As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I don’t like seafood. Every year I try once again to taste something “mild” that everyone claims “absolutely does not taste fishy,” and end up almost dry-heaving after feeling like I’ve trawled the harbor at low tide and taken a bite of everything that came up in the net. Tuna, fish sticks, shrimp—it’s all inedible to me. So, obviously, sushi has been and probably always will be a no-no. Having been dragged to sushi restaurants all the same, I thankfully discovered the wonder that is cucumber rolls. How on earth people could choose fish over crisp, delicious cucumber is beyond me. This is a fun, refreshing dish any time of year and quick enough to throw together on a weeknight.
The amounts can be scaled up or down quite easily. As below it made about 4 or 5 rolls, enough for a main-course serving for two people.
• 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into matchsticks: 75 cents
• Nori sheets (amount may vary, be sure to have at least 5): 50 cents
• 1 cup short-grain sushi rice: 25 cents
• 1 tsp salt: 1 cent
• 1 T sugar: 5 cents
• 1/3 cup plus 1 T rice vinegar: 15 cents
• 1/3 cup soy sauce (low-sodium is best): 10 cent
• 2 tsp sesame oil: 20 cents
• Sesame seeds for garnish (optional): 10 cents
TOTAL: $2.11/2 = $1.05/serving
In a small saucepan, heat the 1 T rice vinegar, salt, and sugar over low heat, just until dissolved.
Cook the rice in your rice cooker, or however you usually cook rice (I use a 2x water-to-rice ratio for this). Transfer the rice to a bowl and pour the vinegar-salt-sugar mixture over it. Stir well to mix.
Combine the 1/3 cup vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl or two separate bowls for the dipping sauce.
Lay a sheet of nori on a dry surface. Spread out a thin layer of rice.
Layer some cucumber matchsticks about 1/2 inch in from the edge of the rice, then roll the nori up tightly into a cylinder. I like to do this while the rice is still slightly warm (but not hot), as it softens the nori and makes a tighter roll. With a clean, sharp knife, cut the roll into slices. Sprinkle the slices with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve with the dipping sauce.