Author Notes: Maki are such fun to work with because you can fill them with so many different things and come out with colorful attractive and surprising bites. They are perfect projects for aspiring kiddie chefs as well. In the past, the preparation of the sushi rice was my only deterrent from making them all the time. But now, with the spread of sushi fever ( I could never have predicted this!) ready- made sushi rice is often easily available. Crunchy is not a typical sushi experience, so I thought maki would make a perfect vehicle for this crunchy Szechuan braised celery. And the fresh light briny flavor of tobiko(flying fish caviar) and the creamy sweet egg sheet both make good partners for the celery.
What's with the name? Well, it came to me when I garnished with the celery chevron. If you've ever seen a Kurosawa Japanese medeival war film, like Kagemusha or Hidden Fortress, you've seen that the Japanese warrior helmets had their clan displayed as a piece of bronze sculpture in the form of the clan symbol- attached to the helmet and rising up above their forehead. Funny enough, one such symbol is a crescent moon pointed upwards- just like the celery chevron in these photos! So of course, that was just too much of a coincidence and I had to give these maki an appropriate name!!
- LE BEC FIN
Szechuan Braised Celery; Egg sheet
- 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
- 2 large star anise, broken up
- 2 teaspoons szechuan peppercorns
- 1/4 cup chinese soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dry cocktail sherry
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil (Maruhon preferred)
- 4 ounces peeled celery ribs,from the narrow, top, end,1/2- 3/4" wide, and cut into 8 4" long pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 1 big pinch kosher salt
- In a small bowl, combine ginger through star anise; in second bowl combine soy sauce through sherry. Heat small wok or heavy skillet over highest heat til almost smoking. Add oil, heat a few seconds til smoking, quickly add ginger mixture for 30 seconds, stirring. Quickly add soy mixture and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to boil, add celery and stir well. Turn down to simmer for 4 minutes, stirring the celery a few times -to cover all the surfaces with the braising liquid. Remove from the heat. Leave the celery to marinade for an hour or two, occasionally spooning marinade over. Remove celery from the braising mixture to another container. (Braising mixture can be re-used.)This can be done a few days in advance of maki assembly.
- Get yourself focused for this step, as you must work very quickly.With a whisk, thoroughly and quickly beat 2 eggs and salt . Over medium high heat, heat a non- stick 8" diameter pan and rub with an oiled paper towel. When pan is hot, whisk eggs again and add 1/2 of egg mixture, quickly tilting pan so egg covers its surface. Let sit over heat a few seconds til edges set and middle is almost set. With the help of a plastic spatula, carefully lift edge and flip disc for a few seconds before turning out onto a plate. Repeat with second egg sheet.(Don't worry if they are a little wrinkled and not perfectly flat.)They can be stacked and can be made days in advance. * If you want a little more flavor in the egg sheet, you could add 1 Tablespoon of the celery braising liquid to the 2 whisked eggs.
Maki Assembly and Rolling
- 8 each 4" long pieces of Szechuan braised celeryfrom above
- 2 pieces nori for sushi, 8 " wide
- 2 cups prepared sushi rice at room temperature
- 2 egg sheets at room temperature, from above
- 2 tablespoons tobiko
- or or
- 2 sticks kanikama(crab roll), cut in half lengthwise
- 1- 1 1/2 tablespoon roasted black sesame seeds
- Japanese soy sauce or tamari
- wasabi, (gritty paste has best flavor)
- Place a small bowl of water and a wet kitchen towel in your work area. On a bamboo sushi mat, lay a nori sheet, shiny side down, narrower width at the bopttom. Place an egg sheet on top, centering it on the nori, starting at the bottom edge and leaving a bare strip at the top edge. With wet hands, gently spread 1 cup sushi rice in a thin even layer over the sheet of nori, leaving the top 1/2 inch free of rice. Keep dipping your hands in water so rice won't stick to them. About 1/4- 1/3 of the way up the nori from the bottom, horizontally place two pieces of celery, end to end and cupped side up. Fill the 'trough' of the celery with tobiko or kanikama.Top the filling with 2 pieces of braised celery, cup side down, pushing down to join the top and bottom pieces of celery. (You may need to trim the kanikama so that it isn't too wide to allow the celery top and bottom to meet.) * Sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice.
- With both hands on the bamboo mat, lift up the bottom edge of the nori and roll it up and just over the celery, squeezing tightly. Bend back the mat and roll the maki forward with the mat back on top, squeezing as you go, til you reach the empty top strip of the nori. Wet this strip lightly with water and roll the maki over it, pressing firmly to secure the roll. Turn and squeeze the roll along its full length- four times .Continue making rolls.
- When you are ready to cut and arrange your maki, run your very sharp thin bladed knife under cold water, wipe it, and slice the maki into 6 -8 pieces, wetting and wiping the blade between each cut.
- Serve maki with a soy sauce-wasabi mixture.
- * You can also make this maki without the top piece of celery. (see photo)
- Note: Maki fillings can be many things. In place of the tobiko or kanikama fillings. you could use strips of firm pressed tofu or smoked tofu, or an egg sheet rolled up tightly, or sliced and braised shiitake mushrooms or..... Also, there are many maki rolling videos on the www. Try to find one with an Asian sushi chef. Once you are comfortable with the roling, you will have lots of fun ideas to try out!