Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls

A couple of days ago, I received my first vegan cookbook- Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a vegan cookbook- comfort food style. I can't speak to the healthiness of all of the recipes, I'm certainly no nutritionist. They are, however, undoubtedly healthier than how I've eaten the other 20+ years of my life, so I'm not complaining.

 I already knew that I loved some of these recipes by the website that got me into vegan baking, and then vegan cooking- The Post Punk Kitchen. I have yet to bake any recipes associated with PPK without overwhelming success. Simply put, every single one of them has been a delicious hit. So I decided I needed Veganomicon as my first vegan cookbook. 

The first true recipe in the book is for Spicy Tempeh Rolls. Allen had said earlier this year that he wanted to make sushi this summer, so why not start with this recipe? I went around town gathering my supplies, which proved to be taxing in 105ยบ weather. I ended up having to stop by three stores to get it all. I found the sushi rice, rice vinegar and avocado at Wal Mart, easily. I ended up going to two specialty stores to pick up the nori seaweed, bamboo roller and oils. I say oils because this recipe calls for hot chili sesame seed oil which proved to be impossible to find in my town. I ended up substituting "hot oil" found in the Asian section mixed with sesame seed oil. Tasted just fine!

Here are the ingredients and directions as posted on the PPK recipe page

Bamboo sushi rolling mat
Really sharp serrated knife
Rice cooker or pot for rice
Large preferabely glass bowl to cool rice down in
Small saute pan
Tongs, if you are going to be roasting the nori
For the rice

1 cup sushi rice made with 1 1/4 cup H20, prepared according to package directions
About 2 Tbs Rice vinegar (do not use regular or any other kind!)
1 tsp sugar
4 sheets nori*
For the filling
1/2 package tempeh (4 oz)
1/4 teaspoon sesame hot chili oil or to taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons vegan mayo
1 green scallion, white part removed, sliced lengthwise into narrow strips
1 Tablespoon black sesame seeds if put inside of roll, or 1/4 cup if used as coating for “inside-out”
For the rice

Prepare rice according to package instructions. It should be something like 1 1/4 cup H20 to 1 cup rice. Cook till rice is tender but firm, even a little dry.
Empty hot rice into a large glass bowl. Sprinkle with about rice vinegar and 1 tsp. sugar. Fold rice gently with a large spoon or rice paddle. Rice should be moist and have a mild vinegar flavor. Cover with plastic wrap. When rice is slightly warmer than room temperature it’s ready to work with.
Meanwhile prepare the filling
Steam and cover tempeh in a small saute pan with enough water to cover it till tender & not bitter (about 10 minutes). Mash with mayo and sesame chili oil
to taste. Layer with scallion, sprinkle with sesame, or make inside out roll if feeling Iron Chef tonight
*If you like, use a pair of tongs to roast the nori sheets over the oven flame for 2-3 seconds.

I was feeling Iron Chef myself and made the rolls inside out. To do this, you mash out the rice on the nori like normal, but then lay down a sheet of saran wrap and pick it up, including the bamboo roller. Gently flip the entire thing over, take the roller off the top and lay it down. Lay the flipped over nori on it with the saran wrap in place on the bottom. From there, I laid out my tempeh, green onion (I cheated a little...), and avocado at the line where the rice stopped. I then began rolling the edge with the filling, using the bamboo to help squeeze it tight- just be sure to get that plastic wrap out of the way too! It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I'm not completely sure I even did it right, but it was tasty and held together well and that's all I'm worried about.  

The last picture are Allen's rolls, he set up their presentation! They also happen to not be inside out, so if you make them without the flipping, that's how they'll look! I coated my inside out rolls in sesame seeds, although the second picture was perhaps a bit too heavy on the seeds.

Overall, this was a delightful adventure and fun to roll my own rolls for the first time! I do recommend keeping water in the sink and throwing anything that touches the rice in there when you're done using it, otherwise cleaning up dried sticky rice is kind of difficult. The directions here don't mention it, but keeping a small bowl of water with a dash of rice vinegar around to keep your hands wet so that the rice doesn't stick to you helps a LOT.

If you're like me and you appreciate a visual of all of this, here is the first episode of Post Punk Kitchen showing how to make these. Video Link!

Happy rolling!


  1. How long did this take you to make? I've always wanted to make sushi but just haven't. This may be next on my list to try!!

    1. Probably a little over an hour from start to finish. It's listed as a 40 minute recipe, but I took my time. =)