April 27, 2011 at 2:56 PM ET
Sushi typically involves vinegared rice, crisped seaweed and raw or cooked seafood. You can add wasabi or soy. But did you know you can add Doritos?
Call it thinking outside the roll: The folks behind My Maki, a new restaurant in New York City, are letting customers DIY their sushi. Craig Coggins and partner Raj Patel were inspired by Brazilian chain Koni, which specializes in customizable handrolls, to offer customized cut rolls (maki) that make it “easier and cleaner to eat at your desk at lunch hour.”
It may be harder to explain the "crazy" additions to your coworkers.
The fun-loving pair thought about snack foods they liked, and then played around with rolls, pairing traditional ingredients with non-traditional ones. The result? Take the Big Bird roll, with chicken, Japanese mayonnaise, Craisins and potato sticks. If that's not up your alley, fear not – this is customizable sushi, after all. Make your own!
So I did. Being a child of the '80s myself, I was drawn to the Doritos. I also threw some mango and fresh jalapeno in there, because, you know, a gal needs her fruits and vegetables.
Some would call my crunchy concoction sushi blasphemy. Purists often opt only for Edo-style nigiri sushi, raw fish layered on top of vinegared rice. This website proudly proclaims that "hot sauce and cream cheese and fried things do not belong in sushi. Seriously."
If you agree, then you are about to start seeing red. Because My Maki is just one of many to take a decidedly American approach to a Japanese tradition –- mixing it with comfort food to create a whole new fusion.
Blogger Dan Whalen, creator of The Food in My Beard, posted a concoction that makes every dorm room student’s drunken dream a reality: Kraft Macaroni and cheese rolls. With enough liquid to ensure ample stickiness, he lays the macaroni out on a sushi mat, tops it with taco meat and Sriracha sauce, rolls the mixture, and then freezes the rolled sushi for even cutting. When he is ready to serve, he cuts it and reheats it in the oven for a few minutes. Beefy, cheesy, spicy, carby –- and handheld. It’s like hamburger Helper, Tokyo-style.
In Los Angeles, roving food mobile the Jogasaki Truck takes traditional ingredients (tuna, barbecued eel and crab), wraps them in a hefty blanket of rice and then envelops the whole thing in either a flour tortilla or a soy wrapper.
As big as a burrito and with avocado and mayonnaise stuffed in there too, this is a sushi roll on steroids. It isn’t about the balance of ingredients – what sushi purists love – it's about feeling full after eating it, which Americans really love.
According to the entire Gringo Sushi Menu at Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi’s, with locations in Santa Rosa and Sacramento, Calif., sushi doesn’t even need to contain seafood.
As its name implies, the menu is made entirely of food that Americans might find appealing and unthreatening. Sea urchin and eel not up your alley? Try the Screaming Gobbler, made with roasted turkey, jalapenos, pepper jack, avocados, green onions, Sriracha mayonnaise wrapped in sushi rice and tapioca paper, instead of seaweed. More of a meat and potatoes kind of person? The Kemosabe roll features barbecued beef brisket, french fries and crispy onions within its rice exterior.
Then there's the deep fried sushi at KFC in Thailand. Can anything else really be said? Somewhere, Chef Yasuda is crying in pain and the Colonel is laughing in glee. And people are lining up to get a bite.
While you're at it, why not fast food-ify the whole thing? The famed Epic Meal Time guys have innovated rolls made of whole hamburgers, chicken nuggets, french fries, tacos and packets of sweet and sour Polynesian sauce, rolled into maki with bacon. Each has thousands of calories. Eaten all together, you're ingesting a whopping 11,816 calories. Hopefully you're not ingesting it.
The phenomenon has become so pervasive, even the Japanese are getting creative. There’s sushi that looks like President Obama’s face when it is sliced and even a sushi wedding cake. Yup, a company in Japan will be happy to deliver a tuna-salmon-uni cake to your reception, complete with figurines of the happy couple on top.
What's the craziest roll you've tried?