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Author Notes: 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
Serves: 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)
teaspoon apple cider vinegar
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)
- 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.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Brown Bag Lunch