go for the shortcut to green: desire paths ::::
It’s green. But it’s not Irish. Close enough for today.
Traipsing around Britain, Wales, and Scotland as a child, my family holidayed often, to fasten ourselves to the countries, to absorb what we could before moving back to the United States. We saw cobbled homes with scruffy thatched roofs, drove along majestic craggy cliffs on the Atlantic, smelled the history in cathedrals, walked through creaky multi-generational manor homes, peered at enshrined yellowed documents and art, and walked through countless rugged green hills speckled with cows, sheep, or horses.
We spent one such holiday on a farm in Wales (my note-taking from 1982 as a child indicates this was Talhenbont Hall in Snowdonia), me spending most of the time cajoling the animals of the grounds to come near. There was Warwick the German Shepherd. There was a cadre of fat, tabby farm cats, likely with no lack of farm mice to eat. I remember the geese George and Mildred pecking around for food, goslings wobbling nearby. The horse and donkey wandered freely and occasionally greeted us at our kitchen window, peering in with sad, brown eyes. I hung around the farmer’s kids, listening in awe as the daughter Lucy gathered the ducks for the night, “DUCKIES! DUCKIES! DUCKIES!” she whooped across a clearing in the woods. And they came flocking for a top off of food and water. We had fresh, saffron-blebbed eggs every morning. We even took a trip down to the milker, where the dairyman raw pasteurized our milk, fresh from the cows that morning. There were dozens of acres to explore and places to get lost in.
I wandered some, though stayed on the graveled areas mostly, trying to find a cat to pet or to spook the peacock. But there were desire paths all about. A desire path is a trail formed from foot-fall or other traffic, the more desired route due to a shorter or more easily navigated route. It is the path created when a downed tree blocks the main walkway. It is the carved-out walk through a meadow of long-grass. It is the beaten, dusty curve avoiding the sharp left at the trailhead. It is the packed snow trail across a field in winter. It is the connector between one adjacent cul-de-sac to another. It is user defined. It is ultimate convenience. Sometimes shortcuts are best way, more easily navigated by many, an offbeaten trail, sometimes leading us somewhere more deftly than some hard, paved road.
The recipe today is my shortcut. If you are in the mood for vegetarian maki sushi without the finicky rolling, this is your recipe. And it’s almost vegetarian, if you decline the pork sung addition (but don’t! It’s awesome!). I didn’t set out to make-sushi-not-make-sushi with this recipe. It was more a realization: I gravitated to this recipe for the vegetables and nori, the flavors, the mayo, all of the green, AND the fact it was easy and gave me instant gratification. The whole sushi comparison was secondary — for you. (In my book, sushi must have seafood in it — vegetarian sushi seems like a cop out.)
A patchwork of green this is, in recipe and in my memories, deviating slightly from today’s green and St. Patrick’s Ireland across the ocean from Wales, then flinging us far to Japan. Quite the desire path of my mind and the ever-present nostalgia, getting lost in it all.
One year ago: nautilus cookies (very cool!)
- There is not much on measurements as it is all to taste.
- Roasted nori, cut into 4 inch squares
- Sushi rice, cooked
- Rice vinegar
- Asparagus, trimmed
- Kewpie mayonnaise (American brand mayo is okay to use, but Kewpie, by far, is a better choice.)
- Pork floss / pork sung (optional)
- After cooking rice, allow to cool slightly. Mix in a few glugs of rice vinegar and a few sprinkles of furikake.
- Meanwhile, bring pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl of ice water nearby. Add asparagus to boiling water, and cook for 30 seconds to bring out the brilliant green color, then immediately transfer to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well and blot dry. Cut the asparagus spears into around 6-inch lengths. Set aside.
- Set up an assembly line with the components.
- Take a couple spoonfuls of rice, mold them gently into an oval and place in the middle of a cut piece of nori.
- Mix a bit of mayo in with the asparagus and add 2 to 3 spears on top of the rice. Sprinkle with furikake, add another squirt of mayo, and close opposite edges of nori. If you want a little crunch ans salt and eat meat, a sprinkle of pork floss (pork sung) is a great addition.
- Serve immediately. Assembled, these should be eaten the day they are made.