These little ping-pong size rice tidbits rolled in sesame seeds with perky wasabi-ginger dipping sauce are perfect to pass around at a cocktail party.
You can make them up to two days ahead, and they’re fun to make, fun to eat, and very festive.
No seafood in these vegetarian delights!
2 cups uncooked sushi-style white rice
2 cups water
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup chopped cooked hijiki sea vegetable (optional)
2 carrots, minced
5 scallions, green part only, chopped fine
1/4 cup hulled black or white sesame seeds
Wasabi-Ginger Dipping Sauce
1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons canola or corn oil
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1. Make the sushi balls: thoroughly rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear, about 5 minutes. Let the rice drain for a minute or two.
2. In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine the rice and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat again to low and cook for 15 minutes more. Don’t open the lid at any point during the cooking. Take the pot off the heat, and let the rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. While the rice is cooking, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, salt, hijiki (if you’re using it), carrots, and scallions in a large nonreactive bowl.
4. Toast the sesame seeds to bring out their flavor: Place a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds, let them sit for 30 seconds, then begin to shake the pan periodically. If you are using white seeds, toast them until they are uniformly browned; if you have black seeds, toast then until they taste nutty and toasted. Transfer the seeds to a small place, and let them cool.
5. Turn the rice out into the bowl that contains the vinegar-scallion mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes to cool the rice. (At this point you can leave the rice to sit for 1 to 2 hours.) When the rice has cooled, from a ball from a large spoonful, then roll the ball in the sesame seeds to lightly coat it. Place the sushi ball on an oiled baking sheet. Continue in this fashion until the rice mixture is all used. Refrigerate the balls, well wrapped, for up to 2 days, but let them sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so before serving.
6. Make the sauce: In a food processor or blender, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Blend until the garlic and ginger are chopped fine. Serve the sauce with the sushi balls.
Makes about 16 large rice balls.