Ume and Shiso (and Kiwi): Think Sushi
I am in love with salty ume, those puckery, pink Japanese pickled plums. We picked up a big vat of them for cheap at Anzen Hiroshi’s, an old-school Japanese market in Portland. I can’t stop eating them out of the jar. Too bad two plums (actually closer to our apricots) have about 40 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake.
Umeboshi (the plums pickled and dyed red by shiso, or purple Japanese basil) lends itself to sushi. So sushi we made, with the ume paste spread atop the brown rice. Per a newer Moosewood cookbook’s suggestion, I also added some umeboshi vingear along with the standard rice vinegar and mirin to the sushi rice. This salty, umami condiment is worth springing for, for any dishes that need a little oomph. We piled on avocado, spinach and scallions and then rolled the maki up. With leftover rice, I made spicy tuna rolls, with high-quality chunk light tuna mixed up with mayo and Sriacha sauce.
Then today my friend Tony prepared another sushi feast for lunch, with that ume we purchased together. He molded rice triangles, which I fondly remember from Japanese quick-marts, topped with ume, avocado and kiwi slices. Tropical fruits like kiwi and mango make nice sushi toppings. Who knew that kiwi grew in Oregon and into November? It stores well through the winter so I could pick some up at the farmer’s market Saturday.
And I haven’t even gotten to shiso, that green Japanese herb I’ve hardly experienced. It’s also known as beefstake and perilla, as you’ll see it labeled on Japanese packaged goods. You say potato, I say potato. Ume and fresh shiso strips pair well together in maki rolls. A salad dressing of ume and fresh shiso is also tempting. You can find green and purple shiso fresh at Asian markets, like An Dong in Portland (wish I’d sprang for it when we were there!). Look for it here soon.