Temari sushi aka sushi balls

Tales of a Kitchen / Temari sushi aka sushi balls

I am in love with simple, honest Japanese flavors. My favorite meals are the kind of meals that only require a handful of ingredients, minimal seasoning and beautiful, vibrant colours.

Tales of a Kitchen / Temari sushi aka sushi balls

Tales of a Kitchen / Temari sushi aka sushi balls

I have shared few Japanese inspired recipes on this blog. Favorites are those that involve eggplant such as Eggplant with miso glaze and Black rice with soybeans and miso eggplant . But I could not pass the opportunity of showing off this gorgeous pom-pom sushi! Not only so beautiful to look at, but so so delicious to enjoy. It is perfect for a night in, and even more so for a dinner party! It is inexpensive and can be made with pretty much any toppings you want.

Tales of a Kitchen / Temari sushi aka sushi balls

Tales of a Kitchen / Temari sushi aka sushi balls

Tales of a Kitchen / Temari sushi aka sushi balls

Making classic sushi rice is a bit involved, however worth it. And although most times I eat brown rice or quinoa as a go to dinner staple, nothing beats classic sushi rice for this particular sushi.

To enjoy this, you can make one of the toppings or all! The radicchio, radish and shiitake can also be made ahead of time.

Let’s get rolling!

Tales of a Kitchen / Temari sushi aka sushi balls

Tales of a Kitchen / Temari sushi aka sushi balls

Temari sushi aka sushi balls

Serves about 36 pieces

Ingredients for sushi rice

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp maple
  • pinch salt
  • 1cm piece of kombu
  • 1.5 cups Japanese sushi rice
  • 1.7 cups water

Ingredients for sushi toppings – Radicchio & Radish pickles (makes more than needed for the sushi recipe)

  • 3-4 radicchio leaves
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 TBSP coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cups rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cm piece kombu

Ingredients for sushi toppings – Shiitake mushrooms

  • 3 large dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1.3 cups water
  • 1 TBSP sake
  • 1 TBSP maple
  • 1.5 TBSP tamari

Other ingredients

  • 1/2 avocado
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • wasabi paste
  • tamari for dipping
  • sprouts and other greens

Sushi rice steps

  1. Make the seasoned vinegar by combining rice vinegar, maple, salt and kombu in a small pot and simmer on low heat until the maple and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. To make the sushi rice, wash your rice well 3-4 times – add the rice to a bowl, add generous water and stir vigorously to remove excess starch. Drain. Rinse and drain until the water comes out clear.
  3. Transfer the rice to a rice cooker or a cooking pot, add the 1.7 cups water and cook.
  4. Add the cooked rice to a handai or a shallow glass or wooden bowl. Using gentle cutting and folding motions, toss the rice until steam does not come out anymore. You can also fan it at the same time, as this is done traditionally, but I find simply folding the rice will work as well, though it does take a couple of extra minutes.
  5. Drizzle the seasoned vinegar little by little on the warm rice and continue to gently fold the rice.

Steps to make the toppings (radicchio and shiitake can be made days in advance and stored in the fridge)

  1. To make the radicchio & radish, add coconut sugar, vinegar and salt in a small pan and simmer until sugar dissolves. Divide between 2 small jars, cut kombu in half and add a piece to each jar. Add a small pot of water to boil and quickly black the radicchio leaves (leave them in for about 20 seconds) then transfer them to one of the jars. Add the radish slices to the simmering water, blanch for 40 seconds, drain and then add to the second jar. Allow the jars to cool and once cooled, add a lid and set them aside for 1 hour. They can be used for  sushi (and other dishes) after 1 hour or stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks.
  2. To make the shiitake, remove the stems (reserve them for other cooking) and soak the caps in the water for at least 1 hour, ensuring they are submerged. Drain them, pat them dry and slice them in thin slices. Add the leftover liquid to a small pot, add the sake, maple and tamari and bring to a simmer. Add the shiitake slices and simmer on low for about 10-12 minutes. If water levels become low (mushrooms are not submerged) add a little more water and continue to simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. To prepare the avocado, simply cut it into thin slices.

Steps to assemble

  1. Shape the rice into tiny little round nuggets (moist your fingers if needed to prevent the rice from sticking).
  2. Add a little plastic wrap on a flat work surface/plate. Add a topping (a radicchio slice or 2-3 shiitake slices or 2-3 avocado slices) on the plastic wrap, then place the little rice nugget on top, gently pressing down. Gather up the corners and edges of the plastic wrap and twist gently to compact the rice and form the nugget into a perfect sphere. Gently press and squeeze to ensure it stays in place.
  3. Carefully unwrap the sushi ball and place on a serving dish, toppings facing up.
  4. Repeat the step for each sushi ball.
  5. Serve with tamari, wasabi, toasted sesame and any other sides you fancy.
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