Planning menus for dinner parties in the Sukkah has already begun. On Sunday we put up the metal tubing frame that we re-use every year in construction of our Sukkah. The Los Angeles area has perfect Sukkot weather, since the days are sunny and bright this time of year and a sweater or light jacket is usually sufficient to keep you warm while enjoying dinner outside under the stars. The local B’nei Akiva members make a fun evening out of delivering the schach and the local municipalities seem to time their palm tree trimming about a week before Sukkot begins. The charge is about $3.50 a palm frond (branch) and my Sukkah needs about 30-35 to make a roof that allows one to see the stars. The fee supports teenage activities in the community.
One night I like to make a formal dinner for some friends, with a soup course, fish course, salad course, a main entrée, and finishing with a dessert buffet. On another night, for a different group, I prefer to make a ‘small plates’ kind of meal. For example, pastelicos de carne’, petite stuffed cabbage, chicken satays, bastilla (Moroccan chicken pie), kufte de prassa, pumpkin borekas, sliced brisket, Israeli salad, stuffed artichokes…and a large dessert buffet. (recipes for these items are in the recipe index).
I am always searching for something new to add to the menu, something else to please everyone’s palate and delight the eyes, stepping it up, just a little bit. Last year, while at a yoga retreat with my husband in Hawaii, we tasted a simply fantastic appetizer at the Cane and Taro restaurant in Whalers Village at Kaanapali, Maui. The roll comes hot from the fryer to your table, pre-sliced into perfect bite size circles, and accompanied with a rich soy dipping sauce. Perfect red pink tuna in the eye of the slices surrounded by bright green spinach and a panko crust makes your mouth water.
It took me several tries to figure this out. First time I had difficulty rolling the roll and keeping it closed. Next try, the panko was falling off in the frying process. Finally I emailed the chef at Cane and Taro. A few days later my mouth fell open in surprise when I received a return phone call from the manager who connected me with the chef. He explained the technique to me and voila, I think I got it.
Serves 4 to 8 as an appetizer, small bite, this makes two rolls
One sushi roller mat
1/ 2 cup sushi rice
Scant 1 cup water
8 ounces fresh Ahi tuna (sushi grade)
8 ounces baby spinach, pre-washed
2 sheets nori (seaweed)(it is available with kosher certification)
1 box tempura batter
1 (8 ounce) box panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
Vegetable oil for deep frying
To prepare rice, bring rice and water to a boil in a small saucepan, turn down the temperature to lowest setting and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is cooked and sticky, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. At this point if you were making sushi there is another step for the rice but for this roll you need only plain rice.
Slice tuna into long 1 inch square rectangles. Using a moist kitchen towel, very slightly moisten a crisp sheet of nori. Place it on the sushi mat. Place a thin bed of spinach leaves over nori leaving a 1/ 2 inch border on the long ends. Place tuna rectangles on one end of the spinach. Spread a couple of tablespoons of sushi rice at both ends of nori sheet. Grasping the sushi roller mat at the end where you have placed the tuna, roll it up using the sushi roller to tightly press and compact the roll. The rice on the ends will act like glue to stick roll together.
Place tempura batter mix as per instructions in a medium bowl. Place panko crumbs in another medium bowl or flat dish. Preheat oil in a deep medium saucepan or deep fryer to 365° F. Prepare a dish covered with paper towels to place cooked rolls on after frying.
Dip formed rolls in tempura batter, place rolls in panko to cover, and then place in the hot oil. Fry for a minute or two, until golden, using a deep frying strainer or slotted spoon, remove immediately and place on dish lined with paper towel. Slice each roll into about 6 circles and serve.
1/ 2 cup low sodium soy
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons wasabi paste
Place ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt coconut oil and whisk to combine ingredients. Place sauce in a serving bowl when it is warmed through. Serve warm next to sliced Ahi Roll.