I love Bonnie Stern recipes. I own four of her cookbooks. I subscribe to her newsletter and check her website often. And her recipes always come out as expected. What more can a cook ask? From her cookbook, The Best of HeartSmart Cooking this dish is a fun appetizer that Bonnie Stern calls Sushi Pizza but really, it is built like a lasagna!
Holidays and company are coming and it’s nice to have an appetizer that is easy to prepare. I have made sushi in the traditional rolls, however, this recipe uses similar ingredients and prepares it in a square dish. No rolling, no frustration. You will need sushi rice which is a Japanese short grain rice, seasoned rice vinegar, wasabi powder, mayonnaise, 1 square-ish sheet of nori, English cucumber and a package of smoked salmon. The sushi rice, rice vinegar and wasabi powder, and nori will be found together in the Asian section of your supermarket.
Wasabi powder is the special ingredient in this recipe. Wasabi is also called Japanese horseradish and belongs to the same family of plants such as horseradish and mustard. It has a very strong pungent flavour. When you buy it in its dry form, you add just enough water to make it into a thick paste. And you only need a tiny bit to create a little fire on your palate. It is a traditional dipping sauce for sushi, along with soy sauce. The wasabi paste in this recipe will be mixed with the mayonnaise to dilute its hotness and will create a thin layer in our ‘lasagna’.
I love using a mandolin for slicing cucumber to be paper thin. You will need 36 slices of cucumber for this recipe.
Prepare the sushi rice according to instructions. Then add 1/4 cup of seasoned rice vinegar to the sushi rice and note the mild vinegar aroma. It is supposed to exude that slight vinegar aroma.
I used a 8 by 8 inch glass baking dish covered with saran wrap; this will make it easier to turn the sushi lasagna out after it has set. Build up the ingredients in the dish — first overlap the slices of cucumber; my pan held 5 rows of 6. Maybe i should have overlapped more? Do what works for you. Layer smoked salmon slices over the the cucumber, then the wasabi-mayonnaise mixture, then pat down half the rice. Lay the nori sheet on that and then spread the remainder of the rice. Fold the saran over the entire finished dish. I used cans to put weight on the dish and put in the fridge for a few hours until compressed. No one has to see this step but you….use whatever cans fit, or a covered brick.
When you unwrap and flip it onto a serving tray, the overlapped cucumber slices are on top.
Cut into serving sized squares. I sprinkle black and toasted white sesame seeds on top to garnish. Sliced green onions or chives will look work too.
Serve on a buffet table with soy sauce on the side. And a little extra wasabi paste if desired. Or prepare individual appetizer plates. Either way, you’re going to love it. The wasabi will give oomph to every bite. Enjoy.
2 cups short grain sushi rice
2 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
36 very thin slices English cucumber
1/4 lb. lox or smoked salmon, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. prepared wasabi (or one tbsp. wasabi powder mixed with 1 tbsp. water)
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 sheet toasted nori about 8×7 inches/20×18 cm)
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds; I used a combination of black and white sesame seeds
1. Rinse rice in several changes of water until water runs clear. Drain well. In a medium heavy pot, combine rice and cold water. Allow to rest for 15-30 minutes.
2. Bring rice to a boil, covered, on medium-high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Do not lift lid at any time during cooking and resting.
3. Transfer rice to large bowl and gently toss with vinegar. If rice tastes perfect, add a bit more vinegar (vinegar taste will dissipate as rice cools). Cover rice with a damp towel if not using right away.
4. Line an 8 inch square baking dish with plastic wrap. Arrange cucumber slices, overlapping slightly, on bottom. Arrange smoked salmon slices on top of cucumber. Combine mustard and mayonnaise and spread over salmon.
5. Gently and carefully spread half the sushi rice on top of the salmon. Dip your fingers into a bowl of water and gently pat down the rice. Place the square of nori on top of rice. Pat on remaining rice. Cover with plastic wrap and weigh down with several heavy cans of food. Refrigerate for a few hours.
6. To serve, unwrap and invert onto a square serving platter. Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds. Cut into small squares.