For the past seven or so years, every now and then I would stumble upon a list I made for myself in an old notebook. The list contained ideas for maki on the theme of “Canadian” sushi using such ingredients as grilled salmon, green asparagus, and roasted sweet potato mixed into the rice.
Long after everything else in the notebook lost meaning, I still kept the notebook around for that list. When I was packing to move out of my beloved apartment on Torstraße, I found the notebook again; I pulled that one page out of the it, then threw it away. I tucked the folded-up page in my wallet.
Fast forward a couple months. I unfold the piece of paper to remind myself what it was. I had been putting it off long enough: I would just do it.
Except, all my sushi-making ingredients and equipment were in storage, and I am loath to buy duplicates of things I already own that are in storage. Luckily, my friend Morgan is heavily into Japanese food right now and I knew he would be up for the adventure. Since Morgan’s girlfriend Liz doesn’t eat fish, I decided to use duck breast instead of salmon, and the grocery store didn’t have any asparagus so I bought green beans.
It was the fresh cranberries at Rewe that was the inspiration to adjust the theme from “Canadian” to “Canadian Christmas”. And thus the Christmas Sushi Experiment was born.
I prepared the sweet potato in two ways: roasted julienne strips for inside of maki, and whole-roasted to mash into rice. The sweet potato rice was the nice orange colour I imagined.
Because Morgan keeps lots of ingredients around for making rice bowls, it was easy to extend our experiment with things in his fridge and pantry, such as an avocado for creaminess, green onion for crispy freshness, and slivers of daikon for crunchy bite.
Morgan and I made as many rolls as we had rice for, including his whole stash of sushi rice from the freezer, in all manner of combinations. My only regret with this experiment is that the duck was not very warm by the time we ate it, though it was otherwise (in my opinion) perfectly prepared.
Morgan was inspired to make a delicious miso-sesame dressing that turned out to be amazing with duck breast. Instead of soya sauce, we dipped our maki in balsamic reduction, cranberry sauce, and the dressing. Liz was delighted to learn that she really likes sushi, something she thought she would never eat in her life.
The Christmas Sushi Experiment was a success.