Recipe: Italian Sushi Roll
This incredible concoction of flavors was inspired by the Moriawase dish I had at Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I took their idea of combining the Italian flavors of basil and olive oil with sashimi, and twisted it into a prosciutto wrapped sushi roll with sweet port and balsamic grapes. This is what traveling to food destinations is all about; inspiration to make something unique and out of this world delicious that perhaps hasn’t been seen before.
This awesome roll was the hit of the sushi party I took it to, and I know it will be for your party as well. Vegetables instead of fish, prosciutto instead of nori, basil oil instead of wasabi, and sweet grape instead of salty soy sauce…..wow! This will be on my restaurant menu when I open it’s doors someday for sure.
For this dish you will need:
- Port Wine Balsamic Grapes (couple spoonfuls per roll)
- Fried Garlic Chips (one per piece, roughly 8 per roll)
- Sliced Red Bell Pepper (roughly 4 slices per roll)
- Blanched Asparagus (2-3 spears per roll, depending on asparagus size)
- Baby Spinach (8-10 leaves per roll)
- Sliced Scallions, green part only
- Basil oil
- Micro Greens (sprouts), optional
- Sushi Rice (roughly 1/3 – 1/2 cup per roll)
- Prosciutto (roughly 6 slices per roll)
Prepare your favorite sushi rice recipe ahead of time, or purchase some from your local sushi restaurant. Prepare the rest of your ingredients ahead of time as well, so that when it’s time to feed your guests all you have to do is assemble the roll.
When choosing the asparagus to use in this recipe, choose small, skinny stalked asparagus. They are easier to bite and provide more interest in the final roll because you can add 2 or 3 stalks per roll instead of just 1. Blanch them in boiling water until bright green, roughly 2 minutes. Promptly remove from boiling water and place in an ice water bath to cool. Once cooled, remove and set aside until ready to assemble the roll.
How to Make Basil Oil
Simply place fresh basil leaves in a food processor or blender and process with extra virgin olive oil until smooth. Add enough olive oil to make it very loose and saucy. Thick very very runny pesto. You can season to taste with salt and black pepper if you’d like.
Port Wine and Balsamic Grapes Recipe
- 2 cups halved grapes
- 1/4 cup port wine
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Start by cutting the grapes in half along their diameter. Then place in a sauce pot over high heat with the remaining ingredients and bring to a rapid boil. Cook until grapes are cooked and soft, roughly 5 minutes.
Strain the grapes, reserving all the liquid.
Place liquid back in sauce pot and reduce over medium-high heat until reduced to a thick sauce that coats a spoon and has the consistency of thick maple syrup.
Set aside and allow to cool. Use warm temperature when assembling the sushi roll.
How to Make Fried Garlic Chips
Slice cloves of garlic into even thick slices. Drop into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
How to Assemble Italian Sushi Roll
Start by placing plastic wrap over your bamboo sushi scroll press. Place prosciutto, overlapping the edges, so as to cover the sushi press. Place the sushi rice on the prosciutto and spread with moistened fingers and/or sushi paddle to cover the prosciutto, leaving a 1 inch strip of bare prosciutto on one long edge for sealing the roll later. The rice should only be 1/4 inch or so thick.
Place baby spinach across 3/4 of the rice, then lay asparagus, red bell pepper, and a couple spoonfulls of port wine balsamic grapes, including sauce, about 1/3 of the way into the roll square. Carefully roll up with the bamboo sushi scroll, pulling back the plastic wrap out of your way as you roll. Once rolled up, compress with the bamboo sushi scroll press.
At this point, you can remove the plastic wrap or leave it on to cut the roll. I find that the roll seems to hold together better with the plastic wrap on while slicing. The prosciutto is more delicate than nori, and does not hold together as well. Because of this, you’ll need to slice into larger pieces than typical sushi, about 1.5 inches thick. Each roll should produce about 8 pieces.
Place the pieces on a serving plate, then spoon some basil oil on each piece. Top with scallions, and then place a fried garlic chip on each piece. You can optionally then garnish with some micro greens/sprouts if you’d like.
Recipe by Jothan Yeager, July 2011
The Bald Gourmet’s recipes are inspired by his food travel experiences throughout the world, like today’s recipe that was a play on a sashimi dish eaten in a Japanese restaurant in Malaysia.
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