Monday, June 21, 2010

Rawsome! Exploring living foods

An untimely spill into my laptop keyboard has delayed my posting about the recipes I’ve been experimenting with this spring.
My brilliant husband somehow managed to resuscitate my laptop, and while he performed that miracle, I just spent more time having fun in the kitchen! I’ve made sure to take a few photos of the most delectable looking (and tasting!) dishes.
As I mentioned in my last post about Sirocco Sandwiches, I have been trying out a number of vegan and raw vegan dishes this year for a number of reasons.
My biggest interest in having a repertoire of raw vegan recipes is that raw food is extremely cooling to the body. I have had tremendous difficulty tolerating the heat since earliest childhood – it was one of the top three reasons I left South Carolina!
(For those of you reading back home who think of Montreal as an eternal nuclear winter, tbe summertime can be as oppressive as it is in Columbia – it was in the 90s this weekend and plenty humid).
Two acupuncturists have encouraged me to use cooling foods to help dial down my inner thermostat – raw fruits and vegetables, citrus, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, chard, kale and millet – and it really helps!
So, when I learned our fabulous raw vegan restaurant, Crudessence, offered a number of cooking classes, I decided to sign up for one called, “Traditional Dishes Revisited,” where we learned to make raw-food versions of classic main dishes like lasagne, quiche, couscous and shepherd’s pie.
Being able to make Crudessence quiche (pictured above at left) at home is worth the cost of the course several times over. Their quiche is a nut and vegetable mousse thickened with agar agar poured over a crust of coconut oil, crushed nuts and sun-dried tomatoes, and topped with parsley and julienned raw vegetables, and is quite simply to die for.
Another of my favourite dishes at Crudessence is their Living Sushi. It’s actually quite easy to make and a great way to begin making sushi. With Living Sushi, you don’t even have to make sushi rice – you just grate or food-process a neutral-tasting white vegetable to use as “rice.” A lot of people use cauliflower; some people use jicama, which can be rather hard to find in Montreal. I like to use daikon root, which is really cheap, authentically Asian, and can easily be grated right onto the nori.
If you have never rolled sushi, but in your past you have ever rolled anything else, do not be at all intimidated by rolling sushi. Rolling skills are completely transversal.
If you have never rolled anything at all, just watch people do it a couple of times on Youtube, and then have at it! Mistakes will still taste good, and you will find your way, I promise!
You can make nori rolls without a sushi mat, but it’s really great for tightening everything up. Get the kind with one smooth side and one ridged side.
Place the ridged side down and place a nori sheet on it rough side up. The smooth side of the nori sheet is the outside of the roll.
I julienne some bell pepper, carrot, zucchini and thinly slice an avocado. I put the avocado at the edge closest to me, place straight rows of julienned vegetables above it, and grate daikon over the remaining 5/6 of the nori sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch at the end to moisten with water and seal the roll.
Before I roll it up, I sprinkle sesame seeds all over the veggies. I enjoy it with wasabi and a little bowl of the ultimate raw food condiment, Namu Shoya, an unpasteurized soy sauce that is tangy, a little fizzy and much more flavourful than the stuff in those little Kikkomann bottles.
Living Sushi platters are beautiful showstoppers and will thrill people on sight. When my upstairs neighbour saw the first plate of Living Sushi I ever made (pictured above at top) she enthusiastically invited herself over for a sushi night!