Post image for Istrian sushi/ Istarski sushi

Istrian sushi/ Istarski sushi

by Gogo on March 22, 2009

in Antipasti,EatIstria Recipes

Istrian sushi from wild asparagus

I wanted to play a bit and be creative with a bunch of wild asparagus I picked yesterday. Idea was to prepare them in a way that would least influence their own vegetable taste. So I created an istrian version of sushi that is at least visually alike, and maybe even tasty enough. Here is the recipe, still in work in progress state.

I had at home only arborio rice, but anyway it will be fine for making hand-formed clumps since the risotto rice contains a lot of starch. Indeed, it worked and the rice clumps were easy to model. Then, I steam cooked wild asparagus very shortly, just 1 min or so, and placed them on top of each clumps. To glue everything together, I mixed melted butter, olive oil and salt, cooled everything down until I got a creamy sauce that was poured over asparagus. The plate was then put in the fridge for few hours. Before serving I placed in between the clumps a cup of thick aceto balsamico, a gift from my friend Carlo from Modena, that was playing the role of soya sauce. The trick succeded completely, people were expecting the sweet and umami (glutammate) taste, instead they got sweet and acid.

Ok, you are right, it is not a real sushi since there is no raw fish, but still it was fun, it was delicious and refeshing as an appetitizer. What else do you need?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John J. Goddard April 3, 2012 at 17:42

First rule of preparing sushi rice: Wash the rice several times to remove the starch! When the water runs clear, the rice is ready to cook. This is one of the techniques necessary to achieve the firm, sticky clumps of rice used for sushi.


Gogo April 3, 2012 at 17:51

John, would you use italian rice varieties, like vialone nano or arborio? we are more used to that than to asian ones


John J. Goddard April 3, 2012 at 20:07

Well, risotto rices such as arborio, vialone nano and carnaroli are short grain rices, so they – like japonica – have a high starch content. Starch is, obviously, what gives the sticky texture desired in sushi, but if you leave the residual starch on the grains you end up with the thick, creamy, brothy texture such as desired for risotto. For sushi, the grains should be separate, but still stick together. So you wash and rinse the rice several times to remove the powdery starch residue on the outside. So yes, theoretically these rices from your region are practically ideal for sushi. They’re short grain, and so they have high starch for the stickiness.

Cooking it slowly and gently is the first step, but then you also have to cool it quickly while you add seasoned rice vinegar. Traditionally, one person will fan air over the rice while another person adds the vinegar and gently stirs it in, so that every grain gets some vinegar and air. These days, you can do it in front of an electric fan by yourself, very quickly. The cooling process removes more moisture and enhances the firm, sticky quality.

OK, now I also want to do experiments with Istrian sushi! We will have to play around with this concept when I get over there. Looking forward to it!


Clem April 3, 2012 at 19:22

How yummy! Sushi rice is kinda round so I think Italian rice can do the trick. Also sushi is not only raw fish, my sushi book has actually one recipe with asparagus and pepper, so there you go!


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