My son loves rice. Thankfully, brown rice included. Whenever I have made him miniature musubi for lunch, brown rice balls with toasted nori wrapped around them, he comes home with an empty lunch box. To step up the nutrition, on musubi days, I include steamed Okinawan sweet potato, which are full of antioxidants and a good source of fiber. Then it dawned on me that I could combine the two and I started making maki sushi, or rolls, filled with sweet potato and marinated tempeh. Since I am not making sushi rice, by adding vinegar and sugar to the hot rice, this is by no means true maki sushi. Instead, I add a pinch of salt and a baby glug of olive oil to the hot rice. This seems to help the rice stay moist, since he is not eating it immediately. Add your own favorite filling to make it (Insert your name here) Maki! —gingerroot
3 calder maki
8 oz package tempeh (cut in half crosswise) – I used Lightlife brand, Soy tempeh (reserve other half of tempeh for another use)
apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons
steamed Okinawan sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-by-2-inch matchsticks
Cooked brown rice (see below)
sheets roasted nori
Special equipment: an inexpensive bamboo sushi mat (found at any market with Japanese utensils, various online stores, including Amazon)
In This Recipe
Combine tamari, ketcup, apple cider vinegar and sugar in a container with a lid. Stir to combine and dissolve sugar. Add tempeh half. Coat tempeh piece in marinade, cover container and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, make 1 cup of brown rice in a pot on the stove or in a rice cooker by adding 1 ½-cups water and cooking until done.
While rice is cooking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly coat a baking pan with non-stick spray. Place marinated tempeh on the prepared sheet and bake for 10 minutes, flip tempeh and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, slice tempeh into six pieces and set aside.
When rice is ready, add a pinch of salt and baby glug of olive oil. Use a wooden spatula or rice paddle to combine.
On a flat surface (I used a clean cutting board), lay out your sushi mat. Place one sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the bamboo mat. Using the rice paddle, put about 1/3 of the cooked rice onto the sheet, pressing down evenly with wet fingers (be careful, it is still very hot). Make sure to leave a ¾-1” border at the top and bottom. Lay 2 pieces of tempeh and 3 pieces of sweet potato horizontally in the middle of your rice. Lifting up the edge closest to you, begin to roll the sushi around your filling, using the mat to help complete the roll. Enclose the roll tightly with the sushi mat (as shown in the photo). Remove mat, cut into desired number of pieces. Repeat until you have used up all the rice and tempeh. You may have leftover sweet potato, which can be refrigerated and enjoyed later as a healthful snack.
Usually, I pack the pieces in my son’s reusable sandwich container and refrigerate before I leave the house. I add a small ice pack in his lunch box to keep cool until lunchtime.
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.