Sweet potato sushi? This recipe for sweet potato sushi recreates a recipe I loved when I worked in New York City. It blends the tastes of sushi with an entirely vegan recipe that’s wonderful!
Recipe for Sweet Potato Sushi
When I worked on the Upper West side of Manhattan between 1999 and 2004, I used to love to take guests to a restaurant called Pacific Echo. It’s since gone out of business, but when I worked nearby, it was my special secret hideaway.
Nestled among nondescript stores and apartments on West 57th or 58th street near Columbus Avenue, it featured Asian fusion cuisine. One of its star dishes was the sweet potato sushi recipe.
Wait, what? Sweet potato…sushi? Isn’t sushi raw fish?
Not necessarily. Sushi recipes can include cooked fish such as salmon or tuna or, in this recipe for sweet potato sushi, cooked sweet potatoes, and other vegetables.
I’m not a fan of raw fish although I do enjoy some sushi. But sweet potato sushi? Yes, please. More, please. I used to make it a point to go out to dinner every few weeks with friends if guests from our regional offices weren’t in town to take out to dinner!
The Ingredients and Original Recipe for Sweet Potato Sushi
I was lucky enough to find a recipe online that inspired my own creation. I changed several things in the base recipe, however. I did not have scallions for the interior, so I substituted diced kale and cabbage, which was the perfect foil for the sweetness of the sweet potato. I also eliminated sesame oil from the marinade, mainly because I didn’t have it on hand.
I bought the sushi ingredients at Walmart, of all places. Yes, they had nori rolls, sushi rice, and sushi sesame seeds. I found them in the “International” aisle hidden on the top shelf near the Thai and Chinese foods.
Working with Nori
I had never worked with nori before and needed a video to help me understand how to roll the sushi up. I also did not have a bamboo mat. Substituting the clean dish towel and plastic wrap and working on the granite kitchen island surface worked perfectly. I was able to roll up the sushi. A very sharp serrated Cutco bread knife did the trick and sliced through the nori perfectly.
Nori is made from seaweed. My husband can’t stand it and describes the taste as “dead fish” (appetizing, huh?) For me, the taste is the ocean and I don’t taste fishy at all. I love it. I actually have seaweed snacks in the pantry!
Each thin sheet of nori is placed on a flat surface. True sushi is made using a bamboo mat but if you do not have one, the technique shown in this video worked perfectly well for me.
The Importance of Using Sushi Rice
Do not substitute regular long grain white rice for sushi rice. Sushi rice forms a sticky surface that holds the sushi together. It’s easy to work with but no other rice provides an adequate substitute. The texture will be wrong and the sushi won’t hold together.
Recipe for Sweet Potato Sushi
- 4 sheets nori
- 1 cup sushi rice Do not substitute any other rice!
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 medium sweet potato Peeled, sliced into thin strips about 1/4 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1/4 cup kale Remove stems, cut fine
- 1/4 cup Cabbage Cut into thin strips
- Prepare the rice. In a fine sieve, rinse the sushi rice for 1-2 minutes under cold water.
- In a small saucepan with lid, place water, rice vinegar, and sushi rice.
- Bring to a boil; stir; cover, and lower heat to simmer. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine maple syrup and 2 tablespoons oil, reserving 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Peel and slice the sweet potato. Dip or rub each slice into the oil and syrup mixture and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake sweet potatoes for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until soft.
- While the sweet potatoes and rice cook, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan. Add kale and cabbage. Sautee until cooked, about five minutes. Set aside.
- Place clean dish towel with plastic wrap OR a sushi mat on the counter.
- When rice is finished cooking, allow it to sit 10 minutes, covered. Then uncover and let it cool 10 more minutes before working with it.
- Place a bowl of water near your work area to wet your hands. Remove one thin slice of nori. Place on plastic wrap. Using cooled rice, spread a thin layer on the nori.
- Place three strips of sweet potato on the rice a few inches from the edge of the sheet.
- Add kale/cabbage mixture next to sweet potatoes.
- Roll the sheet, squeezing gently but tightly until it is a nice shape.
- Place on cutting board and slice into 8 pieces. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Repeat until you've used up all your rice, sweet potatoes and cabbage/kale.
- Serve with soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi if you're brave. Refrigerate leftovers.
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.