Thick rolls of sushi brimming with a variety of vegetables and egg are particularly popular in the southwestern part of Japan, where they’re often packed along on picnics, or appear on family tables when friends or relatives come to visit.
The fillings are simple to make: mushrooms that can be simmered days ahead, egg strips that can be salvaged from omelet-making practice sessions, purchased pickled ginger that merely gets drained, and greens that require only a quick dip in boiling water.
Soak the dried mushrooms in
Over medium heat, bring the mushrooms and liquid to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Add the rice wine and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and cook for a final 5 minutes. While cooking, it’s best to use a Japanese otoshi-buta or “dropped lid,” if you have one, since it keeps the mushrooms moist while they simmer in fairly little liquid but at the same time allows that cooking liquid to reduce and intensify. If you haven’t got a dropped lid, use slightly lower heat and stir frequently while the mushrooms cook.
Allow the mushrooms to cool to room temperature in the pot in which they were cooked, then transfer them to a covered container for longer storage. The mushrooms keep well, refrigerated, for 5–6 days. Drain the mushrooms of excess liquid just before using.
Rinse the trefoil or parsley carefully under cold water. Divide the greens into three bunches, keeping all the sprigs running in the same direction. Tie the bunches around the stems with string. Bring several cups of salted water to a rolling boil and quickly dip the bunches of greens in it. Drain immediately, running cold water over the greens to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out all excess water and pat the greens dry. Trim, discarding the string and root ends.
With damp hands, divide the seasoned rice into three portions and shape each into a roughly oblong mass. Set aside, covered by a damp cloth.
Lay one sheet of seaweed, rough side up, with one of the shorter edges facing you, on a sudaré (slatted bamboo mat). With damp hands, spread one portion of rice across the bottom two thirds of the seaweed. You’ll be making a colorful striped pattern across the rice with the fillings.
First, take one bundle of greens and arrange half of it with the leaves pointing to the right and the other half with the leaves pointing left. Lay these greens near you in a horizontal stripe across the rice. Drain the red ginger on paper towels and arrange one third of the julienne strips in the next stripe across the rice, just beyond the greens. Then, arrange one third of the mushrooms (drain on paper towels if they seem excessively moist) in a band beyond the ginger. Finally, make a stripe on the far side from one third of the egg shreds.
Lifting the mat, begin to roll the sushi away from you. Flip up and over, snugly enclosing the fillings. Continue to roll, lifting the mat and pushing the sushi away from you at the same time. When you get to the far end, press a few grains of rice on the edge of the seaweed before completing the roll, to seal the edge.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make two more Plump Rolls. With a sharp knife wiped on a damp cloth between cuts, slice each roll in half, crosswise, and then each half in three slices, yielding eighteen pieces in all. Serve at room temperature with soy sauce for clipping, if you like.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.