Sushi The Easy Way: Asparagus and Scrambled Egg Scattered Sushi

It's like a deconstructed maki roll, which means it's so much easier to make, too.
It’s like a deconstructed maki roll, which means it’s so much easier to make, too.

At times like this especially, it pays to have a well-stocked pantry loaded with spices, condiments, and dry goods from around the world.

My husband used to joke that our kitchen shelves runneth over with star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, cumin, pimenton, garam masala, za’atar, togarashi, and so much more.

Now, with a mandate to shelter in place during the coronavirus crisis, he is definitely grateful that I am such a culinary pack-rat.

Because that meant that after grabbing a bunch of fresh spring asparagus at the market just before the request came down to stay home as much as possible, I was able to easily make “Asparagus with Scrambled Egg Scattered Sushi.”

It’s from the new cookbook, “Japanese in 7: Delicious Japanese Recipes in 7 Ingredients or Fewer” (Kyle Books), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Kimiko Barber, a Kobe-born self-taught Japanese cook.

As the name implies, the recipes all require seven ingredients or fewer. Barber takes a little liberty with that because some recipes will require the making of sub-recipes to complete, which will add up to more than seven ingredients all together.

These are made for the home-cook — if you do have a well-stocked Japanese pantry — and offer up a lovely taste of simplicity. They show how a few key ingredients such as kelp or nori add a jolt of umami that really give a dish incredibly deep, savory flavor.

There’s everything from “Mushroom in Sesame Miso Dressing” and “Deep-Fried Scallops in Rice Crackers” to “Tuna Cubes with Wasabi Avocado Dressing” and “Black Sesame Panna Cotta.”

You’ll definitely want to read the recipes thoroughly beforehand because you may have to do some converting of grams and ounces to your more familiar cups and tablespoons measurements if that’s what you prefer (I made those changes in this recipe for convenience’s sake). It also pays to read the recipes carefully beforehand because Barber sometimes adds in ingredients in the directions that aren’t listed in the ingredients list. Case in point, the light soy sauce. So, I added that to the ingredients list presented here.

What’s wonderful about this dish is that you get all the deliciousness and satiation of sushi — but in a much easier to make form.

It’s like a deconstructed maki roll. There’s no having to roll up rice in a sheet of nori, evenly and tightly, then slicing it into perfect pieces. Instead, you just spread the rice on a serving plate, and top with asparagus and scrambled egg, before sprinkling on sesame seeds and crumbling up a piece of nori over the top. It all makes for a pretty presentation, too.

The rice is seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar and salt. The asparagus is just steamed plain. The eggs get scrambled with sugar, salt and the aforementioned light soy sauce. The eggs cook up fluffy and a little sweet, almost with that same addictive soy-caramelized taste of Japanese rice crackers.

It’s like an on-trend grain bowl — only with Japanese flair to spare. And in these anxious times, it’s comfort food that really hits the spot.

Spring asparagus and softly scrambled eggs seasoned with sugar and soy sauce get scattered over sticky sushi rice.
Spring asparagus and softly scrambled eggs seasoned with sugar and soy sauce get scattered over sticky sushi rice.

Asparagus and Scrambled Egg Scattered Sushi

(Serves 4)

For sushi rice:

1 3/4 cups short-grain rice

1 postcard-sized piece of dried kelp (kombu)

2 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For rest of the dish:

18 ounces of fresh asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed off

2 large eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

1 sheet of nori, crumbled

Wash the rice under cold running water, drain and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let it absorb the moisture.

Put the washed rice and 1 3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons water in a heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Make some slashes in the kelp to release more flavor and place it on top of the rice, then wait for 10 to 15 minutes before turning on the heat. Cover, bring to the boil over a high heat and, when it just begins to boil, remove and discard the kelp. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking for 6 to 7 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, or until steam stops escaping. Turn off the heat and leave it to steam, with a tea towel wrapped around the lid to stop condensation dripping down on the rice, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meantime, make the sushi vinegar: Stir together rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Lightly moisten with water a wide, shallow, non-metallic tub or bowl to stop the rice form sticking. Spread the hot rice in a think layer in the tub. Sprinkle the about 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of the sushi vinegar over the rice, then, with a moistened rice paddle or a flat spatula, toss the rice using cut-and-turn strokes so as not to mash the rice. If you can, get someone to help fan the rice as you do this. Or if you are on your own, alternate tossing and fanning rather than juggling both.

Sushi rice is ready when it has cooled to room temperature and the grains are fluffy and glistening shiny. Try not to overdo this, as the rice will become sticky and heavy. To keep sushi rice from drying out, cover it with a clean, damp cloth, until need, but use it up on the day it is prepared.

For the rest of the dish: Steam the asparagus for 3 to 4 minutes, rinse under cold running water to refresh, then drain. Reserve the tips for the garnish and chop the spears into small bite-size pieces on the diagonal.

Mix the eggs with the sugar, light soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small mixing bowl. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick omelette pan over medium heat. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook, stirring all the while with either an egg whisk or two pairs of chopsticks. When the egg begins to set, remove from the heat but continue to stir to get a fluffy consistency.

Mix the sushi rice with the chopped asparagus and half the scrambled eggs. Transfer to a large serving dish or divide between four individual bowls. Spread the remaining scrambled eggs over, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and arrange the reserved asparagus in the center. Scatter over the crumbled nori and serve.

Adapted from “Japanese in 7” by Kimiko Barber

More Asparagus Dishes to Enjoy: Spicy Ground Pork with Ginger, Lime, Peppers, and Asparagus

And: Asparagus in Coconut Cream Sauce

And: Asparagus Pastry Straws

And: Roasted Asparagus Gratin

And: Roasted Asparagus Soup with Pistachio Cream

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