Salmon Stars in Sushi Role


* Chef Katsuo "Naga" Nagasawa at Cafe Del Rey in Marina Del Rey, California, presents smoked salmon in a beautifully structured, time-honored sushi roll. But he goes beyond tradition by seasoning the rice like a salad. Inspired by his innovation but lacking his technical skill, I've borrowed the essentials of Naga's salmon roll for a simpler - but still traditional - temaki (hand-rolled sushi). I present the ingredients separately; diners put a little of each on a square of nori, then fold the seaweed over the filling - sort of a Japanese taco.

Smoked Salmon Sushi Salad

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 50 minutes

NOTES: Up to 1 day ahead, make sushi rice salad, cover, and chill; bring to room temperature to serve. Garnish with cucumber if desired. Specialty ingredients are available at Japanese markets.

MAKES: 4 servings

Sushi rice salad (recipe follows)

6 sheets roasted (or toasted) nori (about 7 by 9 in.)

1 firm-ripe avocado (about 1/2 lb.), peeled, pitted, and sliced Seasoned rice vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons shaved bonito (optional)

1/2 pound thin-sliced smoked salmon, cut into strips

About 1/4 cup sliced pickled ginger

About 1 ounce radish (or daikon) sprouts, rinsed and drained

2 to 3 tablespoons tobiko caviar Chili mayonnaise (recipe follows)

1. Rinse a 1- to 2-cup bowl with cold water and lightly pack 1/4 of the sushi rice salad into it. Invert onto a plate. Repeat to shape remaining portions.

2. Cut nori sheets into quarters. Moisten sliced avocado with rice vinegar.

3. Sprinkle sushi rice salads equally with shaved bonito. Alongside each, arrange 1/4 of the nori, avocado, salmon, pickled ginger, and radish sprouts. …

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