Have you ever had umeshiso maki sushi? The next time you are in a sushi bar, ask the chef if they can make it for you. It's a simple maki roll with two fillings; umeboshi pickled plums and fresh shiso leaves. The saltiness of the plum contrasts nicely with the freshness of the shiso. It's also very easy to make at home.
Umeshiso Maki Sushi
Tools You'll Need:
Bamboo rolling mat
1 cup of sushi rice
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
3 sheets of roasted seaweed (nori) which are approximately 8 inches by 8 inches
9 umeboshi picked plums
6 to 7 fresh shiso leaves (they are also called ooba, Japanese basil, or beefsteak)
Pickled ginger (optional)
Prepare the sushi rice as instructed on the package on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. When done, transfer the rice to a non-metal bowl and allow it to cool and add the rice vinegar, stirring to mix with a wooden spoon. Don't use a metal spoon as it will react with the vinegar and negatively affect the taste of the rice.
Select a sheet of nori and place it shiny side down on the bamboo rolling mat and make sure the lines in the sheet are parallel to the bamboo pieces. Wet your hands thoroughly with clean water and take about 1/3 a cup of rice and spread it on the lower third of the seaweed sheet. Press it slightly down so that it stays on the sheet. It's okay if you can see little bits of the seaweed sheet through the rice, it does not have to be a solid block of rice. You also don't want to press too hard. The same sort of pressure you'd use to seal an envelope is fine.
Take three umeboshi and remove the pits. Tear the plums in half and lay them side by side so that they form a horizontal line from one side of the rice to the other, gently pressing them in. Place two or three shiso leaves on top of the plums.
Now grab the bottom of the rolling pad and with your fingers, hold the seaweed and rice down against the mat while you lift the mat up. Bring the bottom of the seaweed sheet about half an inch below the top of the rice section and form the beginning of the roll. Make sure not to get the bamboo rolling mat caught in the roll! While the seaweed sheet should be in the roll, the now-upturned edge of the bamboo rolling mat should be on top of the roll but not attached to it.
Grab the top end of the bamboo mat which is still lying down and hold it steady by puling upwards. With your other hand hold on to the roll and tug downwards gently to tighten it up. Gently roll upwards, tugging the top end upwards and pulling the roll downwards with each revolution to tighten.
Just before you bring the roll to the end of the seaweed sheet, moisten the ends with some water and then join the top end of the sheet with the roll. Gently roll back and forth on the countertop to seal the seam.
With a sharp knife, cut the roll crosswise into six equal pieces.
Repeat the steps above until you finish the ingredients. You should have three rolls and eighteen pieces. Serve with soy sauce for dipping. Add wasabi if desired and cleanse your palate in between with pickled ginger.
(Image: Kathryn Hill)