Roadtesting Hand Rolled Sushi

Bronte Coates attempts to create a Japanese feast – vegetarian style.

I’m hoping to visit Japan early next year and in anticipation I’ve been trying to learn more about the culture, mostly by reading a lot of books about Japan or from Japanese authors. Recommendions from other Readings' staff included Patrick Holland’s Riding The Trains In Japan, and Taeko Tomioka’s Building Waves, both of which I very much enjoyed. Building Waves had some absolutely stunning passages. I also re-read Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, a slim whimsical and melancholic foray into family and loneliness.

And then last Friday I thought I’d try my hand at making a Japanese feast of some kind.

Some friends came over and we went to the shops to arm ourselves with sushi rice, sake, dashi, wakame, and more. As two of us were vegetarians our choices for fillings included crisp vegetables such as snowpeas, cucumber, spouts and avacado. To actually make the sushi we used Sushi Slim as a guide and given my distrust of any cook book which advertises itself as a tool for weight loss, I was won over the simplicity of the recipes and clear instructions.

When we arrived home from shopping to discover we’d bought skewers instead of sushi mats these instructions were exactly what we needed - showing us how to roll all our sushi by hand. This proved to be a success (mostly). Toward the back of the cook book Sano includes recipes and advice for making a selection of bento-box style lunches which look terrific. I’ll definitely be testing this section out.


On the night we also used Ottolenghi’s Plenty cook book, one of my favourites, to make a Warm Glass Noodle and Edamame Bean Salad. The sauce for this recipe includes 4 limes, tamarind paste, groundnut oil, and it was very delicious while I was impressed how easy it was to source the edamame. We just bought a pack of frozen ones and de-podded them ourselves.

And for our final dish, we made Miso Soup using a recipe from the Sumo Kitchen website (see here) adding some sliced tofu and spring onions. Now with our ‘feast’ prepared, we all sat down to eat in front of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary that chronicles the life of Jiro Ono, the most famous sushi chef in Tokyo. You can watch the trailer here.

Bronte Coates is the Online & Readings Monthly Assistant. She is a co-founder of literary project, Stilts.