I wanted to try something new and since it’s the year of the rabbit, this seemed like the perfect thing to make.
Non-bento #29: Year of Rabbids roll
Created and eaten: 1/27/2011
For a while I’ve wanted to try making a “kazari-maki.” Kazari-maki means “decorated roll” but it’s not like your usual sushi rolls. You arrange ingredients inside a roll so that when you cut it, the roll has a pattern, flowers, animals, etc… Kazari-maki has been very popular in Japan and all over the world because all you need is seaweed, sticky rice and, most importantly, your imagination!
I picked the Rabbid from the video game, Rayman Raving Rabbids because it looked simple enough and it is the year of rabbit after all. I thought having multiple Rabbids from a roll would be funny. But who knew planning out a kazari-maki would be so hard?
First I drew the outer circle to be the same length as a big sheet of seaweed. Then I drew a Rabbid’s head inside the circle, and decided what color and corresponding food would be used for each part. After I drew the sketch, I measured the outside of the eyes, mouth, head and ears, then cut seaweed to that length + a half inch so there’d be overlap to stick it together. I put them in a ziploc bag to keep them dry until I used them… Later I’d find out this preparation would pretty much be a waste of time.
Originally I was going to use kamaboko (fish cake) for the teeth, but I had daikon (Asian radish) in the fridge. So I cut daikon into strips, cooked them, seasoned them with a little vinegar and kept it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, I cooked rice. For the white part I mixed rice with sushi powder, for the mouth I mixed some with soy sauce (while heating the rice on a pan so the rice wouldn’t get soggy), for the pink part of the ears I mixed rice with cooked cod roe, and mixed the rest of the rice with salmon flakes.
Notes on salmon flakes: I made salmon flakes by cooking salmon in a pot with cooking sake, mirin, salt and fish stock powder, constantly crushing the salmon with a spatula. Salmon flakes are very easy to make and you can put them inside rice balls, mixed them in scrambled eggs, etc… From half a pound of salmon filet I made an entire jar of salmon flakes! Also don’t throw away the skin! Toasted salmon skin is very delicious.
Back to the roll. The eyes were too small to make out of rice, so I rolled up a string of cheddar cheese inside a white cheese single, wrapped that with seaweed then wrapped it in plastic wrap until I needed it later. It’s very hard and confusing to explain the process so I decided to add some drawings for each step. (click on the image to see a bigger version of the image.)
For the mouth, I placed the daikon strips on a piece seaweed, filled the gap between the teeth with the soy sauce rice, rolled it, and wrapped it with plastic wrap.
Already I realized I had a problem. I was afraid of this but I realized that the roll for the mouth was bigger than the sketch, which meant everything else had to be bigger. So much for preparing in advance! I hate giving up… so I cut new bigger pieces and set aside the ones I had done in advance.
For the ears, I first put white rice on a piece of seaweed, put cod roe rice on top of one side of the sushi rice, folded it sandwiching the cod roe rice inside the white rice, and wrapped it with plastic wrap. I made another piece for the other ear and also set them aside.
The next piece was the face. I put a line of white rice on the center of a piece of seaweed, and placed the mouth roll over it. Then I put a thin layer of white rice around the mouth piece to make the head. After that I placed the eye pieces over the rice layered on top of the mouth. Then I layered more white rice on top of the eyes, closed up the seaweed for the head roll, tightly wrapped the whole roll with plastic wrap and set it aside.
Finally it was the time for the most difficult part, putting the head and ears together and finishing the roll.
As I mentioned, a half sheet of seaweed wasn’t long enough for the finished roll. So I took two half sheets and overlapped the edges. On the seaweed I put a line of salmon rice and placed the head roll on top in a sideways position. Then I put in the the ear pieces so they fit on top of the head (with some more salmon rice filling the space between the ears).
Once they were in place, I layered more salmon rice on top, rolled the whole thing up, cut extra seaweed off, and rolled it tightly in plastic wrap.
The whole time I was trying to make the rice even, but the rice was sticky and getting very messy. So to be honest, I was just glad that I was able to roll it up and be done with it. But it wasn’t over yet because I was worried about how much of a pain it would be to cut the gigantic roll without messing it up. It could’ve been too late. It just didn’t look too promising.
But I had to see the result whether it was a disaster or not, so I decided to cut the end of the roll first.
To my pleasant surprise, it didn’t look THAT bad! Sure it was all smooshed and didn’t look like a Rabbid, but my expectations were so low that I was kind of happy. The end pieces were cute too.
The key to cut any sushi roll, especially a big one, is that you have to wipe the rice off the blade with a wet paper towel after every couple slices. I sliced halfway through the roll, stopped to clean the blade and then finished cutting. I was able to cut three thick pieces out of it. Kazari-maki is more like a rice ball than a regular sushi roll, so you don’t have to dip it in soy sauce to eat it.
This will show you how much bigger the roll was than the original plan…
Will I do this again? Maybe, maybe not. For only a few big rolls of rice, the planning, making each piece, putting them together and cutting the roll (all the while not sure if it’ll turn out) seemed a bit excessive even for me. But because you have no idea what you’ll get until the very end, it was very exciting to see the end result. If I do it again, I’ll definitely make it a simpler character.
There’s a book about how to make kazari-maki (unfortunately it’s only available in Japanese). In Japan you can even get a certificate to be a kazari-maki instructor by taking kazari-maki classes. You can find some kazari-maki videos on youtube, but I never took a class or watched any videos. I just drew a sketch and tried it. If you’re thinking of making kazari-maki, make sure the roll is half the length of a regular roll. (by cutting the seaweed in half) If you make it too long, it’s very hard to keep individual pieces in place when you roll.