Buslife Sushi Four Ways
There is something undeniably wonderful about eating a big platter of sushi out in the middle of nowhere. It just feels so delightfully out of place to set out a tray of sushi rolls in a place that is miles from any water, much less an ocean. For this reason, sushi is one of our favorite fancy meals to make in the bus. That, and the fact that making sushi is actually really easy.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, easy? Sure. Like any “elevated” cuisine, sushi can be pretentious. And that pretension is often what makes cooking a dish for the first time intimidating. But the origins of sushi are actually quite simple. The word sushi means sour-tasting, and refers to the vinegared rice which is used, but sushi actually originates from narezushi, an ancient Chinese method of preserving fish in fermented rice. See? Not so pretentious there.
The sushi that we are making in this recipe is called makizushi, which includes any sushi rolled in nori. In Japan, sushi is typically eaten with the hands and was traditionally something of a snack, not the exquisite and expensive meal that it has become today. Things have certainly changed over time, but the point is that, like any “elevated” cuisine, sushi can be really pretentious and difficult–or it can not be. If your roll is too fat, who cares? If your pieces aren’t even, are they going to taste any worse? Remember, it’s just food: enjoy it.
The one big trouble that does exist with making sushi while living out of a school bus and traveling the back roads and hinterlands is sourcing high-quality fish. Out there in the middle of the desert one is unlikely to stumbled upon a fish monger with fine cuts of sushi-grade tuna. But fear not, fellow vehicle-dwellers, there are plenty of delicious sushi rolls that can be made with products available in nearly every grocery store in the country. Below you will find four of our favorite vanlife-ready, camping-ready sushi recipes.
Buslife Sushi 4 Ways
Makes 10 rolls (4 servings)
2 cups short or medium grain japanese rice
2 cups water
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package nori (10 sheets)
¼ lb. large raw shrimp
¼ lb. imitation crab leg
3 oz. smoked salmon
4 oz. cream cheese
2 avocados, sliced ¼” lengthwise
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced into long matchsticks
1 bunch scallions
bamboo sushi mat (optional)
First you will make the sushi rice. On the stove, combine 2 cups of short-grain sushi rice and 2 cups of water in a pot over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover it as infrequently as possible. If necessary, you may lift the lid briefly to peek in or to let off a little bit of excess heat, but try to keep it covered the entire time, relying on sound to tell you how it is doing.
After the rice has simmered for 10 minutes, remove it from heat and allow it to steam for another 10 minutes. Do not uncover it during this time, the steaming is very important.
After 10 minutes have passed, your rice should be perfectly al dente. At this point, mix together the ½ cup rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the rice to the bowl and stir it well to combine. Then allow it to cool so that you can easily handle it.
Rolling your sushi:
Rolling sushi is made much easier with a bamboo sushi mat, but I do not use one, and you can get by just fine without it.
Begin by laying out one sheet of nori, rough side up. Scoop on enough rice to cover the middle two thirds of the sheet (lengthwise), but only about 2 grains deep. You want good coverage with a nice, thin layer of rice, and a bit of uncovered nori on either side.
In the center of your rice, place a small portion of your fillings. It is easy to overfill, so try to just put 1 small piece of each filling in any area, running the length of the sheet of nori.
When you have your fillings all laid out, pick up one side of the nori and roll it about halfway to compact the ingredients. Then set it back down, pick up the other side, and roll it the entire way, taking time to compact things and get a tight roll as you go.
When you get to the end, dip your fingers in a bit of water and run it along the last bit of nori to wet it and form a seal. Place the rolled sushi seam side down for the best seal.
Slice each roll into 6 even pieces and serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.
-Imitation Crab Leg
Shrimp Tempura Roll:
-Shrimp Tempura (see tempura recipe here)
Scallion Tempura Roll:
-Scallion Tempura (see tempura recipe here)