Sushi for the Cash-Strapped - Japanese Cooking Tips from a Poodle

Okonomiyaki

Photo by fatman — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Ah, Vancouver. Consistently ranked one of the most livable cities in the world, Vancouver is ridiculously clean, has an adult obesity rate of only 12%, and an average home price of $700,000. Well, well!

Here’s another thing to envy about Vancouverites. Their coastal location and the ethnic diversity of their population has lead to an explosion of top-notch sushi restaurants.

Sushi, you say? Eck, this post is kinda boring. Stick with me, because we aren’t going to be exploring your run-of-the-mill maki. Intrepid recessionistas can turn dinner time into show time by gleaning a few tricks from the Vancouver sushi scene. Whether you live far away from fresh fish, don’t like fish, or can’t afford fish, Vancouver eateries are coming up with creative ways to serve up flavor and freshness to the temporarily cash-strapped. At Zest, perfect cuts of persea americana stand in for more expensive salmon in the “dragon roll”, where avocado is layered on the outside. At The Clubhouse, the chefs throw everything but the kitchen sink into their Okonomiyaki, and cover it with mayo. Saying no to mayo? Try a mango salsa sushi roll from The Eatery instead.

To put a bit of Vancouverian va-va-voom in your plate, start by picking ingredients in season. Ramps, asparagus and artichokes are a great bet right now, and offer inspirational fodder for the culinary mind. I’ve got a hill of wild ramps behind my house, and I recently used them in a maki roll that I lived to tell about, (although no one wanted to listen because I had ramp-breath). Here’s a safer way for me to impart my recipe to you without the unpleasant side effects of halitosis.

Courtney’s Wild Ramp Roll:
You’ll need: ramps, pine nuts, sweet sausage, cream cheese
You’ll need to: blanch the ramps in butter, cook & chop the sausage, make some sushi rice, and than manage to get the whole kit and kaboodle onto a sheet of nori. Roll it up, cut it into pieces, and avoid talking to strangers for 18 hours at least.

If the above recipe sounds fearsome, or you just don’t know what ramps are, treat yourself to this excerpt from the unbelievable Japanese cooking program, Cooking with Dog. Not only will you learn how to make Okonomiyaki at home, you’ll do so to a voiceover by a French poodle named Francis.

Don’t feel like cooking? Bring the whole family out to the Vancouver International Children’s Festival and then go for sushi. Or do something cultural and non-food related. (Our suggestions here).

- Courtney Maum

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One Response to “Sushi for the Cash-Strapped - Japanese Cooking Tips from a Poodle”

  1. Ann J
    May 15th, 2009 09:24
    1

    Just last weekend I collected ramps (wild leeks) in the woods and they are so wonderfully mild and flavorful in soup. I’ll try your recipe next! Thanks Courtney for a fun read.

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