Broccoli-and-Shallot Nigiri: A Japanese Classic with a Twist

Makes: 8 nigiri • Time: 1 hour

Rice bears a fundamental importance to Japanese cuisine. Notably, the words for cooked rice, gohan and meshi, also stand for the Japanese word for meal, as if to say that no meal is complete without it. For an apprentice aspiring to become a sushi chef, carefully washing the rice for months is the beginning of a successful career. Nigiri, made with this same sushi rice, is a simple, uncooked dish that’s often packed into bento boxes or school lunches. This nigiri recipe can be lightly sautéed for a bit of crispness, but is also delicious as is.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup short grain sushi rice
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 head of broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Ponzu sauce, plus more for brushing
  • ¼ cup minced chives
  • Black sesame seeds

Directions

1. Rinse the sushi rice in a sieve under cold, running water until the water runs clear. Drain and place in a heavy saucepan. Add 1¼ cups cold water, then bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let sit, covered and undisturbed, for 10 minutes after cooking.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil and the sesame oil in a skillet over moderate-high heat. Add the broccoli and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add the ponzu sauce and reduce, 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the chives.

3. On a work surface, lay out a piece of plastic wrap and grease with canola oil. Lay out 2 tablespoons of rice. Place about 1 tablespoon of the broccoli mixture over the rice and cover with another 1 tablespoon of rice. Wrap the plastic wrap around the rice and tighten into a ball by twisting the plastic. Lay the rice ball onto the work surface and shape into a triangle (the most traditional nigiri shape) using your fingers. Sprinkle sesame seeds onto the sides of the nigiri. Repeat these steps with the rest of the rice and broccoli.

4. If sautéing the nigiri, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons canola oil in a skillet over moderate-high heat. Carefully add the nigiri and sauté 30 seconds. Brush the top of each nigiri with ponzu sauce, then flip and cook for 30 seconds more.

5. Serve hot with additional ponzu sauce for dipping.

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