We had a couple friends over for dinner two Fridays ago and I made a Mexican themed meal. I knew I'd make the Mexican Black Bean Tart With Cornmeal Crust that people seem to love, and I figured a Cream of Poblano soup (which I'll post later this week) would be a nice soup course, and I went off theme for dessert - Neapolitan Strawberries - but I needed something unusual to start things off.
That's when I remembered that I had sheets of sushi nori I'd purchased for the day I got brave enough to make my own maki rolls. We had one true and two pseudo vegetarians in attendence so fish was out (phew), and the maki would be assorted Vegetarian Mexi-Maki.
Equipment: Small Maki rolling mat. Available in most cooking stores now.
Several sheets of nori, a dried seaweed used for maki.
Assorted vegetables, sliced into long thin strips like rajas.
Mexican zucchini (looks like a common zucchini, but slightly more pear shaped with a speckled skin)
red bell peppers
roasted red peppers
trimmed green onions sliced lengthwise
strips of nopales (cactus)
hot peppers of your choice (but be nice to your guests)
8 oz. package of seitan, sliced long and thin and marinated in the Marinade from our Meatless Fajitas:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup light oil
3 cups water
&frac13 cup tequila
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped parsley
1 jalapeno, seeded, white membrane removed, sliced*
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2-3 thinly sliced scallions.
2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Shredded Chihuahua cheese - as much as desired
1 1/2 cup short grained rice - I like Nishiki
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle in adobo.
A few hours beforehand, combine the rice with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 20 minutes on a low simmer. Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes. Remove the rice into a bowl and toss with rice wine vinegar. Put bowl in refrigerator.
Marinade the seitan at least for an hour before using in maki. If you wish you can fry it before using, but it tastes fine post marinade without any additional treatment.
Lay a sheet of nori on the rolling mat. Wet your hands with water so you can handle the rice without it sticking. Spread a 1/2" tall and wide block of vinegared rice completely across the furthest end of the current sheet of nori. Pile an assortment of vegetables on top of the rice or just toward you from the rice. When you have "enough" on the sheet of nori (and you'll be way under or way over on the first roll) roll it up:
Using the mat to guide you, tightly roll the far end of the roll over the filling toward you. You'll need to roll the mat back when you get to the bottom of the roll so it doesn't get rolled up in the maki, but continue to use the rest of the mat as an aid and a guide to keeping the roll tight.
When you get to the near end or have a good 1/4"-1/2" overlap, trim any excess nori and using water, wet the nori about to become the end of the sheet. Roll up tight and the water should keep the nori sticking to itself and keep the roll closed.
You'll now have a long roll. Trim the ends for neatest presentation (cook's share!), and cut the roll into approximately equal 1 1/2" segments.
Try using the chichuahua cheese in place of one of the vegetables. Use the marinated seitan as you would use tuna or salmon or yellowtail in the rolls. Mix it up! All you need is nori, rice, and "other" to make a credible roll. I stongly suggest having plenty of nopales and scallions on hand.
Soy and wasabi is the usual maki dip in this country, but that won't do for Mexi-maki. Instead, mix soy sauce and adobo sauce together and serve in small dipping dishes as a Mexican flavored alternative.
If you're feeling adventurous and want an analog to the marvelous fish egg sushi you can get in most Japanese restaurants in the U.S, cook some quinoa with a pinch of salt. Drain through paper towels on top of a strainer (otherwise the grains will go right through the strainer). Mix the cooked quinoa with more adobo sauce so it takes on slightly red/orange color.
Roll up a 3" wide sheet of nori with a plug of rice in the middle and slice into two maki style pieces, leaving an empty space at each end. Set the pieces on the filled ends and fill the tops with the quinoa "fish eggs". Alternately, use pomegranite seeds to fill the empty tops.