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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2001
This book is visually stunning, with some of the most inventive sushi I've ever encountered: nigiri colorfully topped with slices of carrot and lotus root tied together with a green stem; sushi rolls cut to reveal a pattern of plum blossoms, hearts, roses, or a checkerboard; a cute sushi ball topped with a shiitake mushroom cap that resembles an Oriental hat; others wound with shreds of vegetables to look like multicolor silk balls. There's sushi presented in a pumpkin cup, several varieties of stuffed tofu sushi, a sushi-and-vegetable "pizza," sushi salads, and even fruit sushi. Each recipe is illustrated with a mouth-watering full-page color photo, and the extremely clear directions feature rolling or assembly diagrams. I pounced on this book not only for its visual artistry and as Japanese Food Host at BellaOnline, but to make special vegetarian treats for my vegan son and his friends.
Yet, there's a central problem with this book. All the recipes I tested are virtually tasteless!
I'm sorry, but plain sushi rice topped with a slice of carrot boiled in saltwater does not make it in my culinary estimation. Nor do the beautiful sushi rolls that consist solely of rice wrapped in nori-however eye-appealing they are-or the assortment of boiled, saltless beans served over brown rice! And grapefruit cup sushi made of okra, carrot, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and grapefruit sections tossed with rice and stuffed into a grapefruit half? Yuck!
Even the basic rice recipes are peculiar: the one for white sushi rice calls for seasoning the rice with apple cider vinegar and honey instead of a standard sushi-su made from rice vinegar and sugar. A brown rice version uses salty plum vinegar and mirin. I've been trying to figure out if this book is meant to embrace Zen macrobiotic diet principles. But no, then honey wouldn't be called for. Also, for reasons unknown, the authors do not even mention wasabi in the book. Likewise, soy sauce is never suggested as a dipping sauce to accompany the sushi recipes. (Indeed, there's little soy sauce used throughout the book, and then almost exclusively to cook shiitake mushrooms or tofu pockets). And, despite several attempts, my sushi rice seasoned with plum vinegar did not turn out a bright pink as is shown in the book-or even pale pink. The authors might be using a different brand of plum vinegar than what's available in my area, but nowhere was that brand specified.
Of course, one can always add beet juice or food coloring to rice to achieve that lovely pink shade, or incorporate Japanese pickles to liven up the flavors of fillings, or add a smear of wasabi, or serve the sushi with a wasabi and soy sauce dip. But these ideas are not brought out in the book.
If you intend to use this book as inspiration and let your imagination soar, then this may be a great resource for you. However, if you are the kind of cook who needs to follow recipes exactly, or are seeking to re-create a Japanese restaurant taste experience, you are apt to be sorely disappointed with the results of the recipes in this book. Caveat emptor!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2000
I have been waiting for a book like this for years! I find Japanese food intriguing but was unsure as a vegetarian where to start looking for meatless alternatives for sushi. Although some of it is involved and some of the ingrediants are difficult to come by if you are not within relative distance to an asian market,so I would recommend this as an excellent book for special occasions and holidays.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2001
I purchased this book on a whim, wondering, "What does one do with vegetarian sushi?" The answer to that question might be, "What CAN'T one do?" I have read more than 4 books on making sushi, several of which were very favorably reviewed. Those were traditional sushi,containing fish. "Vegetarian Sushi Made Easy" incorporates many artistic possibilties. This book provides simple, step-by-step instructions on making sushi in a variety of designs. One feature that I've not seen in other books is the use of colored rice to add a new dimension of possibilities. Another lovely feature is mounds of rice "wrapped" in thin strips of vegetable...very colorful. There are directions for sushi rolls, mounds, cakes, "pizzas", stuffed tofu pockets, nori stuffed and cut open to look like figs (the fruit), and sushi rolled to incorporate designs such as hearts, ladybugs, flowers, a "free form" sushi presented much like a composed salad, and others. I took this book to work with me and showed it to a number of people. Even those who swore that they would never try sushi were captivated by the book and liked the idea of sushi sans fish. The directions are the most clearly written that I've seen so far, and EVERY design has a full-page color photograph followed by directions. I highly recommend this book to those interested in learning to make sushi. It is technically and artistically stunning.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 10, 2001
If one skims this book, one is impressed by the creativity and the beauty of the various sushi recipes. The recipes depend upon technique in rolling to create flowers, yin-yang symbols, cones, barber cones ... There are some of these designs based upon dyed rice, ineatible leaves, or exotic serving pieces - all techniques opposed to my cooking style. These recipes also depend upon ingredients not common in an American kitchen e.g. black beans, soy beans, red soy beans, fresh green soy beans all required for a single recipe. The problem becomes one of obtaining the necessary ingredients in small quantities or how to use the remainder if bought in normally available quantities.
However, if you approach this cookbook not in terms of actual recipes but for inspiration, this is an excellent book - it allows one to move far beyond avacado rolls, cucumber rolls, Seattle rolls, California rolls i.e. the mainstays of sushi beyond the raw fish sushi. It has wonderful photos of presentation possibilities - food as pleasing to the eye as to the palate. It provides ideas for using Asian vegetables in small quantities; you learn if you like the taste and texture before betting a meal on it. It's only flaw - you're left on your own for dipping sauces and other condiments - a flaw that allows one to search for pickling recipes or even chutney/salsa recipes to add some flavorful "zing" to the meal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2011
I got this book from the library to try it before buying it. I am really glad I got to see the inside because it's not easy at all! I think what bothers me most about this book is that the title is so misleading. The last word I would use to describe these recipes is easy. Then again, maybe other sushi books are even more complicated, I'm not sure. I gave it two points because I applaud the fact that they made a sushi book that a vegetarian can enjoy and because the sushi is very aesthetically pleasing. The sushi is amazingly beautiful - you can make rolls where the vegetables are arranged in such a way that it looks like a rose, snails, a branch of wisteria, or some other extravagant thing. Mine of course would never come out looking that way, and I think only someone very experienced with sushi could get the rolls to come out the same way as in the book. Overall, a very intimidating book. I would only suggest this book if you are willing to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, making sure your vegetables are placed in just the right position, and don't mind spending two minutes eating something that took you two hours to make. Just not practical for most people, in my opinion.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2007
You will love this book. If you are a vegetarian and love sushi then this book will send you straight to sushi heaven! Great pictures and easy to understand. You will be on your way to creating beautiful tasty sushi in no time at all.
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