Hi Fellow Southside CSAers,
I’m Tamara and I split a ‘just veggie’ and an ‘empire’ share -which comes to the same thing as a Vegan’s Deluxe ,which in my mind I’ve been calling a vegan’s delight – with my boyfriend and our 17th month old son Meshak. We aren’t strictly vegans but we eat a plant based diet 6 days a week and cook most of our meals at home. We try to keep at least part of every meal raw. Usually that means we are experimenting with ‘salad’. Over the past year, we have been converting to a completely organic diet (having a kid will do that to you). It’s a process. An important part of that was joining Southside CSA this year and we are super excited about what’s to come.
Since the season is just getting rolling our share included:
½ pound of asparagus
1 qrt of strawberries
…both of which were easily carried home on the bottom of Meshak’s stroller.
We have been getting the most amazing asparagus for the past few weeks so that’s what we were preparing to blog about this week. (The strawberries were a total surprise and were mostly finished by the time we got home.) I realized that I didn’t know much about asparagus except that it’s considered a rarefied delicacy and is delicious. It turns out that it’s short growing season the amount of land it requires to grow, other issues of time and care, along with long and diverse list of health benefits all contribute to its shining reputation. One could easily imagine a superfood smackdown Asparagus vs. Kale (small fact did you know that if you boil or steam your asparagus then you can use the water as a face cleaner. Apparently it’s amazing for ‘blemishes’). The asparagus, like this week’s strawberries, hasn’t lasted past the distribution night in our house. Meshak has been devouring it usually lightly steamed. This is a good thing since Asparagus has what they call a ‘high respiration rate’. Once produce is cut from its plant it continues to metabolize and eventually rot. Wrapping a damp paper towel around the trimmed bottoms will extend the asparagus’ shelf life in the fridge but it really is best eaten in the first couple of days.
Looking back on past blog post from this period there were many amazing recipes which cover almost everything one can do with asparagus. So we split our share into a quick work-a-day recipe for potato and asparagus salad and we decided to try our hand at something new for us – asparagus maki.
For our Potato salad we steamed some new potatoes, asparagus and some garlic scapes (potatoes first, then after a long time asparagus, and right at the end the scapes). We smashed the potatoes, chopped the garlic scapes and muddled them with some sea salt and olive oil.
Then to finish it off we muddled in some coarsely chopped asparagus. And voila a lovely side or a nice snack for Meshak and I to take on our travels the following day.
So, now to the challenge of the week. None of us had ever made any type of Maki at home. So this was a grand experiment for us.
We assembled all the necessary ingredients (according to an amalgam of youtube videos and internet recipes):
Sushi Rice (you could use white, short grained brown or if you wanted to keep it raw a cauliflower and nut mix or no ‘rice’ at all)
Filling (in this case mostly asparagus but we varied with red peppers, mint, and radishes)
1. Thoroughly wash the rice till you water runs clear (it will be milking white in the beginning)
2. Traditionalists will then soak the rice for at least half an hour and wash it again (which we did)
3. Cook the rice by adding 1 ¼ cups water per cup or rice. Bring to a boil, lower and simmer on a very low heat for approx 20 minutes. Then leave covered for another 10 miinutes.
4. In the mean time prepare your sushi vinegar by warming ¼ cup vinegar, 1 tbs mirin, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbs sugar in a small sauce pan until the sugar dissolves. Salt, sugar and mirin are optional and can be adjusted up or down to taste.
5. Prepare your fillings by very lightly steaming asparagus, and steaming chopping any other veg. Of course you could add fish, cheese, pickles or whatever strikes your fancy
6. Wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap. This is the one essential maki making tool. It ‘s usually wrapped because it’s hell to clean but since we didn’t have any plastic wrap, we just went for it and survived.
7. When the rice is cooked transfer to a wood or glass bowl and mix in sushi vinegar delicately folding it in so that you don’t crush the rice. Allow to cool till you can handle it with your hands.
8. Place a sheet of nori on the mat. Close to one side. The coarser side should face up and the lines should be aligned parallel to your body. Keep a bowl of water with a touch of rice vinegar on hand an moisten your hands. Pick up a handful of rice mold into a ball and spread across the nori till it is fully covered except for ¾ of an inch at the top. Keeping your hands wet will make it much easier to spread the rice and control the thickness and evenness of the layer.
9. Place your fillings about a third down the piece of nori. It’s fine if they hang out the sides.
10. Now use the mat to roll. Try to tuck and tighten. This is especially important at first. As first timers it took a bit of practice but we could see vast improvement from roll to roll. Lay the roll on the side where the nori ends so that it seals. Then take the mat and mold the roll from above into an upside down U.
11. To cut the roll in even pieces first cut into half. Line up the halves and cut again, etc, etc
That’s it for our great asparagus experiment! Looking forward to many more.
T & K & M