Making Maki and eating plants

So this week I’ve seen my boys turn 10 – double figures! We’ve celebrated and I’ve felt old, emotional and very proud. We’ve been to Futuroscope which was fab. Being dangled upside down in a giant robot hand and raised to dizzying heights in the Aerobar – happy days.

I’ve decided to take the plunge and go vegan….

There’s something about that word that makes people groan, roll their eyes & stop inviting you for dinner. I say this with experience having done a good stint as a vegan when we lived in Brighton. It was great, I could easily shop for every vegan alternative known to man. Vegan cafes and restaurants everywhere. Vegans everywhere!
Now however I live in the arse end of nowhere and there isn’t a great deal of understanding for us plant powered bods. I’ve witnessed Paul, my vegetarian other half attempt to eat with French friends. The older ladies scowl at me – how could I treat my man like this – no meat??? They sigh and say, don’t worry I’ll cook chicken. So as a girl that likes to make life difficult for myself I decide to go vegan.
I have my reasons though.
We know the meat industry is killing the planet.
We know animals suffer to end up on our plate.
We know the western diet is not a sustainable way of eating.
Then there’s vanity – here comes the shallow stuff……vegans are lighter, have younger looking skin and more energy – I’m in!
It does take planning and it does mean milk chocolate & ice-cream pig outs are a thing of the past. It also seems to take a surprising amount of explaining. There are those that are interested and those that feel concerned. There also those that just want to share that they think you’ve gone bonkers and are now a pain in the arse to feed. Hey ho.
A big turning point for me was the Forks over Knives documentary that looks at the health benefits of a plant based diet. It’s certainly food for thought and who doesn’t have a nice mix of heart disease or cancer in their family these days?

I’m going for it. We’ll see. I’m confident I won’t be doing myself any harm. As for a life without vegan alternatives I see that as a good thing. I hear there is a move towards real/slow/clean food. I’m joining that gang too!
So, to celebrate Toby & Nick’s birthday we decided maki was needed – lots of scrummy maki. Apart from the fact we all love it, it’s a great way of feeding vegans, veggies and animal eaters.

Sushi is a Japanese dish that includes vinegared rice. Maki means roll and Nori is black seaweed. There you go!

I fell in love with sushi in my early teens. My oh so cool uncle who lived in central London and rode a motorbike loved it and he took me to a sushi bar for lunch. I’ll never forget the tiny plates going around the carousel, chop sticks, green stuff that made your eyes water and the anxiety of not knowing what to do!

Well that was the 80’s/90’s. Now we’re making our own in down town Normandie!

Here’s how…..

Please note that there are no quantities given with this recipe.


Well, we made this whilst in the throws of preparing for a birthday tea and by eye. We did cook too much rice – it could have gone in the fridge. We made the chickens very happy instead. We did toast too many nori sheets which the kids loved munching. The left over fillings become an instant salad. Any left over rice vinegar mix will sit happily in the fridge.

Before you start though round up the following –

Nori sheets

Sushi or Thai rice

Fillings of your choice – veggies, fried tofu, seafood. See below for ideas

Rice vinegar




Soy Sauce

Pickled Ginger

and have a read through the method.



Start by trimming/burning all the hairs on your hands….

By just waving the nori sheets over a flame for a  second or 2 you will bring out the flavour. It’s a risk worth taking.




Nori sheets for us here in rural Normandie can be found (along with all the other sushi ingredients) in Asian shops in larger towns & cities, some of the larger supermarkets and if you’re lucky Noz.


Cook your rice according to the instructions. Set a timer if you’re easily distracted!

Beware sushi rice is not cheap but feel relieved to know that Thai rice is cheaper and works just as well.


Get chopping your fillings.

Nice thin slithers of things you like…. peppers, cucumber, carrot, finely chopped pickled ginger….whatever floats your boat. We tried adding some apple as we are surrounded by them at the moment – go crazy folks! Try a veg peeler on the peppers for fine slithers and use the green edges of the cucumber – it looks prettier!


Once the rice is cooked leave it to sit and prepare the vinegar.

Pour rice vinegar into a bowl and add sugar and salt. How much sugar and salt I hear you cry? Well, the honest answer is taste it – you’re looking for balance – the perfect balance. It will be strong, don’t freak out, remember you are adding this to very bland rice. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolves.


Stir the vinegar mix into the sticky rice and leave to cool. The rice should be sticky not swimmy so add slowly. You may not need it all.


Get all your bits ready to roll – literally.

Note we’re not using a rolling mat – not needed.


Ok, so, have a big bowl of tepid water and a clean tea towel near by – you will be rinsing your ricey fingers regularly. Take a nori sheet and lay it on a board so the lines run vertically away from you.

Get stuck in. Spread a nice line of rice along the bottom of the sheet. When it’s evenly spread rinse those pinkies.


Decide on your filling for that roll and push it into the rice – all neat and tight.


Start to roll it up.

Think tight & even! Use your thumbs to support the underside of the sheet and your index  fingers to keep it all tucked in and roll.


Remember to breath.


Roll it all the way up and leave your rolls edge down to sit for a while.

Now folks if you are not going to be eating these immediately cover them with cling film as they will dry out quickly.


Look at those bad boys – I mean the sushi.


Time to think about the accompaniments.

Soy sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger – mouth watering delights.

Soy sauce and pickled ginger – easy – out the bottle/jar and into small bowls.

Squeeze your wasabi out the tube and into a small bowl. Carefully thin it down by just adding a few drops of cold water at a time and stirring well. Your wasabi will go so much further, looks nicer and is easier to spoon.

Get cutting your rolls. The maki won’t sit nicely or look so profesh if you don’t trim the edges first. You may want to cut them off and munch them – chef’s privilege. Try and cut them evenly. A sharp knife for this is a must.


… voila.

Hal x

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