By KC Cibran
I moved to New York City a few months ago — fresh out of college — for a postgrad internship with Cooking Channel. The most-common question I get is, “Is there a lot of food in the office?” The answer is yes. I mean, I literally work with food. When I’m not eating it in the break room, I’m seeing it on my computer screen. I’d say my passion for cool foods has definitely hit a high since I started working here. But when I’m not at work, I am confined to the tiny space that is my kitchen. Girl with big foodie dreams meets tiny kitchen. Seriously, I am confident that I can now win any fridge Tetris challenge.
Despite the space, I pretty much live with an Iron Chef Jr. Her name is Annie, and she keeps me alive in this city by cooking for me. We cook cool foods on a budget and have fun doing it. While researching our next project, we ran into a food craze known as the sushi doughnut. We love sushi, and we love decorating food, so we decided to make our own. Please, step into our sushi doughnut world.
Step 1: Sushi Supplies
Budget and sushi aren’t exactly two peas in a pod, but we managed to make it work. We had some of the supplies at home (soy sauce, sriracha, mayo, roasted seaweed) and we bought the rest at an Asian market (sushi rice, rice vinegar, salmon). The possibilities really are endless because you can top your doughnut with whatever your little heart desires. We went with cucumber, carrots and avocado. For our fish we chose salmon, which was about $7. We also decided to make our own spicy mayo. Annie doesn’t like mayo or sriracha, but I insisted that the delicious sauce be present in our doughnut experience (more for me).
Step 2: Rice Without a Rice Cooker
Making sushi is much easier with a rice cooker, but unfortunately, tiny kitchen does not have one of those in it. So we went for the old-fashioned rice in a pot. We followed the cooking directions on the sushi rice package. This ended up making a lot of cooked rice, hence the giant doughnut, but we’ll get back to that later.
Step 3: Chopping
While the rice was cooking, we prepared the toppings. We used a veggie slicer for the cucumber; we thinly sliced the cucumber (or tried our best to thinly slice the cucumber). We cut avocado slices on this fancy-looking wooden cutting board. We also cut the salmon into long strips. For the carrots we used a small knife to make thin carrot sheets, then we ripped up roasted seaweed sprinkles. Once we finished with all the cutting and chopping, we put the plate in the fridge until it was ready to be used. To clarify: We moved a lot of things around to get the plate to fit in the fridge until it was ready to be used.
Step 4: Waiting
Once the rice was done cooking, our sushi doughnut experience reached a waiting block. We impatiently waited for the sushi to cool. At this point we were off of our sushi high and started to question why we embarked on this journey after a long day at work. We listened to music in hopes that the sushi would cool faster. It didn’t. We were very hungry and decided we deserved an appetizer of dumplings. Either we deserved it or we would pass out if we didn’t eat something — same thing. Once we were done with the dumplings, the rice was ready to go.
Step 5: Rice Vinegar
Once the rice was done cooling, we mixed in some rice vinegar. This probably should have been measured, but Annie is a big fan of “winging it,” and I trust her. We mixed the vinegar into the rice and let it settle. More waiting.
Step 6: Spicy Mayo
While we were waiting for the rice and vinegar to settle, I made the spicy mayo, which was surprisingly easy. I put a spoonful of mayo in a small container and squeezed in some sriracha. I kept mixing and tasting to see how much more I should add. Once the balance was right, I mixed it all together well. Watching it be made and realizing that it really is all mayo was a little bit tough for my appetite, but I got over it really quickly.
Step 6: The Doughnut
So, for this step, we realized that websites said we needed a doughnut mold to mold the sushi into a doughnut shape. However, we, along with I’m assuming many other people, do not just have a doughnut mold lying around. So we came up with our own doughnut mold: a bowl. Turns out, tiny kitchen is very limited on its round-bowl supply, so instead of multiple doughnuts, we opted to make one large sushi doughnut. We put all of the rice into the bowl and cut out a center hole. We then flipped the bowl upside down and out popped a giant sushi doughnut base. We used our hands (washed hands!) to hug the rice and get it to the right shape. At that time, no photos were taken due to very sticky hands.
Step 7: Toppings!
This was by far our favorite part of the process because we got to see this sad rice blob get some color and come to life. We got our plate of toppings out of the fridge and dressed up our doughnut. We rotated between a cucumber, salmon and avocado combo. Once the whole doughnut was covered, we sprinkled the roasted seaweed on top. We moved on to plate the doughnut. I felt like I was on Chopped, except if I finished on time, that clock was very slow — and I mean very slow. We attempted to make carrot flowers, and Annie even gave spicy mayo a chance, spotting it around the plate. There it was, our giant sushi doughnut. We took 1 million (probably less) pictures of our proud creation.
Step 8: The Finish Line
After the pictures we sat down to eat our giant doughnut. We were a little full on dumplings (oops), but we powered through, and it was … delicious, because of the hard work and love that went into it, but it was also just delicious. It was a fun way to just sit around the table and share a meal (or doughnut) with our friends.
Overall, I had a great time making the sushi doughnut on a budget. I definitely feel that it’s a one-time showstopper that I probably won’t be making it again anytime soon. My advice is the more toppings the better because your base is just a whole lot of rice. Making it was definitely one for the books, and we were in a very happy and well-deserved sushi coma when we were done. I want to thank tiny kitchen, the dumpling place and our one bowl for making this sushi doughnut dream possible.