Homemade sushi is fun and delicious, and I'm always a fan of food that's as much of a project as it is a meal. Especially when I'm feeding a crowd that's also willing to roll up their sleeves and jump into the fun.
But when I'm only cooking for a few people on a weeknight, I typically don't have the time to devote to creating a beautiful sushi roll. So, if I'm craving sushi on a busy night, I turn to sushi bowls.
As is true for any successful grain-based bowl, the ingredients need to offer a variety of flavors and textures that will all come together in one delicious bite.
It's no surprise that our sushi bowl starts with rice. Not just plain steamed rice, though, a sushi-inspired version using a short-grain white rice. The rice is rinsed thoroughly to remove surface starch from the grains, which can make them gummy, before it's cooked on the stove or in a rice cooker. The hot cooked rice is then seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Look for unseasoned rice vinegar, as "seasoned" rice vinegar is already sweetened with sugar.
For a pop of flavor, quick pickles are made with thinly sliced cucumbers and carrots, briefly marinated in the same ingredients that flavor the rice.
Salmon is the main protein for this bowl. Rather than using it raw, as you might find in sushi, I'm roasting the salmon, after coating it in a quick, easy and flavor-packed mixture of soy sauce and honey.
Shelled edamame gives the bowl some crunch and added protein, along with avocado, a nod to the ever-popular California roll. A nori sheet, the traditional wrap for many a sushi roll, is cut up into strips and used as a garnish along with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
While there may seem to be a lot going on with this bowl, all of the steps are quick and easy. If you get your ingredients organized before you start assembling, everything should come together in a snap.
One of the big benefits of any "bowl" meal is that every diner can make it their own by adding the ingredients they want and leaving off what they don't want.
This recipe gives you the basics, but you can easily add other ingredients, like chopped mango, cooked shrimp, a drizzle of mayonnaise (for a treat try the rich Japanese Kewpie mayo), or a little wasabi paste. Add some sliced daikon radish to the pickled veggies. The options are limitless.
Soy-Honey Glazed Salmon Sushi Bowl
Note: All the flavors of sushi come together in this easy, weeknight-friendly meal. From Meredith Deeds.
Pickled vegetables and rice:
• 3/4 c. unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
• 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar, divided
• 1 tsp. salt, divided
• 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
• 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
• 2 c. short-grain sushi rice
• 2 tbsp. soy sauce
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 4 (4-oz.) salmon fillets, skinless
• 1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
• 1 c. frozen shelled edamame, thawed
• 1 toasted nori sheet, cut into thin strips
• 1 tbsp. white or black (or a combination) sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
To prepare vegetables and rice: In a medium bowl, whisk 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, until sugar is dissolved. Add the cucumber and carrot and toss to coat. Set aside.
Place rice in fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water, gently agitating with hands until liquid runs clear. Bring rice and 2 1/2 cups cold water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until water evaporates and rice is tender, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
Whisk remaining 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle the mixture over the rice and gently fold it into rice. Cover and let sit until ready to use.
To prepare the salmon: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce and honey. Place salmon on prepared baking sheet and brush tops and sides with soy sauce mixture. Bake for 5 minutes. Brush salmon again with the soy sauce mixture and continue to bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, until salmon reaches desired doneness. Discard remaining soy sauce mixture.
To assemble: Drain cucumber and carrot pickles.
Divide sushi rice among 4 serving bowls. Top each with salmon, pickled vegetables, edamame and avocado. Garnish with nori strips and sesame seeds and serve.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.