Pom-Pom Sushi

Makes 36 pieces


For Pom-Poms

  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • garnishments of choice (36 pieces)
  • wasabi paste (optional)

For Sushi Rice

  • 5 cups sushi rice or Japanese short-grain white rice (japonica)
  • 5 cups cold water
  • 2" strip of kombu, wiped clean with a damp cloth
  • scant (just barely reaching) 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp + 1 tsp salt
  • 1" piece of kombu, wiped clean with damp cloth

Suggested Garnishes

  • In-The-Pink Pickles (Pickled Radicchio)
  • Soy-Stewed Shiitake Mushrooms
  • avocado

For In-The-Pink Pickles (makes 12 pieces)

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 large radicchio leaves
  • 2 cups water

For Soy-Stewed Shiitake Mushrooms (makes 12 pieces)

  • 3 large, dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1¼ cups water
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • scant (just barely reaching) 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp soy sauce

For Avocado Garnish (makes 12 pieces)

  • 1 avocado
  • juice of ½ lemon

Serving Suggestions

  • wasabi paste
  • soy sauce


Make Sushi Rice

  1. Start by making kombu dashi broth. Add cold water and kombu to a medium-sized pot
  2. Bring just to a boil, remove kombu and let dashi broth cool to room temperature
  3. Next, prep the rice by washing it in a fine-mesh strainer under cool running water 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Drain the water
  4. Add rice to the bowl of a rice cooker
  5. Add kombu dashi broth, and choose the "sushi rice/regular" setting (may vary according to rice cooker)
  6. Once the rice is finished, leave in rice cooker to warm until you are ready to add the vinegar seasoning
  7. To make the vinegar seasoning, combine rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, mirin and kombu in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat
  8. Wet your wooden sushi rice bowl and paddle to prevent the rice from sticking
  9. Remove the bowl of rice from the rice cooker and invert into the center of your sushi rice bowl
  10. Break up rice with wooden spoon, and begin to pour the hot rice seasoning over the spoon to disperse it evenly over the rice
  11. Toss the rice to coat it evenly with the seasoning, using a sideways swiping motion with the wooden paddle
  12. Spread the rice into an even layer in the bowl, and let it sit 5 minutes
  13. Transfer rice to a container or bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then use immediately

Make In-The-Pink Pickles (Pickled Radicchio)

  1. In a saucepan, make sweet and sour sauce by adding sugar, rice vinegar and kosher salt. Heat over medium and stir, just until sugar is dissolved
  2. Let the mixture cool, then transfer into a glass jar
  3. In the same pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add radicchio, stir to submerge the leaves, then remove the pot from heat. Let leaves sit in hot water for 20 seconds, then remove leaves from water (the color will have faded)
  4. Place radicchio in cooled liquid in jar and push down to submerge. Cover and let marinate at least 30 minutes, but no more than 3 days
  5. Remove radicchio from sweet and sour liquid and place on paper towel to blot of excess moisture
  6. Cut each leaf in thirds, creating 12 pieces to top your pom-poms

Make Soy-Stewed Shiitake Mushrooms

  1. Soak mushroom caps in 1¼ cups water until soft and plump (at least 1 hour). Drain, but reserve soaking liquid
  2. Slice each cap into quarters (should make 12 pieces) and re-soak pieces in strained liquid for an additional 10 minutes. Drain again, and pour liquid (there should be about 1 cup left) in a small saucepan
  3. Add sake and bring to a simmer. Add mushrooms. Cut a round of parchment paper that will fit right inside the pan to rest atop the liquid and keep the mushrooms submerged
  4. Cook 7-8 minutes at a gentle boil. Remove parchment and skim froth from the top with a fine-mesh strainer
  5. Add sugar, re-cover with parchment round, and simmer 5 more minutes
  6. Remove parchment round and cook 2 minutes (the mushrooms should be glazed). Remove from heat and allow to cool

Make Avocado Topping

  1. Cut avocado in half, lengthwise. Remove pit. Cut into 12 lengthwise strips and peel each strip
  2. Slice each strip of avocado into thin slices, fanning to overlap. Douse or paint each with lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until use (it is best to do this immediately before assembling pom-poms)

Assemble Pom-Poms

  1. Cover a sheet pan or large cutting board with a large piece of plastic wrap
  2. Place pom-pom toppings down on plastic wrap, arranged about 3 inches apart on all sides
  3. Divide sushi rice into 36 small nuggets, rolling into balls with the palms of your hands. Place one atop each pom-pom topping
  4. With scissors, carefully cut plastic wrap between pom-poms, creating individual squares of plastic wrap per pom-pom, to separate pieces
  5. Gather opposite corners of plastic wrap, and bring up and around each pom-pom, twisting to compact rice and form nuggets into perfect balls. Chill in plastic wrap until unwrapping and serving
  6. When serving, unwrap each ball and serve, topping-side-up. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi on side, if desired