Breathe fire into your sushi creations with this artistic Dragon Sushi Roll recipe. Crunchy tempura shrimp and avocado are encased in a wrap of nori and sushi rice; the flavors enhanced with a layer of juicy Unagi filet, and fragrant Unagi sauce. The dragon is brought to life with just a few strategically positioned food elements, and a blaze of mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce along each side.
Firstly, cover your bamboo mat with a plastic zip-lock bag. This will enable you to compact your Unagi topped sushi roll later on, without the rice getting stuck in the rivets of the mat.
Lay a full sheet of Nori onto the covered bamboo mat, then moisten your hands with a little cold water to transfer the rice without it sticking. Spread 120g of cooked white sushi rice over half the surface area of your Nori sheet, leaving a 2.5 cm space at the end closest to you.
Flip the entire sheet over so that the rice covered side is face down. On the bare side, you will begin to add your filling. Arrange three battered tempura prawns side-by-side across the width of your Nori sheet, followed by a row of three avocado segments just below. Lightly drizzle your filling with Unagi sauce.
Begin rolling the Nori sheet around your filling by bring up the end closest to you with the bamboo mat. Curl this over the filling, using your fingers to gently compress as you go. Continue rolling until you reach the end of the Nori sheet. The moisture of the rice from the underside will help the sheet ends to adhere.
After defrosting the eel filet, briefly grill it for around five minutes to bring out the natural flavor and oils. Then cut the filet in half length ways with a sharp knife. You will only need one half of the filet for this recipe.
Place the sushi roll you prepared earlier onto your chopping board. Gently position the half eel filet on top of your sushi roll, allowing the pointed ‘tail’ end to overhang at one end.
Lay a piece of cling film over the Unagi topped sushi roll, using your fingers to gently shape it around the roll. Cover the entire roll with the sushi mat, then use your fingers to compress the top and sides so that the eel is firmly pressed into the rice. Leave the cling film in place for the next step, as this will help you to achieve cleaner cuts.
Moisten the blade of your knife with a little cold water. Position your knife approximately 3.5 cm from the flat end of the sushi roll (not the pointed tail end) and cut. Repeat until you have around 6-7 segments, plus a larger one at the tail end.
Before transferring the roll over to a plate, affix a small, 1 cm thick strip of Nori to each segment, starting from the second piece at the head end. This will help the Unagi and rice to stay in place.
With the flat of your knife, or your fingers, transfer the sushi roll segments onto a plate. If the plate isn’t big enough to arrange the dragon in a straight line, position the segments at a curve, allowing the tail segment to sit at an angle in line with the edge of the plate.
For the dragon’s eyes, simply push two octopus suction cups into the Unagi at the head end of the dragon.
To create the mane: cut a whole cucumber in half, then half it again lengthways. Chop off the end. Begin making wafer thin cuts along the length of the cucumber, continuing until the entire half comprises small wafer thin slices. Discard the two pieces from either side.
Position your knife at the widest point of the cucumber at a 45 degree angle, then cut downwards diagonally. Discard the end pieces. Peel away roughly half of the cucumber slices and fan them out in your hand with your fingers. Repeat with the remaining slices, then position each fan on either side of the dragon ‘head’, between the first and second segments. Slot two paprika slices in the same space so that they stand up behind the head.
For the whiskers, simply remove them from a deep fried shrimp head and push them into the Unagi on either side of the dragon’s face.
To create the illusion of fire on your plate, first create a zig-zag of white using garlic mayonnaise on either side of the dragon roll. Repeat using Sriracha sauce. Using the tip of a cocktail stick, pull the Sriracha sauce through the mayonnaise with swift, fine strokes until the two combine. You should end up with a flame-like effect on either side of the dragon roll.
To serve, simply arrange a handful of pickled ginger on one side of your plate alongside a generous squirt of Wasabi paste.