Most days, Uroko is a sushi bar at 1023 Springdale Road in East Austin that specializes in hand-rolls and omakase, but on Thursday nights, the small space transforms into a hands-on sushi class.
The classes, taught by chefs Masazumi Saio, formerly of Uchi, and Takehiro Asazu, a co-owner of Kome, are usually focused on how to make sushi with traditional ingredients, including raw fish, but you can ask for a vegan option, which uses alternatively prepared ingredients. The two-hour classes start at 6:30 p.m. and cost $75 per person.
Uroko has hosted vegan editions of their classic reservations-only, 45-minute omakase, or chef's tasting on Friday and Saturday nights, so keep an eye on the events calendar at urokoaustin.com to find out when the next one is scheduled. During the week, the restaurant is open for more casual temaki, or hand roll, sushi, for which you do not need reservations.
Sushi modoki is the name of this style of vegan sushi, and next month, the Japanese artist iina is releasing a cookbook called "Sushi Modoki: The Japanese Art and Craft of Vegan Sushi" (The Experiment, $18.95) that features some of the basic techniques.
Tazuna Roll: Striped Roll
This vegan sushi roll is an example of sushi "modoki," the Japanese word for "not quite." Instead of using raw fish, the dishes in "Sushi Modoki," use vegetables that are cooked and prepared in a specific way to resemble raw fish. With enough practice, you can make these visually stunning — and animal-free — rolls. Sme tips: Do not overcook the vegetable slices because they will easily fall apart. Arranging the sushi rice in a cylinder shape makes the rolling easier. Use a mandoline to slice the carrots to create the perfect curve for nigirizushi.
— Addie Broyles
4 slices Tuna Modoki (recipe follows)
4 slices Salmon Modoki (recipe follows)
2 cups cooked sushi rice
Tofu Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
Finely chopped parsley
Thinly slice the cucumber and avocado lengthwise.
Place plastic wrap on a sushi mat. Arrange the cucumber, avocado, Tuna Modoki and Salmon Modoki, alternating, on a diagonal across the plastic wrap.
Roll the rice into a cylinder and place on top of the vegetables. Use the plastic wrap to help roll the rice and vegetables, but be careful not to roll the plastic wrap up inside. Peel off the plastic and then drizzle Tofu Mayonnaise over the roll and sprinkle with the parsley. Slice into 8 pieces and serve.
For the tuna modoki:
1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, stemmed, seeded and frozen for 8 hours or overnight
Bring a small saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add the frozen pepper halves skin-side-down and boil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the skin starts to wrinkle.
Transfer the pepper halves to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel the skin off, beginning at the stem side. Cut each half lengthwise into four equal parts. Makes 8 pieces.
For the salmon modoki:
1/2 medium carrot
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
Use a mandoline to slice the carrot into 10 paper-thin slices. Use a vegetable steamer to steam the carrot slices for about a minute, until fork tender.
Spread them on a baking sheet. Pour the oil over the carrot slices and cover tightly with plastic wrap so that it touches the carrots. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Transfer a few slices to an oven-safe dish and sear with a kitchen torch. Makes 10 pieces.
For the tofu mayonnaise:
1 (14-ounce) package silken tofu
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
Remove excess moisture from the tofu using a paper towel. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth. This will keep for 10 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 2 cups.
— From "Sushi Modoki: The Japanese Art and Craft of Vegan Sushi" by iina (The Experiment, $18.95)