Crispy Rice Topped with Spicy Tuna
This recipe is inspired by the crispy rice and spicy tuna at Nobu. I love how savory the crispy rice bites are with the eel sauce and the avocado to make it just a little creamy while the butter lettuce gives it a little extra fresh note and crunch. The summer after college my roommates and I would always go to Nobu for drinks and appetizers when we felt we had something to celebrate. It was close to our apartment so it was way too easy to make up excuses to go!
1½ cups uncooked sushi rice
2 teaspoons mirin*
1 teaspoon white rice vinegar
½ teaspoon table salt
½ pound sushi grade tuna*
3 tablespoons Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise*
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1 green onion, minced
½ teaspoon hot sesame oil
Vegetable oil, for frying, as needed
1 large head butter lettuce
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced thin
3 tablespoons eel sauce*
Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water that runs out of the bottom is clear. This gets some of the starch out of the rice. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, 2 cups of water, mirin and rice vinegar. Cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the salt and fluff the rice with a fork.
Mince the tuna, The easiest way to do this is by using the pulse mode on a blender or food processor. In a medium bowl mix the tuna, mayonnaise and chili sauce. Stir in the green onions and hot sesame oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet to 350°. Wet your hands before working with the rice, it helps to keep the rice from sticking on your fingers. Scoop the rice into ¼ cup balls. Make sure the rice is packed tightly so it does not fall apart when it is fried. It helps to use a piece of cling wrap to mold it into a ball. Press the rice ball down so it is shaped like a tightly packed saucer.
Fry only a few pieces of rice at a time in the pan. Cook, rotating so that the rice is golden brown on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
Place each crispy rice on top of a leaf of butter lettuce (optional). Top each of the pieces of fried rice with a tablespoon size of the spicy tuna mixture. Top each crispy rice and spicy tuna with a slice of avocado, a slice of jalapeño and drizzle with eel sauce. Serve immediately.
*Specialty Japanese ingredients can be found at an Asian market, some gourmet markets or online. Can use regular mayonnaise with a ½ teaspoon of mirin as a substitute for Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise.
Gluten free option: All you celiacs out there can easily make this dish gluten free by skipping the crispy rice and substituting in butter lettuce to make little cups to hold the spicy tuna instead. Also substitute the eel sauce for a gluten free Tamari, found at Whole Foods. Sometimes I like to add the butter lettuce as well as the rice!