing into a square. Do the same with the remaining nori sheets.
6. With a very sharp knife, slice roll according to desired thickness. Serve immediately with soy sauce dip.
• When pressing the sushi rice down on the nori sheet, frequently dip your fingertips (if using) or the back of a spoon in a small bowl of salted water. This prevents your fingers or the spoon from sticking to the rice.
• When slicing roll, wipe blade of knife with a damp cloth in between slices. This allows for neater cuts and prevents sticking.