Over the past month, I have been experimenting with an idea I have had. Being from the south, I grew up around collard greens, sweet potatoes and bar-b-que. With the sushi craze, I wanted to see if I could combine sushi with southern flavors. This is what I came up with after much trial and error.
Taking traditional ingredients and transforming them is one of my favorite culinary ventures. It is amazing to take a bite of something and taste all the layers and flavors. Collards are a southern staple. In my application, I cooked them the 'southern way." This method uses a long cooking time in addition to some type of smoked meat product. However, I did one thing different in my process. Typically, collards are stemmed and cut into pieces, I left mine whole but cut the back of the stem out.
In this process, you want to take most the stem out but you don't want to cut all the way through the leaf.
After the collards cook, carefully remove them from the water, making sure not to rip the leaves. Place the leaves into a dehydrator and dehydrate for 6-8 hours until completely dried.
|Collards being loaded in the dehydrator|
|Dehydrated Collard Green|
The next step in the process is making the "sweet potato rice." This is a quick and easy process. Cut the sweet potato on a mandoline, then take the strips and cut them into 1/4 inch sections to make the "rice." After some spices and a quick saute, you have the "rice" for your sushi.
The coleslaw is very simple to make and ready in minutes. I used red cabbage to give the sushi more color. The cabbage adds a crunch and the acidity helps round the flavors.
The last ingredient is the bar-b-que. This ingredient can be purchased if you don't have a smoker at your disposal. If you have a smoker, get a pork shoulder or boston butt and baste it throughout the smoking process. I used a spicy apple cider vinegar sauce to baste the pork. I also smoked over hickory and apple wood chips.
The last step is rolling the sushi. Just like regular sushi, I used a bamboo mat to help roll the collards. I laid out the sweet potato "rice" and then added the coleslaw and pork. I rolled it and sealed it with a little bit of honey.
Recipes are as follows:
1 bunch Collard Greens, cleaned and veined
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
1 ham hock
3 quarts water or stock
3 tbsp salt
2 tbsp fresh cracker black pepper
2 tbsp sugar
1) Add all the ingredients together in a stock pot, bring to a boil and simmer until collards are tender. About 1.5-2 hours.
Sweet Potato Rice
1 sweet potato, julienned and cut into 1/4 in sections
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp cold water
1) Combine the slurry (cornstarch and water) in a bowl and set aside.
2) Saute the sweet potato in the olive oil over medium-high heat until soft but still firm in the middle.
3) Add spices and sugar and stir until combined
4) While stirring, add slurry. The mixture will pull together to form the rice.
Red Cabbage Coleslaw
1 medium sized head of red cabbage, cored and julienned
1 yellow onion, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1) Mix the vegetables in a bowl.
2) In a separate bowl mix vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper until sugar dissolves.
3) Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables and toss. Let sit to marinate, occasionally tossing to coat vegetables.