Monday, September 23, 2013

Shiitake Nigiri

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Makes 6-8 pieces
Total active time: 20 minutes
Total passive time: 45 minutes to 1 hour, to cook the rice

There is an outdoor cat that lives across the street from us. She is a gorgeous tortie/himalayan with bluish eyes who has an elegant sway to her step and oozes sweetness. Every time we've run into her, she gives us a high-pitched but soft hello meow, and purrs when you rub her head. Since we're not sure of her name, we just refer to her as fancycat
If you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you'll see a picture of Nimrod, our exclusively indoor 12-year old manx, who embodies slightly different but equally endearing qualities.   

As I had just finished making the shiitake portion of these nigiri for the blog, my ears were blasted with a sound I have never heard before that can only be described as a mix of several sets of tires squealing off asphalt. I knew it was coming from Nimrod, and thought that she was surely in an accident and horribly injured. When I found her, she was glued to our glass front door, body extended into the shape of a starfish, with fancycat mirroring her pose with equal intensity on the other side.

I scooped Nimrod up, slammed the main door and held her tight while I composed myself for about a minute. My hands were still shaking uncontrollably after I put her down (the noise really was quite horrible), but Nimrod just rolled casually onto her side and began to lazily groom herself. I sat with her until she decided to get up and go to her cat bed. By the time I returned to my sushi, the sauce had turned cold and clumpy, but I gently reheated it and assembled everything as planned, and prepped it for shooting, (as I'm currently trying to teach myself to do a little photography for the blog!) 

These were so quick and easy to make and although I dragged the fresh shiitake caps through some thickened Everything Sauce, prepared teriyaki or any other thickened asian-inspired sauce will work here as well. The rice and shiitake work perfectly together here, creating a harmonious balance—which especially hit the spot after the day's mini-drama.

for the rice
1/3 cup sushi rice, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and rinsed well in a sieve
2/3 cup cold water
1 TB sesame seeds
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt 

for the shiitake
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
6-8 shiitake caps, washed and destemmed 
1 TB water
1/3 cup Everything Sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 1/2 tsp cold water

to serve
6-8 flowering chives or toasted nori, cut into thin strips
black and white sesame seeds
soy sauce

Place the rice and water in a rice cooker set to the sushi rice setting. Once the rice is done, stir in the sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sugar and salt and allow to slightly cool.

Place the sesame oil in a small pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Trim a little off the edges of the shiitake caps to make all of the caps uniform in size if you want. Add in the shiitake caps, gill side down, for about a minute. Flip them over and drizzle the 1 TB of water over the top, and allow to soften for about a minute more. Dab off any remaining moisture with a papertowel.

Add the Everything Sauce over the shiitake, then flip again. Drizzle the cornstarch/water mixture over the top, stirring immediately. Once it thickens, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to slightly cool.

To form the nigiri, separate the cooled rice into 6-8 equally sized, football-shaped pieces (wet your hands first to prevent sticking). Drag the shiitake through the sauce, then place on top of the rice. 

If using flowering chives, run them under hot water for about a minute to make them pliable. Tie the chive securely around the nigiri, or or wrap a toasted nori strip around it, using a bit of water to seal it. Sprinkle with extra sesame seeds, then serve immediately with soy sauce.


  1. oh these sound delicious:) and look so stunning, too - you're very good at making your food photogenic! I wonder what the cat behaviour was all about?

    1. Thank you Christine! I assume the issue was a fight for dominance, but I guess we can't ever tell for sure what cat behaviors mean!

  2. This is an amazing presentation. And Nimrod is a cutie!

  3. Oh my goodness! Cats are so mysterious! lol

    And I am SOOOO making this dish this week. Yum yum

  4. that is crazy.. cats:). dogs dont do random stuff. so its a boring day out here most days. the only thing chewie does is sneak in from behind me to get to the food. but he stopped doing that after a few stern warnings:) that is a beautiful picture and presentation!

  5. To have an animal that responds to "stern warnings!" Nimrod just looks at me and walks away when I do that. : ) Thanks for the compliment on the photo. Photography is definitely hard -- I have a new appreciation for it now that I am trying some myself, but it's a fun challenge. And I am blown away by other bloggers (YOU) who do it all, all the time so well! : )

  6. Oh my god it's beautiful. I've been really enjoying making your recipes. Thanks for the great meals.

  7. As the owner of two kitties, I certainly know that crazy ear-piercing squeal. Pussins aside, your nigiri looks fantastic!

  8. Such a creative recipe! The Shiitake mushrooms seem to compliment this dish so nicely. Can't wait to try it!


  9. Here is a story of how sometimes my adaptations are not a good idea, and I should not mess with a good thing:) I made these last week sometime, but will have to make them again per your instructions because I love the presentation. I thought I had the genius idea of stuffing the little oblongs with fermented bean taste for a little kick. Well...that may have been a good idea in a very small consistency. But I put quite a dollop in each ball which resulted in a very strong, pungent, and overpowering taste. Still, that was my bad alone--but I wanted to let you know I tried these, and will make them again in the future for their beautiful presentation.

    1. Thanks for trying them out, Leila!

  10. I made these tonight and they were amazing! I got really excited when I saw this recipe because I love sushi but my rolling skills aren't that great. These still took a little dexterity (tying the chives) and mine didn't turn out as pretty as yours, but they were still pretty impressive. The shiitakes had a great melt-in-your mouth texture and savory flavor. Thanks so much - I'll definitely make these again!!!

    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed, Alissa ... thanks for your kind feedback!


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