I have some Goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus) in my garden. Today I noticed they were nearly overgrown, so that’s the time to set up a recipe, now or never! Nature does not wait until the lockdown is over.

I then pick it up as fast as I can, have a look in the fridge and.. needless to say, it is empty. It looks like I have only some nice Parma ham. In these lockdown days I missed very much some sushi. That’s the reason of this daring recipe. But it worth the while trying.

As I have no wasabi, I will try to boost the taste with a sauce made with hogweed leaves (Heracleum sphondylium) I found in the meadow just outside my door. Next time I will try to add some spicy hogweed seeds.

The result? Not bad at all. I liked this recipe very much, that’s why I now want to share it with you.

The fatty and sweet taste of Parma ham goes well with the crunchy bitterness of the Goat’s beard and the slight sourness of the rice.

Ingredients for 16 maki:

  • 4-5 Goat’s beard shoots
  • 2 Carrots
  • 100 gr of Parma ham
  • 10 hogweed young leaves
  • 50 gr Rice (I had not the proper sushi one, so I used the italian Roma rice)
  • 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar (again, I had to use the apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper, water q.b (to taste)

The only important thing about this recipe is to go by steps, in order to save time. It looks like a long process, but as you will be able to do more than one thing at a time, it will take broadly one hour to make it all.

  1. Wash the rice

Wash the rice more than once, to get rid of the excess starch. I did put it in a colander and in a bowl, to make it easier. Let it sin in water for some minutes, than gently rub it with your hands, or stir it in circles with your fingers. Wash it with running water. Repeat the process until the water is nearly clear. This should take 7 or 8 washes. Now it’s time to cook it (see point 3).

  1. Cook carrots and Goat’s beard

Slice the carrots lengthwise. Boil them. Meanwhile, clean the goat’s beard discarding the scales on the stem. It’s here where you find trapped the soil particles. Add the shoots to the boiling water (goat’s beard requires less time than carrots) and cook for 6 minutes. Drain the vegetables and rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking.

  1. Rice seasoning

Once cooked, you will have to add a seasonig, made with vinegar, sugar and salt. For the present amount of rice it would be enogh 2-3 spoons of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Heat until the sugar is dissolved, without boiling it. Let it cool.

  1. Rice cooking

In order to make sushi, once cooked, the rice will not be drained. The amount of water is more or less the same weight of the rice (100% to 120% depending of the type of rice). In this recipe is 50 g. You can use a rice cooker or a non-stick saucepan. Put the rice and cold water in the saucepan, covered with a lid. Bring it to a boil, then lower the flame al let it cook for 12 minutes. Once cooked, don’t open and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

  1. Cooling and seasoning the rice

Traditionally a large wooden bowl known as a ‘Hangiri’ or ‘Oke’ is used. The wood of the Hangiri helps absorb any excess rice vinegar. If  you don’t have it, just use a large container with flat bottom.

Season the rice with the vinegar seasoning, stirring gently with a wooden paddle. Make sure not to brake the grains. Don’t use a metal paddle. That will damage the grains.

Let it cool for a few minutes, than scoop the rice to one side of the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth.

  1. Common hogweed sauce

Simmer hogweed leaves in salted water for 5 minutes, drain and cool them under tap water, in order to keep the vibrant green colour. Mix in the blender with a few drops of olive oil, pepper, and water until you get a smooth sauce.

  1. Rolling

Place the bamboo rolling mat on a cutting board. Spread a strip of plastic wrap over the bamboo mat. Then place the parma ham on the plastic wrap. Spread a thin layer of sushi rice over the ham.

Leave about ½ inch of free space on one long side, to let the ham adhere once rolled. Spread some hogweed sauce over the rice and add carrots and goat’s beard shoots in the center. Don’t overpack it.

Gently lift the bottom of the mat up and over the sushi. Press and shape the ingredients into a tube. Roll with pressure so you get a firm roll. Leave it in the plastic wrap and repeat the procedure to make the next one.

Before slicing, put them in the fridge for about half an hour to make them firm. Slice the sushi rolls with a wet knife, with the plastic wrap still on. You will pull it away before lining them on the plate.

Sushi – Maki with Goat’s beard shoots

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