Sushi Caterpillar Roll

Sushi Caterpillar Roll,

A Caterpillar Roll is an "inside out roll," a type of sushi with the rice on the outside, nori on the inside. This one also features thin-sliced avocado on the outside for the "creature" affect.

Traditionally, the caterpillars are filled with strips of cucumber and unagi (spicy roasted eel) but you can substitute any fish or seafood and crunchy vegetable you like. (Sushi-grade ahi tuna or smoked salmon is incredible.) Or go vegetarian with fried tofu.

Besides the ingredients you'll need a bamboo sushi mat for rolling and shaping the rolls, some plastic wrap, and a very sharp knife to make this recipe.

Caterpillar Roll Recipe

This recipe makes 4 caterpillars, 24 sushi rolls.

4 sheets sushi nori 
2 cups warm cooked sushi rice
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, trimmed and julienned
6 ounces unagi, cut into 1/4-inch strips 
2 large ripe avocados

Garnishes, optional:

  • Unagi sauce or teriyaki sauce to drizzle over or under the caterpillars.
  • Sprouts or blanched carrot strips for the antennae.
  • Peppercorns or salmon roe for the eyes. (Get creative.)
  • Wasabi and pickled ginger on the side.

Prepare the Nori
Line both sides of your bamboo mat with plastic wrap or slip it into a large zip-lock bag, leaving a corner open for ventilation. 

Place 1 sheet of nori on your sushi mat, lining up a long edge of nori with the bottom edge of the mat. Dampen your hands and gently spread a handful of sushi rice, about 1/2 cup, over the entire surface of the nori. Press it gently but don't smoosh it; you want the rice intact. Turn the nori over on the mat, rice down, trying not to worry that the rice will fall off; it doesn't.

Fill and Roll
Arrange the strips of cucumber and unagi down the length of the nori, bottom quarter only. Now roll. Using your fingers to hold the filling in, tuck your thumbs under the mat, bring it up and over, using the mat to shape and tighten the roll.  Gently roll and squeeze, roll and squeeze until rice meets rice, keeping the leading edge of the mat out in front. Don't roll the mat into the sushi. (If you're new to the technique, here's a good video tutorial for rolling sushi.)

Apply the Avocado
Cut an avocado in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Peel and slice one half very thinly. Arrange overlapping slices of avocado over the length of the roll. (There's a shortcut for that in this video that only takes a little practice. Skip to 3 minutes in.) Now it's a caterpillar. 

Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the caterpillar. With a sharp knife, cut the caterpillar in half with one long stroke, no pressing, no sawing. Cut the halves in thirds the same way, making 6 rolls. Remove the plastic wrap. Arrange the rolls on a platter as shown, garnish and attach eyes and antennae.

Repeat the same procedure for the other 3 caterpillars.

  1. Notes: Don't worry about leftover nori; it makes a wonderful low-cal snack. Brush the nori with olive oil and a little wasabi, if you like it hot, sprinkle with salt and bake in a 250° oven for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Return to Appetizers for more like the Caterpillar Roll 

How to Eat Sushi

More fun food: 

Black Olive Penguins 

Dirt Cake and Sand Cake 

Armadillo Eggs

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