Eating healthy does not mean sacrificing texture and flavor and changing your diet plan doesn’t necessarily mean rooting through your cupboards or tossing all of your food from your pantry. Simple changes and fresh additions to your grocery list and weekly menu are a great place to begin.
Late spring and summer are a great time to begin looking at fresh options as farmers markets are in full swing and farms are open for business. Many farmers are more than happy to give you a tour and answer questions about their growing practices, storage and preparation of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some are by appointment only, so be sure to check their page or website first.
I had the privilege of touring the 21 Acres kitchen and talked with chef Asako Fukuda Sullivan while she was preparing 21 Acres Market “Food to Go”. I gained a bit more insight in to the local foods, growing practices and sustainable produce grown on site. Nothing is wasted in their kitchen and it was a joy to watch her work. She is warm, engaging and graciously put together a delicious recipe for our readers to prepare at home.
After chatting with Asako, Brenda kindly took me on a tour of the Market below the kitchen, and it was an intoxicating experience. The aromas of fresh herbs, artisanal products and creative displays are pleasing to all senses. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly and more than willing to answer any questions you may have. Please visit this link for a schedule of demonstrations and classes
21 Acres Market features clean, pesticide-free produce and organic farm products, the Market is open year-round giving shoppers affordable options and the opportunity to support local farmers. “Food to go” items are prepared each Market day in the 21 Acres Kitchen.
A big thank you to the staff at 21 Acres! When prepping the recipe for the site, I left Asako’s notes as is, so that the voice and “flavor” of her recipe isn’t lost.
Some notes from Asako:
People tend to think Sushi has to be fish, but it boils down to “vinegared rice.” It was historically a preservation method, and during hot weather like this, it is an excellent method to keep rice longer.
It is my understanding Sushi was invented to actually preserve the ‘cooked’ rice. A long time ago when folks didn’t have refrigerators and needed to take a lunch box along with them, vinegar or sour food prevented it from going bad. For the same reason, Japanese rice balls often have sour pickled plums as filling. In addition, Wasabi, though it is not sour, does the same thing and it prevents bacteria growth too. And, certainly, vinegar in the rice has citric acid and amino acid to help with digestion and recuperation.
I always use vegetables that are in season. I try to avoid most of the ingredients that Americans are not familiar with or deem to difficult to handle. And, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to write a recipe when people have different “methods” for washing and cooking rice.
In answer to the question “why would you wash rice?” Asako answered: “When you store dry rice, you need to wash it right before you cook it. Washing will help getting rid of “bran flavor” and helps it to cook more plump. Whether you want to get rid of bran or not is a topic for another discussion. Dry rice does keep a long time in the pantry, but don’t forget, rice is the same as other produce and it dries up. New crop rice and old rice have different moisture content, and you can adjust it by adding extra water. I normally start with 1:1 rice and water for new crop rice. You can go as much as 1:2 rice and water for cooking Japanese rice. It is measured by cup, not weight. Another thing about old rice is that rice bran includes oil, and that can go rancid. Washing rice well before cooking will help get rid of the old oil also.”
Easy Vegetarian Chirashi-Sushi
Rice; Sushi Vinegar Mixture; Filling; Topping
- 2 Cups Multigrain rice
Note from Asako: Your choice rice: brown rice plus barley, oat groats, spelt, emmer, einkorn. Rice does not grow in Washington State, so we incorporate Pacific Northwest grown grains as much as we can. My personal normal blend is white and brown rice 2/3 cup each, plus 2/3 cups of barley, oat and other grain mixture.
Sushi Vinegar Mixture
- 8 Tablespoons Apple Cider vinegar
- 4 teaspoons Sugar (organic cane sugar)
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1/2 cup Radish or turnip (Julienne)
- 1/3 cup Shiitake Mushroom (Julienne)
- 1/3 cup Carrot (Julienne)
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame seed oil
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Sake
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- Salt (optional)
- 1 Egg
- 3 Sugar Peas
- Nori seaweed (optional)
To wash the rice mixture: Place rice mixture in a bowl. First fill the bowl with cold water, then rinse the mixture quickly and drain all water. Fill water again, but this time only about ½ or less amount. Scrub rice mixture against each other about 30 times. Drain all water. Repeat filling and draining for 4 to 5 times to rinse the rice mixture until water is not so cloudy. Transfer drained rice mixture to the rice cooker or a heavy bottom pot with matching lid. Add 2 cups of water and set aside for at least 1 hour.
To cook the rice: If you are cooking it in a pot, start heating the pot with high heat. It is important that the pot has a matching lid, and you do not open the lid from beginning to the end. Steam will build up in the pot, and opening the lid will change the cooking process. When it boils and steam is coming out from the side of the pot, reduce to low heat. If using electric heat stove, set it medium low heat to make sure it is not too cold that it does not get cooked. Let it cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, do not open the lid yet, and just turn off the heat and leave it for another 10 to 15 minutes. The steam will keep cooking the rice, and it will make it soft and plump.
While rice is being prepared, make the filling. Julienne radish/turnip and add 1 tsp of salt if desired. Wait for 5 minutes until it starts sweating. Massage the radish to squeeze more water off the vegetable. Squeeze out liquid as much as you can and set it aside. Heat sesame seed oil in the medium size sauce pot, add julienne mushrooms and carrots. Stir-fry for a minute then add sugar, sake, and soy sauce. Add ½ cup of water and cook at medium heat until water boils down to about ½ amount. Set aside.
Blench snow pea for topping. Boil water in a pot and blench snow peas in the boiling water for 1 minute. Drain water. When cool, cut them into strips. Set aside. Break one egg in a bowl, then heat and lightly oil a small to medium size fry pan to cook the egg just as you cook a crepe. When the frying pan is hot, pour the well-mixed egg and spread it thin on the pan. Lower the heat and cook it until the surface is almost dry. Flip it on a cutting board and cool slightly. When it is cold, roll it up and slice it into thin strips. Set aside.
While rice is still warm, mix in the vinegar mixture. Add vinegar, sugar, and salt in a cup and mix well. Slowly pour the vinegar mixture into the cooked rice while mixing. Taste and add more vinegar mixture as necessary.
Finish it off: Mix the filling mixture (radish, and stir fried mixture) into the prepared rice and blend well. Stir gently to avoid becoming pasty. Plate and top it with egg strips and snow pea. Enjoy!
Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Asako came to the U.S. approximately 25 years ago. Her favorite memories from her childhood were visitings farms, foraging and fishing, to finding wonderful seasonal harvests with her father. Her love for cooking was nurtured with her mother’s Japanese traditional and French culinary training.
Previously working in the field of International sales and marketing, Asako traveled to many countries on every continent, experiencing a variety of food cultures around the globe. When she needed to move on from her busy adventures, she returned to the Patisserie and Baking program at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Art to fulfill her lifelong passion for cooking.
After working for several restaurants and caterers, Asako joined the 21 Acres Kitchen team where her love for the food and nature that her parents cherished is a great asset. You will likely see her in the kitchen baking, or creating Japanese and Asian inspired fares for the Farm Market and organization meetings and events.