Popeye Sushi Burrito with Garlic Ponzu
Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you! Our family always loves an excuse to celebrate and when we’re able to incorporate Star Wars, even better. Today will be filled with Star Wars references, puns, and general silliness. Tomorrow is another day to celebrate. Not only is it Cinco de Mayo, but it’s also Kodomo no Hi. Growing up in Southern California, Cinco de Mayo (a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War) was always recognized. I remember our high school usually had a mariachi band come and perform during our lunch period and my family usually used it as an excuse to eat Mexican food. When we moved to Japan we added even more celebrating to the day, because in Japan, May 5th is Kodomo no Hi, or Children’s Day, a national holiday dedicated to celebrating the health and happiness of children. In honor of all the celebrating that is coming our way tomorrow, I am sharing a recipe for a sushi burrito . . . totally appropriate, right?
One of my favorite sushi rolls at Tsunami, a sushi restaurant near our house, is named Popeye. It’s an uramaki (roll with the rice on the outside) and it’s filled with steamed spinach, red bell pepper, mango, and avocado, then rolled in thinly sliced Thai chilies and topped with garlic ponzu (a citrus based sauce). I’ve been meaning to make a copycat version at home for months and this week finally got around to it when I had a particularly strong craving for it. I started by making the garlic ponzu so that it would have time to steep. (Just mix all the ingredients in a jar and set it aside, or put it in the refrigerator overnight.)
When I was prepping all the ingredients for the sushi burrito I decided to switch things up and turn the roll into a sushi burrito (sushirrito).
I spread sushi rice over sheets of nori, added the fillings, then rolled it up into a tight roll.
I made two different sizes–one using only a single sheet of nori and one using a sheet and a half (you attach the extra by moistening the end of one of the sheets with a fingertip dipped in water, then overlapping the sheets and pressing them together). (If you want to learn how to make sushi rice, check out my sushi rice tutorial.) For the larger burrito I used extra rice and more filling. To be honest, I think I liked the smaller sized burrito that only used one sheet of nori. Although the larger burrito was fun, the smaller one was easier to eat. Plus, if you make them smaller, then you have an excuse to eat more than one. Or two.
I like wrapping the burritos in sheets of parchment pepper because it makes them easier to serve and eat. If you are packing them in a picnic or bento, leave them as is. If you are serving them immediately, slice them in half–they’re so pretty! Serve them with the garlic ponzu for dipping and enjoy!
Popeye Sushi Burrito with Garlic Ponzu
A copycat version of one of my favorite sushi rolls from a local sushi restaurant, turned into a sushi burrito. It is filled with spinach, mango, red bell pepper, avocado, and Thai chilies, and served with a garlic ponzu dipping sauce.
Garlic Ponzu Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
- 1/3 cup reduced sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 slices lime
- 1 piece of kombu (dried kelp) (approximately 2" x 2" in size)
Popeye Sushi Burrito Ingredients:
- 5 cups prepared sushi rice
- 4.5 ounces baby spinach (about 4 cups loosely packed)
- 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into thin strips
- 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into thin strips
- 3 - 4 Thai chilies, thinly sliced
- 4 sheets nori
Make the Garlic Ponzu Dipping Sauce:
Mix the tamari, lemon juice, orange juice, and maple syrup together in a glass jar. Then add the garlic, lime slices, and kombu. Cover the jar and set it in the refrigerator overnight to steep. Whe you are ready to use it, make sure and strain out the solids before serving.
Make the Popeye Sushi Burritos:
Prepare the sushi rice.
Place a metal steamer basket in a medium saucepan and fill the saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil, then add the spinach, cover the pot, and let the spinach steam for 3 minutes, or until just wilted. Remove the spinach from the steamer and set it aside to cool. Once it has cooled, squeeze out the excess water.
Place a sheet of nori, smooth, shiny side facing down, on a clean cutting board or a sushi rolling mat. (It's easier to roll it if you have a sushi rolling mat, but it still can be done without one!) Fill a small bowl with warm water to keep next to your work surface.
Dip your fingers in the water, then use them to spread about 1 cup of the rice evenly over the nori, leaving about 1 inch of nori at the end opposite from you, so that you can seal your burrito. Continue dipping your fingers in the water as needed, to prevent the rice from sticking to them.
Lay down some of the spinach in a line across the sushi, about one inch away from the edge closest to you. Then repeat with strips of mango, red bell pepper, and avocado. Add some of the slices of Thai chili, being careful not too add too much and to spread them out so that you don't hit a pocket of extra spiciness.
To roll your burrito: Place your thumbs under the rolling mat and lift the nearest edge of the mat with your thumbs and index fingers. (If you aren't using a rolling mat, place your thumbs under the nori.) Hold the fillings in place with the rest of your fingers. Use the mat to fold the edge of the nori over the fillings. Pull back the edge of the bamboo rolling mat (so that you do not roll it into the sushi) and continue to roll tightly until the whole burrito is complete. The 1-inch of exposed nori at the far end will seal the roll. You can also wet your finger and lightly moisten the far end so that it seals easier.
Wrap the sushi burrito in a piece of parchment paper, twisting the ends to seal the burrito inside. Set it aside and repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.
Cut the roll in half, using a sharp knife moistened with a bit of water. Be careful not to push down too hard with the knife, which will cause the pieces to be misshapen and will push rice out of the sides. A gentle sawing motion is best! If you are packing the burritos to go, don't cut them beforehand. Serve the burritos with the Garlic Ponzu Dipping Sauce.
Adjust the spice level of your burritos by using more or less of the sliced Thai chilies, or skip them altogether. If you can't find Thai chilies you an substitute inced habanero pepper.
If you want to make a slightly larger burrito, you can use an additional 1/2 - 1 sheet of nori. Attach the extra nori by moistening the tip of your index finger with warm water and drawing a line across the short edge nearest you, then placing the extra nori, smooth, shiny side face down, overlapping slightly with the full sheet of nori, and pressing them together where the nori is damp. I find that attaching the extra nori closest to you is better, as it will then be rolled up inside the burrito. If you do it at the far end, you risk the sheets coming apart.