Sicilian eggplant, banana peppers and fresh shitake mushrooms.
Vegetables in large, shallow roasting pan.
Sushi being rolled on a bamboo mat.
A Sushi Dish that Appeals to All
This delicious, warm sushi roll has broad appeal. Besides the traditional raw fish lovers, this is a good sushi option for vegans and vegetarians. It is also a sushi alternative for pregnant women who are avoiding raw fish.
Brown Rice Sushi
The first time I had brown rice sushi was at a restaurant in Palo Alto that was actually named "Brown Rice Sushi". I was quite excited to think that I could eat one of my favorite foods and not have to eat white rice. It's not that I don't enjoy white rice, in fact I do. But from a nutritional point of view, I always opt for whole grain. Even though white rice is often fortified with many of the vitamins that were stripped out during the manufacturing process, cooked brown rice has much more fiber, about 4 grams per cup. White rice only has 1 gram per cup. We should all aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day for optimal health and this recipe provides over 11 grams per roll. Fiber helps keep weight under control and can lower the risk of certain cancers, help prevent heart disease and diabetes while maintaining the health of the digestive tract. Besides being high in fiber, brown rice is also a very good source of magnesium, manganese and selenium. Although I know brown sushi rice exists, I've always just used short grain brown rice for making sushi and it comes out fine.
Oven Roasted Eggplant
Although eggplant is not a nutrient powerhouse, it is low in calories and high in fiber. Instead of the popular deep purple, elongated pear shaped "globe" eggplant, I like to use some of the smaller, lighter colored or streaked varieties available. They tend to be less bitter. I used 2 small streaked Sicilian eggplants also known as "zebra" or "graffiti" eggplants, when I developed this recipe. The long, thin Japanese or Chinese varieties would be really good to use also. One of the things to be careful about, when cooking with eggplant, is its affinity for oil. If you were to fry a slice of eggplant, it would soak up oil like a sponge so avoid fried or tempura eggplant in restaurants. They will be very high in fat and in calories. In this recipe, the vegetables are tossed in just a few teaspoons of sesame oil mixed with a few other seasonings and roasted with jalapeno and banana peppers, and shitake mushrooms. This gives the dish lots of flavor and not many calories.
Vegetarian Brown Rice Sushi with Roasted Eggplant, Peppers and Shitake Mushrooms [makes four 8 piece rolls]
For the Sushi
2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
5 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
For the Marinade
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 teaspoons unrefined sesame oil
2 teaspoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
For the Sushi Roll
2 small eggplants (1 pound), cut into thin strips
3 red or green banana peppers (3/4 pound), cut into strips
8 fresh shitake mushrooms (1/4 pound), cut in half
4 small jalapeno peppers, cut in half
16 basil leaves (optional)
4 sheets Nori
Cook rice according to directions. While rice is cooking, prepare vegetables. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a shallow, 12" x 14" roasting pan and set aside. Prepare the marinade by combining garlic, sesame oil, agave syrup and soy sauce. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers and shitake mushrooms with the marinade until they are evenly coated. Spread all of the vegetables evenly in the lightly greased roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes, turning them after 15 minutes. Remove roasted vegetables from oven and set aside. When the rice is cooked, prepare the sushi rice. Heat vinegar, sugar and salt until it dissolves. Fold into the cooked rice while fanning it until it's sticky and no longer wet. To prepare the sushi rolls, place a sheet of Nori on a bamboo mat. Put 1/2 cup of rice over the Nori starting one inch from the bottom. Place one fourth of the eggplant, banana peppers, jalapenos, shitake mushrooms and basil leaves over the rice. Using the sushi mat, roll from the bottom up. After the bottom edge is over the filling, squeeze it gently with the mat and then roll to the top. Wet the top of the Nori and complete the roll. The moisture will seal it. Cut the roll with a very sharp knife into 8 equal pieces. Serve with extra soy sauce if desired.
Per roll: 235 calories, 3.8 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 8.5 g protein, 43.4 g carbohydrates and 11.3 g of fiber.