The girls love Japanese food. Not indescriminately of course. But they are fans of edamame, miso soup and cucumber rolls. In fact, they love cucumber maki so much, that we can barely walk past some in the grocery store or at a mall without having to buy them some.
There are definitely worse things, but they're expensive to buy and not great either: usually made with white rice and who knows how much sugar and salt added to the rice. As far as veggies go, cucumbers aren't exactly a superfood.
So when Big A asked if we could try making our own, I was more than happy to oblige. Last weekend we got rolling mats, nori, and I picked up the shortest-grain brown rice I could find at T&T...I have no idea what variety it is since the label was entirely in Chinese, but it ended up working perfectly.
And as per usual, I found a way to sneak in a bit more nutrition. Cauliflower, like most cruciferous veggies, is packed with nutrients. It also happens to be white, which makes it easy to hide in rice!
Both girls LOVED these. We made them for lunch today, but as soon as they were ready (at 8:45am!), they both gobbled down 3-4 each.
3/4 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups water
2 tbls unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbls sugar/Splenda or other granular sweetener (I used stevia...blasphemous, I know!)
1 cup frozen cauliflower*
1 cucumber cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, then cut in thirds lengthwise
5-6 sheets of toasted nori (seaweed)
Optional: Sesame seeds for sprinkling, low-sodium soy sauce for dipping, pickled ginger and wasabi (for the grown-ups)
Place rice and water in covered pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium low and continue cooking until all the water has been absorbed (depending on the type you use, you may want to overcook it a tad bit so it gets 'sticky'). Remove from heat and let cool (I made rice day before so it was ready for us to go in the morning). Meanwhile, warm vinegar over low heat and dissolve salt and sweetener into it. Steam or microwave cauliflower until soft and then process well in food processor. Once rice is cooled, add vinegar mixture and cauliflower and stir well. Turn rice into a flat dish lined with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make maki, take a sheet of nori, shiny side down and place on a bamboo rolling mat. Spread rice onto 2/3 of the nori and place a cucumber spear into centre of rice mixture. Start from rice-covered end and roll nori, using mat, around rice and cucumber. Once you reach uncovered nori, dab the seaweed with water and then roll tightly, making sure nori is secured/sticking so rolls stay together. Refrigerate for about an hour. Take sharp knife and run under cold water. Slice rolls into rounds. Serve with soy sauce and garnishes as desired. Keeps in refigerator for up to 4 days. Makes about 30-36 maki (depending on how much rice you use/how big you make them).
*You can use fresh cauliflower but it doesn't get as soft and has a stronger taste so it might be more detectable in the rice.