Introduction: Bacon Sushi

Sushi is the perfect combination of tastes; crisp, salty sheets of nori, wrapped around the sweet and tangy filling of vinegary rice, stuffed with a mild piece of fish. So, how do you make something already so good even better? With BACON, of course, as the crisp and salty substitute to the sheets of nori. And what if you used the same grains of sushi rice to cook up a luscious, creamy risotto, with pieces of sauteed mushrooms or fresh green peas as the filling? Can it be possible to make such a perfect food even more perfect?

Step 1: What You'll Need

This recipe makes enough bacon sushi to feed 2 - 4 people.

 - 2 x 500g(1 lb.)  packages of bacon (I chose an applewood smoked bacon, but any type would work)
 - 3 tbsp. oil
 - 1 medium onion, finely diced
 - 1 1/2 c. sushi rice
 - 3/4 c. white wine (replace with chicken stock for a version without alcohol)
 - 4 1/2 c. chicken stock
 - 2 tbsp. butter
 - 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

This is the basic risotto recipe, but it allows for a multitude of variations. Risotto is a customizable dish so feel free to choose your own add ins. In this Instructable, I show both a classic green peas and ham risotto, with the bacon standing in for the ham, as well as an asian mushroom risotto, playing off the origin of the sushi itself. (See step 4 for ingredients)

Special tools:

 - bamboo sushi rolling mat
 - roasting pan with drip tray to cook the bacon (can be replaced by a cooling rack placed on a baking sheet)
 - thick-bottomed cast iron pot, which cooks the risotto more evenly (not necessary - just make sure to watch for rice sticking to the bottom of the pot)

Step 2: Cooking the Bacon

The bacon "nori" will have to be partially cooked before it can be rolled with the risotto filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay half a package of bacon on the rack of the roasting pan, then bake for 10 minutes. Turn the bacon strips over, then continue cooking for another 10 minutes. The idea is to cook the bacon slightly less than crispy, as the strips need to remain pliable enough to be rolled into a maki.

Once cooked, transfer the bacon strips to a plate to cool, and repeat the cooking process with the remaining bacon. Set the cooked bacon aside.

Step 3: Making the Risotto Filling

I once made risotto with sushi rice, since I had no Arborio rice on hand, and I decided that the starchiness was similar in the two. My experiment was a success, and the resulting dish was just as delicious. For this bacon sushi, it seemed almost too perfect to make the filling of sushi rice risotto.

First, you have to prepare the stove-top for risotto-making: place the heavy-bottomed pot to cook in on the front burner of the stove, then put the saucepan for the stock on the back burner. Pour the stock into the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Adding hot stock to the dish will keep the risotto cooking evenly. Adding cold stock would only slow down the cooking process.

In the large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the rice to the pot and stir until coated in the oil, about 1 minute.

Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed.

Begin adding the stock to the rice, one ladle at a time, allowing the liquid to be completed absorbed before the next addition, while stirring constantly to prevent the rice from sticking. Keep adding stock to the rice until all the stock has been used up, the rice is cooked and the risotto is creamy.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese. Set aside until ready to assemble the sushi rolls.

Step 4: Jazzing Up the Risotto

Risotto is a wonderfully customizable dish, and a quick search on the internet will result in a multitude of variations. Here are two of my favorites:

Asian mushroom risotto

 - 1 tbsp. oil
 - 1 package enoki mushrooms
 - 1 package brown beech mushrooms
 - 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

Remove the hard root balls from both types of mushrooms, and break them apart into small sections. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the beech mushrooms and saute until they begin to brown. Add the enoki mushrooms and fresh thyme and toss to combine. Continue to saute for 1 minute longer, then add the mushrooms to the risotto.

Green peas and ham risotto

 - 1/2 c. frozen green peas
 - 1/2 c. diced cooked ham

Before adding the last ladle of stock to the risotto, add the frozen peas and diced ham to the pot. This will warm them up during the last few minutes of cooking. (Note: I only added the peas for this variation, as I decided that having bacon-wrapped ham risotto would be a little too much pig for one dinner.)

Step 5: Rolling the Sushi

Cover the sushi rolling mat with a large piece of aluminum foil as protection from the risotto and bacon grease. (You don't want your next sushi dinner tasting like bacon. Or maybe you do...) Lay the strips of bacon vertically over the mat, making sure they all touch to create a "sheet" of bacon "nori". Cover the half closest to you with a layer of risotto, about 1/2 inch thick.

Using the aluminum foil and rolling mat as guides, pull the edge of the bacon roll up and over itself, to begin rolling the sushi. Push the end down and into the rice, and the bacon should start curling in on itself. Work your way along the roll, pushing the bacon in on itself while pulling the aluminum and sushi mat away, creating a tight roll. Once you get to the end of the bacon, check the roll. If there is too much filling, it will be squishing out by now, and you can remove it to make a cleaner roll. You should now have one complete bacon sushi roll. Roll the sushi in the aluminum foil, close the ends, and set it aside. Lay a fresh piece of aluminum foil over the rolling mat and continue using the rest of the bacon and risotto until you have 4 complete sushi rolls.

Step 6: Baking and Slicing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the aluminum foil-covered sushi rolls in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. This will warm all the ingredients and crisp the bacon a little more. It will also melt any cheese fillings you may have decided to add to your rolls.

Remove from the oven and unwrap one roll on a cutting board, Using a sharp knife, cut the maki in between each bacon strip. Place the cut pieces onto a platter for serving. Continue until you have cut all the maki pieces.

Step 7: And You're Done!

Serve the sushi with a light crispy vegetable side dish, such as refreshing cucumber sticks, or a green salad. White wine makes an excellent compliment to the meal, especially if it is the same wine used in the risotto. If you like to dip, I suggest a nice marinara sauce, warmed slightly, but the sushi is also great by itself.

Enjoy - I know I did!

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