Monday, 27 June 2011

Sweet Sushi Woo

Yesterday was Saturday and I was on watch. There is a watch rota when the boat is either in a non-secure marina or we’re at anchor. And yesterday it was my turn which was fine by me. I had plans. Sweet sushi plans. I’ve never made sweet sushi before and got the idea whilst looking at a French cooking magazine. What I thought was sushi filled with fruit turned out to be some kind of cream cheese filled with fruit but my imagination was already on fire. Why had I never thought of this before?! The possibilities for sweet sushi are endless. I had to limit my ideas down so that I wouldn’t explode with excitement and wreak absolute havoc in the galley all in one go. One step at a time, Suzy. Mind you, the crew thought it was great of course. They don’t always get spoons at dinner time (or in this case; chopsticks)

It was the Nori seaweed I was most unsure about but looking ‘sweet sushi’ up online showed me that you can still use the seaweed to roll. The flavour of the seaweed is fairly inconsequential once the sushi filling is involved and all the other bits and bobs that go with it.

So I boiled my uber list of flavour possibilities down to a manageable, one day experiment and ‘Woo-Hoo’, I was off! I know this looks like a lot of ingredients and work but it’s really all pretty straight forward to make and the pay off is in the eating I can assure you.

My flavour ideas;

Coconut and cardamom infused, sweet sushi rice
Mango and mint sushi
Fruits of the forest sushi
Gooseberry, lime and wasabi puree
Dark Chocolate and red berry dipping sauce
Green tea and ginger spiced poached pears with star anise

Oh yeah.

If you have never made sushi before then this would be a fun way to start I reckon. It isn’t at all tricky; the thing with sushi is that it’s not normally the quickest of meals to prepare. But because this one is a desert and not a main meal, I only needed a small amount. Two rolls of two different flavoured sushi was definitely good for 4-5 people. Sweet sushi could be made in advance and served either that night or at a push, the next day. The great thing about the fruit sushi is that you don’t have the freshness of the raw fish to worry about so you can make it ahead of time and serve when you’re ready. And your hands don’t smell all fishy after you’ve made it. Bonus.

So these were my chosen flavour combinations but you could really go wild with all the potential flavours you could use. Tell you what though; gooseberry, lime and wasabi make the most fantastic puree ever. I had some gooseberries in the freezer and have wanted to use them for something exciting for months now. Gooseberries are so tangy and tart and that lovely bright green that it seemed so obvious to try them with the wasabi, a bit of lime juice and sweetened of course with some vanilla sugar.

It was all pretty simple to make and although it wasn’t the quickest thing to make, now I’ve experimented once, I’ll be even quicker next time.

For Sweet Sushi you will need;

For the rice;
1 cup of sushi rice
1 ¼ cups of coconut milk
8 cardamom pods
4 tbsp of sugar

For the mint and mango sushi;
1 ripe mango
Fresh mint leaves
Cream cheese
100g pistachio nuts, shelled and finely chopped with 2 tbsp of chocolate vermicelli added. 

For the Fruits of the Forest sushi;
1 cup of frozen, mixed red berries. Or a mixture of fresh red currents, black currents, black berries, blueberries etc. Just give them a gentle simmer in a tbsp of juice or water.

Nori seaweed

For the Gooseberry, Lime and Wasabi puree;
1 tsp wasabi paste
1 cup gooseberries, topped and tailed
Juice and zest of ½ lime
3-4 tbsp of vanilla sugar (or use plain sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract)

For the chocolate sauce;
1 250g bar of dark chocolate

For the poached green tea and ginger spiced pears;
4 large pieces of crystallised ginger
2 small firm pears
1 green tea bag
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
½ vanilla pod
2 star anise


  • Definitely start by making the rice. First soak the rice in a plastic or ceramic (not metal) bowl of water for around 20 minutes. Once it has soaked, rinse it well in cold running water (again, using a plastic sieve, not a metal one) until the water runs pretty clear.

  • Put the rice into a saucepan and add the coconut milk. Using a rolling pin or your fist onto the flat of a large blade, gently bash the green cardamom pods so that the seeds inside are exposed. Heat a small saucepan and dry fry the pods for about 40-60 seconds to get their aroma to waken up a bit. Pop those in the coconut milk with a star anise. Stir and cover the pan with a heavy tight fitting lid or some cling film as I do for rice. Don’t worry, it puffs up but it never goes pop, I promise.

  • Bring the rice to the boil then turn the heat down to its lowest heat and leave to cook nice and slowly for 12 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the rice for another 10 minutes to rest. Do not take the lid or cling film off at this stage. It’s very important to keep all the lovely steam in.

  • When the ten minutes is up, tip the rice into a shallow plastic tray or onto a wooden chopping board and spread it out evenly so that it can cool quickly. Sprinkle liberally with sugar and using a chopping motion as if you’re mixing cement with a trowel, mix the sugar into the rice.

  • Leave the rice to continue cooling and prepare the fruit for the sushi. Put the frozen berries to defrost in a sieve and place over a bowl to catch all the lovely juices. This will go into the chocolate sauce later. Prepare the mango so that you have some long wedges to go into the sushi.  There. That’s that.

  • To make the gooseberry puree, pop the gooseberries into a pan with the zest and juice of ½ lime. Bring to the boil to cook the gooseberries and reduce the liquid. This should take no time at all, about 5 minutes. When they have cooled, add the tsp wasabi paste and the sugar, a pinch of salt and blend till smooth. You can do this in small stages if you’re unsure how strong your wasabi is! But do try to add the full tsp. The flavour is truly amazing. Taste and add more sugar and/or wasabi if you wish. Refrigerate. Deep breaths now if you’re getting too excited.

  •  For the pears; make a nice cup of hot green tea. Pour into a saucepan and add 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise, 4 cloves, 4 finely chopped large pieces of crystallised ginger and the juice of the remaining lime half. Add 2 tbsp of brown sugar and stir. Prepare the pears by peeling, chopping in half lengthways and coring with a tsp. Pop those into the poaching liquid and top up with water if needed so that they are just covered. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes so that they are soft but not too soft. Decant into a bowl with the liquor and spices, cover and chill.

  • That’s almost all the prep done and now is the exciting moment where you get to roll some sushi!  Have your finely chopped pistachio nuts and vermicelli on a flat plate ready. We’ll do the mango and mint ones first. So, take your rolling mat and cling film it. Spread the rice in a good layer over the Nori as explained on the seaweed packet but making sure you cover the entire piece of Nori. Then flip the rice and Nori over so that the rice is on the cling-filmed rolling mat and the Nori is facing up. An inch up from the bottom edge of the Nori, smear across some cream cheese, some of the gooseberry and wasabi puree then the mint leaves then the mango. Roll the sushi according to the instructions on the Nori packet. I hope my photos help explain things!

  • Gently lift the mango roll onto the pistachio plate and roll the sushi in the pistachio and vermicelli to cover the rice. There we go! One mango and mint sushi roll. Now repeat the process so that you have 2. Put on a plate, cover and chill.

  • Almost done. The fruit of the forest one is easier I guess. Take the cling film off the rolling mat and follow the Nori packet instructions for putting the rice onto the seaweed leaving just under an inch gap at the top. Spoon the fruits onto the rice and roll the sushi. Make 2, put onto a plate and chill. Easy!

  • Now all that’s left is the chocolate sauce. Put the choc into a saucepan or in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add 3 tbsp hot water to the chocolate and let the chocolate gently melt. Try not to stir it too much at this point, just let it very gently melt (like how I do when I’m cooking in the galley).

  • When the chocolate has melted stir and make sure that it isn’t too thick by adding a little more hot water if needed. Then pour in the red berry juices saved from earlier.
  •  When you’re ready to serve, cut the sushi with a very sharp knife. Cut them in half and then cut the halves into three, six pieces per roll.


  • I did two different styles of serving because even at this point I couldn’t make my mind up about what flavours should go where! A little surprise though was how good crystallised ginger dipped in chocolate and berry sauce is…
 Actually all of it was really good dipped in the chocolate sauce. And it all looked so pretty on lovely big white plates. I was so pleased and excited with it all and it tasted so refreshing and so good. And like I said there are so many possibilities for other flavours, you should really have a go at it. Let me know how you get on.

 We’re another week at anchor on Mariquita here in Cogolin. Then off to Barcelona. It will be so nice to be in Spain. A different culture, exciting new food, the nightlife. And being attached to land again will be very welcome.

Thanks for reading about my sweet sushi experiment. The crew were happy guinea pigs! Next time I’ll serve with chilled sweet sake I think…

Cheers! See you next time.