I have had this idea of fusing traditional sushi make techniques with old school American BBQ foods. I mentioned my ideas to my friends, Al Santa Catalina and Jeff Davis who own Tokyo Fro's Rocking Sushi Bar and AJ's Eatery and much to my surprise they thought I had a couple of good ideas. They even went so far as to invite me down to Tokyo Fro's to see what we could come up with. Combining BBQ with sushi is not an original idea. I've eaten sushi rolls, here in Sacramento, that contained BBQ items, but they really were more BBQ than sushi. But I wanted to go a different direction. I wanted the finished product to have a true fusion between Asian and American flavor profiles. To start with I wanted to take the actual sushi rice a different direction. Normally, sushi rice is seasoned with rice vinegar and sugar. My idea was to use a North Carolina vinegar based BBQ sauce instead. I picked George's Original Barbecue Sauce because it has a strong vinegar base but is sweetened with ketchup, sugar and apples. I thought this would be a great match up with the other ingredients we would find in the sushi restaurant.
With the help of Executive Sushi Chef Ranee Delacruz (pronounced Ronnie) was great to work with. Even though he had a sushi bar to take care of he was patient and friendly as I tried to convey my thoughts on what was to come. His knowledge of flavors helped us to come up with great sushi rolls. The don’t have names yet, but here they are.
This roll had sauted Shiitake mushrooms, garlic, onions and pastrami. Rolled with a soy wrapper and topped with some avocado. This roll rocked! No question this one has a lot of potential.
With this roll we attempted to mimic some of the flavors and textures of a pulled pork sandwich. I like cole slaw with my pulled pork so this roll included tsunemono. Tsunemono is a pickled cucumber and worked awesome with the pulled pork. This gave the roll a little crunch and added a little tartness to the bite. It was topped with fried shoestring potatoes.
Pastrami, wasabi, grilled asparagus and cream cheese! Wow what a combination. We tried all the rolls just as you see them and tried them with some of Chef Ranee’s signature Miso Garlic sauce mixed with a little BBQ Sauce. It was so good.
I can’t even begin to express how happy I was with the results. There’s still some additional tweaking to be done and I hope to get the chance to continue working on this project. Thanks to Jeff, Al and Ranee for a great evening.