Last year, when my hubby and I went out to pick a Christmas tree, we ended up with a charmingly chubby one, more stout and cute than grand. This Christmas Sushi Tree is inspired by our adorable spruce from last Christmas–an edible version of it!
You can make Christmas Sushi Trees from regular sushi rolls made out of nori, but to carry the tree theme use Yamamotoyama’s beautiful soy wrappers. These super thin, crepe-like sheets are colored with spinach for a natural shade of green.
It’s always important to have vegetarian options at get-togethers, so this is a great recipe to keep meat-free. For a festive look, fill the rolls with roasted red peppers and avocado. The roasted peppers are easy to use, full of flavor and complement the soft avocado nicely.
For a pop of freshness and color, throw some chopped chives atop the tree. The cut herbs help to accent the tree layers and make it party-ready. Serve piping hot cups of Yamamotoyama’s aromatic green tea around this Christmas Sushi Tree and each cup is as good as a present!
Makes 1 tree.
|- 2 cups seasoned sushi rice|
|- 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry & cut into strips|
|- 1 avocado, cut into strips|
|- piece of yellow bell pepper|
|- 1 bunch chives, chopped finely|
1. Place a sheet of soy wrapper on a sushi mat, dull side up. With wetted hands and a wetted 1/2 cup measure, spread out 1/2 cup of rice on the sheet of nori, leaving a 2″border at the top and a 1/2″ border at the bottom
2. Place slices of red pepper and avocado across the rice, 1″ from the bottom border of the rice.
3. Roll the mat upwards holding the filling in with your fingers. Continue rolling up to create a tight roll. Use light dabs of water on the edge of the wrapper to help seal the roll.
4. Cut each roll into 8 equal pieces by cutting each log in half, then each half into 4 pieces.
5. Start creating the tree by placing the rolls on a board or plate. For the base layer, use about 12-13 pieces, placed side-by-side in a circular shape.
6. For the next layer, I use about 7-8 pieces of sushi, again placing them side-by-side in a circular shape.
7. The third layer from the bottom will have about 5 pieces.
8. The fourth layer from the bottom will have 3 pieces, and the last top layer will just have 1 piece!
9. Use a small star cookie cutter to cut out a star from a piece of yellow bell pepper. Stick a toothpick in the center of one side, then stick the free end of the toothpick into the top piece of sushi. Finish by scattering chopped chives on top.
I love spring rolls at all times of the year, but in the summer they’re especially delicious. Sips of refreshing iced tea in between bites of crunchy, veggie-packed rolls and life is good.
I usually use rice paper to make spring rolls, but soy wraps are a nice way to add a pop of color to your summer table. These Shrimp & Mango Rolls are a like tropical version of lettuce wraps, light and healthy.
To go along with the rolls, there’s a spicy green curry based dipping sauce. A packet of green tea adds a fresh vegetal fragrance to the sauce, and complements the slices of mango perfectly. If you’re craving some richness, also try adding a slice of ripe avocado.
I love enjoying these with an ice-cold glass of Genmaicha. The taste of toasted rice in the tea helps to take the place of a whatever carbs you feel like you might be missing in the meal.
When the days are long and hot, make these colorful wraps as a healthy tea time snack. The combination of sweet and spicy are a brilliant combination of flavors!
|- boiled shrimp, peeled (I like to use cocktail shrimp)|
|- mango, peeled, pitted and cut into sticks|
|- leaf lettuce||- red cabbage, shredded|
|- thin vermicelli, cooked according to package instructions|
|- soy wrappers (I used Yamamotoyama’s Orange Soy Wrappers)|
Lay a piece of soy wrapper on a work surface. Place 3 shrimp evenly along the center of the wrapper, followed by an even layer of lettuce. Lay some sticks of mango and shreds of red cabbage atop the lettuce, followed by vermicelli. Fold both sides of the wrapper atop the center strip of ingredients, snugly. Flip the roll over, shrimp side up/ seam side down. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 3 equal pieces.
|- 1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)|
|- 1 tsp green curry paste||- 2 Tbsp brown sugar|
|- 1 tsp fish sauce||- 1 packet powdered Sencha green tea|
|- squeeze of lime juice|
Place the coconut milk, curry paste, brown sugar, and fish sauce in a small pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to low. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce covers the back of a spoon. Take off the heat, squeeze with lime and set aside to cool.
Which do you prefer–frilly tea sandwiches or plain ones? Personally, I’m partial to the plain variety, but I must admit–the fancy ones have a magical way of attracting the eye and setting a mood.
Delightfully Lacy Ham & Cheddar Spirals are all about the finishes and frills. Each sandwich is wrapped in a delicate pastel layer of soy wrapper cut with a decorative paper punch–yes, the same punches used for crafting and scrapbooks!
Craft punches come in so many impressive patterns. The ones used here go straight across, like a ribbon. The classic look of this infinity lace pattern is one of my favorites.
Start with soft, fresh bread. It’s important the that bread have enough moisture so that it stays compacted after being rolled out. If you can find it, super thinly sliced cheese also comes in handy. Make sure that both ingredients are at room temperature so that they’re pliable and don’t break apart during the rolling process.
Although I’ve made these in the classic ham and cheese, this roll-up technique will work with many fillings, including egg salad, chicken salad or even veggies. The trick is to handle the piece of the flattened bread as if you were rolling up a sushi roll.
For convenience, make the sandwich “logs” the night before you plan on serving. On the day of, all that’s left to do is slice and wrap with colorful lace. Finish with some chopped herbs and these pretty canapés are ready for tea time!
|- sliced bread, crusts removed||- ham cold cuts|
|- thin cheddar cheese slices, at room temperature|
|- mayo||- chives, chopped|
|- soy wrappers (I used Yamamotoyama’s Soy Wrappers), cut with edge paper punch into lacy strips|
1. Cut the crusts off of a slice of bread. Use a rolling pin to compress the bread to a tortilla-like thickness.
2. Spread a thin layer of mayo across the bread, making sure to cover the entire surface. Now place a slice of cheese directly atop the bread. If you need to, use another piece of cheese to cover the entire surface of the bread in a single layer of cheese. Now place a slice of ham atop the cheese in a single layer.
3. Starting at the bottom of the slice, roll upwards like you are making a sushi roll. Roll tightly and evenly. Place the roll into a fridge container, seam side down. For best results, make the sandwich logs the night before you plan on serving.
4. When ready to serve, cut the sandwich “logs” into 3 equal pieces. Wrap a piece of lace-cut soy wrapper tightly around the sandwich. Seal it at the seam with a dab of mayo. Sprinkle with chives to finish and enjoy!
A trip to the local farmer’s market yesterday yielded 2 gorgeous bags of produce and a bunch of organic carrots that went straight into making these Carrot & Raisin Chicken Salad Wraps. For some reason, springtime fresh veggies just seem to taste better when they’re eaten the same day that they’re bought!
Chicken salad comes in so many classic variations, many on the salty and savory side. This version has a mild, natural sweetness thanks to the addition of grated carrots, raisins, and some orange zest and juice.
It’s important to grate fresh carrots here instead of using pre-shredded carrots. The thinner pieces meld into the salad better and won’t poke out through the wrappers.
To make these carrots, fill paprika colored soy wrappers with a scoop of the chicken salad. The wrappers are great for using if you want a lower carb option on your tea table, a lighter version of carrot cones made with crescent rolls.
If you can get your carrots in whole form, this is a perfect time to use the green tips to decorate the top of these carrot wraps. If your carrots don’t come with, just use some sprigs of curly parsley.
The flavors of these Carrot & Raisin Chicken Salad Wraps pair wonderfully with teas that have a hint of orange or citrus flavor in them. A fragrant Earl Grey is especially delicious here..enjoy!
Makes 15 cones.
|- 1 cooked chicken breast||- zest of 1 orange|
|- 1/3 cup raisins||- 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped|
|- 1 large carrot, grated||- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped & toasted|
|- 1/4 cup mayo||- sprigs of parsley or carrot tops|
|- 1-2 Tbsp orange juice|
|- 8 orange soy wrappers (I used Yamamotoyama’s Soy Wrappers), cut in half|
1. Mix all of the chicken salad ingredients together, walnuts last.
2. Lay a 1/2 sheet of soy wrapper out on a work surface. Spoon 1/4 cup of the chicken salad on one end of a soy wrapper.
3. Take one corner of the wrapper and tuck in and over the filling.
4. Create a cone-like shape by rolling the wrapper up, leaving one side open and another side narrowed to a tippy point. Continue rolling the wrapper over, tightly and evenly.
5. Place the cone seam side down. Snip off a ruffled piece of parsley or a carrot top off of a long sprig.
6. Tuck the edges of the open side into the middle of the cone. Insert the parsley sprig or carrot top into the open side of the cone to finish.
Every spring, I make it a point to celebrate with sakura blossoms. These blush-pink blooms mark the arrival of another sunny time of year, and of course, picnic or hanami season!
Many imagine the flavor of sakura blossoms as being cherry-like, but because the flowers are pickled, it’s actually much more of a salty flavor. Although the blooms have some floral undertones, sakura blossoms taste nothing like cherries.
Since we eat with our eyes, I thought it might be a good idea to feature sakura blossoms atop a savory dish like sushi. For those new to sakura, this is a great way of hinting at what you should expect to taste.
The rice of this sushi is flavored with Sakura Denbu, or flaked cod, which gives a mild fish taste to the rice. Like the blossoms themselves, this pinkish powder is both savory and sweet, and also tints the rice the prettiest shade of ballerina pink.
I like to use a thin sheet of green soy wrapper to provide a color contrast to the beautiful blossoms. The crepe-like look is especially delicate, making the rolls almost resemble little cakes!
Serve these with a hot cup of Sencha or even some of the sakura tea leftover after hydrating the blossoms. Even better, take these along for a picnic under a canopy cherry blossoms. There isn’t a better meal to celebrate springtime with!
Makes 8 pieces.
|- 1 cup cooked white rice|
|- 3 Tbsp Sakura Denbu|
|- 1 green soy wrapper (I used Yamamotoyama’s Soy Wrappers)|
|- 8 sakura blossoms|
1. Soak the blossoms in a cup of hot water for about 5 minutes. Remove the blossoms from the water, shake off any excess water, and set aside. The leftover liquid can be diluted with more hot water to create a sakura tea.
2. Scatter the Sakura Denbu in with the rice and mix together. Place the soy wrapper on a sushi mat. With wet hands, distribute the rice on the lower half of a soy wrapper sheet. Roll the mat upwards to create a tight roll. Cut the roll into 8 equal pieces.
3. Place a blossom atop each roll. Enjoy alone or as a side dish.
Onigiri Pops are the savory version of cake pops, those one bite wonders that are always a hit at parties. These are like sushi on a stick, but that much easier to make with the help of some delicate, crepe-like, edible soy wrappers.
To make Onigiri Pops, you’ll need a greater proportion of rice to filling. It’s also important to use short grain sushi rice here–its stickiness allows for the rice ball to secure around the stick.
Naturally small or tiny bits of flavorful ingredients work well here. Ground meat, finely diced veggies or even freshly cut herbs will all make tasty additions, just be careful with the amounts that you use.
This is a great time to use up leftovers like grilled salmon or tuna. Even the canned variety will do. Flake it up with a fork and make sure it’s free of fine bones before throwing it in with the hot rice.
Just like the wrappers on sugary lollipops, you can see some of the ingredients peeking though these semi-transparent soy wraps. A tie with twine and Salmon & Pea Onigiri Pops are sure to add an unexpected pop of fun to your next sushi party!
Makes 8 pops.
|- 1 cup seasoned sushi rice|
|- 1/4 cup petit peas|
|- 1/2 cup cooked salmon, flaked|
|- soy wrappers, cut into 5″ squares (I used Yamamotoyama’s Soy Wrappers)|
1. In a mixing bowl, lightly mix all the ingredients together.
2. With wetted hands, shape the rice into 2 Tbsp balls. Let the rice balls sit for about 10 minutes so that they hold together well.
3. Insert a lollipop stick into the center of each rice ball. Wrap each ball with a soy wrapper, then tie with a piece of twine.
So it seems that wherever I go for afternoon tea these days, I’m running into mini ice cream cones. Tea sandwiches are the classic, but these delicate, cookie-like vessels now often take the place of bread, and are filled with all kinds of yummy fillings, from savory to sweet.
One of the tastiest fillings for mini cones is a scoop of sweet-hot curried chicken salad. This is a no-frills chicken salad recipe made with apples, plenty of curry powder, and a touch of cilantro. The cones are fresh and crisp using my batter recipe from Homemade Fortune Cookies. But don’t worry–in a pinch you can just purchase these online.
I like to add an extra pop of color to these bites by slipping a square of soy wrapper into each cone, the same kind used to make sushi. For this recipe, I prefer the orange wrappers made with turmeric or the green wrappers made with spinach. Both are complementary to those spicy curry flavors in the filing.
The wrappers also serve as a moisture barrier between the filling and the crisp cone. They magically prevent the cone from getting soggy, especially great if you plan on serving these for a party.
There are a few items that a tea time menu always should always have and Curried Chicken Salad Cones are definitely one of them. These are a welcome change from regular tea sandwiches, a way to add a lively twist to your next afternoon tea!
Makes about 16 cones.
|- 1 1/2 cups roasted shicken, shredded||- 1/2 cup mayo|
|- 1 Fuji apple, cored and diced fine||- 3 Tbsp curry powder|
|- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine||- salt and black pepper, to taste|
|- 3 small green onions, sliced thin||- 16 mini cones, homemade or store-bought|
|- 1 lemon, juiced|
|- soy wrappers, in spinach/green and turmeric/yellow, cutinto 9 equal squares per sheet|
1. Process the chicken in a food processor until it resembles crumbles.
2. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the rest of the filling ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
3. Place 1-2 squares of colored soy wrapper into each mini cone. Use a small cookie dough scoop to top each cone with a generous spoonful of the Curried Chicken Salad. Best enjoyed immediately.
Onigiri Shumai Dumplings are ideal as elegant bento box fare or for enjoying with your favorite Japanese tea as light tea meal. These beauties are somewhere in between Japanese and Chinese, lending the flavors of one culture with the culinary technique of another.
These onigiri, or Japanese rice balls, are made from sushi rice speckled with furikake. Think of furikake as savory confetti for rice. Among pre-made furikake, the wakame or radish leaf flavors are really delicious. I’ve even made homemade furikake with nori and green tea leaves before.
If you want to serve these as a more substantial meal, try tucking a small piece of meat or veggies inside each rice ball. Cubes of ham, a few peas or a small wedge of cheese all make tasty fillings.
After you’ve made the rice balls themselves, soy wrappers take these to the next level of beautiful. I like to change up the color of wrapper I use depending on what my dishes and tea wares look like, setting the stage for a visually rich and satisfying meal.
Makes 10-12 dumplings.
2 cups cooked sushi rice
2-3 Tablespoons of furikake, pre-made or homemade
3 soy wrappers, each cut into 4 squares (I used the orange variety from Yamamotoyama)
sriracha and soy sauce to serve
1. In a large bowl, gently fold the furikake in with the rice. The steam will help the flavors to bloom.
2. Measure out generous 2 Tbsp portions of the rice, then place in the middle of one of the wrappers. Use a few light dabs of water to help the wrapper stick to the sides of the rice ball. Lightly place pressure on the bottom of the rice ball to create a flat bottom.
3. Repeat the process until you get 12 dumplings. Top with sriracha to serve.