Sushi Cones with Sesame Tofu

November 16, 2023

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A nod to Japanese cuisine today, one I cook often for the simple vibrant flavours. Not all of the traditional ingredients are readily available at my regular grocery stops so I do use some creativity to find that essential balance in flavours. 

I spent 8 days visiting Japan in 2007 (wow, 16 years ago now!). A whirlwind 8-day trip where I arrived completely unprepared for the hot humid summer weather – a time before you could easily check the weather with an app on your phone. With an obligatory trip on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka to Hiroshima and back again, then up to the magical city of Kyoto to explore the temples and narrow old-world streets. 

A memorable trip, particularly as life in Japan seemed to revolve around food and eating. Just perfect for a foodie and I hope to return again one day. For now, I reminisce about the cuisine at our excellent local sushi shops, along with the food we share around the kitchen table at home. 

Sushi is a firm favourite, although I tend to make sushi bowls more often – essentially the components of sushi served in a bowl. Recently I have (re) discovered hand-rolled sushi cones – or temaki sushi. As the weather warms I tend towards deconstructed type meals such as burgers or falafel wraps. This way the initial prep time is reduced and everyone can make their own at the table with the fillings they like. Scroll down for the recipe.

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Have you ordered your 2024 Recipe Calendar yet?

Inside the 13-month calendar (Dec 2023-Dec 2024) find a collection of my favourite recipes and images from recent years. This handy calendar, printed on sturdy paper, is perfect on your kitchen wall (standard A4 calendar size) for all your monthly planning. I already have my own copy hanging up to add dates for December and beyond. I like to write neatly in pencil (not always the case, mind you) so I can easily erase any date changes and keep the calendar tidy for years to come. I have also heard from others who take apart the calendar at the end of the year and stick the recipe pages into a scrapbook (clever!).

Recipe calendars make great end-of-year gifts – contact me directly for a bulk order – and sit nicely under the Christmas tree for your foodie family and friends. Find more details and order copies here.

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Make-Your-Own Sushi Cones with Sesame Tofu

The ingredient list is quite long for this recipe but don’t worry too much if you don’t have all of the Japanese pantry ingredients. The main focus is rice, nori (seaweed sheets), and soy sauce. The rest can be swapped in and out, and although it may not be quite as authentic, sometimes we have to make do with what we have. Even the sesame tofu (I know tofu is not everyone’s favourite), can be swapped out for leftover roasted chicken, grilled salmon, thin egg omelette, or focus on fresh vegetables. 
Servings 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

Sushi rice

  • 1 ¼ (250g) cups sushi rice (or use medium-grain white rice)
  • 1 ½ (375ml) cups cold water
  • 1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine) - optional
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

Sesame Tofu

  • 300 g block of tofu, cut into 1cm slices
  • ghee or coconut oil for cooking
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp cornflour or tapioca flour

Selection of fresh vegetables, cut into thin strips, eg:

  • cucumber, carrot, capsicum, snow peas
  • bean sprouts
  • avocado slices

To serve

  • 6-8 nori sheets, cut into quarters
  • soy sauce or tamari
  • wasabi

Instructions

  • Place the sushi rice into a saucepan and cover with cold water, set aside to soak for 15-10 minutes (if you have time) then rinse thoroughly in a sieve - this is an important step to remove the excess starch.
  • Place the rice back into the saucepan and add the 1 ½ cups of cold water. Cover with a lid and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10-12 minutes until ‘tunnels’ appear in the rice. Remove from the heat and leave to steam, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Tip into a shallow bowl to cool a little.
  • Make the sushi seasoning by combining the vinegar, mirin if using, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat. Sprinkle this over the cooling rice.
  • At the same time as preparing the rice, marinate the tofu. Place the sliced tofu onto a plate and drizzle with the soy sauce. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes.
  • Prepare the selection of vegetables and arrange them on a large platter. Keep chilled if prepared ahead of time.
  • Once the rice is cooling, cook the tofu. Scatter the sesame seeds and cornflour or tapioca onto a plate. Roll the tofu pieces in the mixture to evenly coat.
  • Heat a large frying pan over a moderate to high heat. Add a spoon of ghee or coconut oil and cook the tofu in batches for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a serving plate and cut each piece of tofu in half lengthways.
  • Arrange the table with the warm rice, sliced vegetables, tofu, quartered nori sheets, and soy sauce and wasabi to serve. To make a sushi cone add a tablespoon of rice to a square of nori. Top with chosen fillings, add a splash of soy sauce and dot or wasabi (if you like) then roll into a cone. That is it, enjoy!

Notes

Brown Rice Sushi Cones - I also often serve this (or sushi bowls) with brown rice - see image below. I find pre-soaking the fibrous rice in boiling water for several hours speeds cooking.
Measure 1 cup medium-grain brown rice into a saucepan. Pour over about 2 cups boiling water, cover, and leave to soak for 3-8 hours (I often do this at breakfast). Rinse the rice in a sieve, then tip it back into the saucepan. Add 2 cups boiling water and a generous pinch of salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes - lift the lid as little as possible, or even better use a glass lid. When 'tunnels' are visible in the rice, remove from the heat and leave to steam with the lid on for a further 10-15 minutes. Continue with the recipe above to make the sushi seasoning and cool the rice. 

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