Collard leaves behaving like nori? I was pleasantly surprised!
Growing up in the South I’ve become fond of a few standard staples, such as: tomatoes n’ cucumbers swimming in vinegary pools of pleasantries, banana puddin’ in my wife’s belly button, and reclaiming Darwinian fusions in food. So I’ll embrace my heritage in a way that will make most neighbors cringe: sushi!
This dish comes from an idea that I’ve held onto for some time: “why not combine vinegar-based Carolina barbecue with rice in a sushi delivery system?” My food muse gave an agreeable smile through her vodka-Kool-Aid-‘stache, whereas my wife was repulsed by the idea. With the wife and kids away house-sitting for the in-laws this week, I’ve lived what she’s termed a “semi-bachelor week.” She’s right, I’ve done all those things I don’t get to do: blast classic rawk, leave my socks on the couch, revisit my forsaken porn stash (no longer shall I eighty-six the pics of sixty-nine), play Madden, and watch Tosh.0. I ran with the opportunity to create these with immunity. And guess what? Truth is, I’m miserable without her—talking to an invisible muse makes a man lonely—and I can’t wait to recreate these high-maintenance morsels when she returns.
BBQ Chicken and Collard Green Sushi
We begin our journey with the creation of “slaw”—slices of sweet bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and cucumber—marinate the trinity in rice vinegar, garlic,and ginger. (Oh yeah, measurements are important: 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 tbsp ginger.)
Next, start the sushi rice (follow the instructions on the container).- I use 1 cup rice, 1 1/4 cup water, cover, bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cook for 20 min. Remove from heat, let stand for 10 min.
While the rice boils away, assemble the barbecue sauce, consisting of:
1 cup white vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp Sriracha (oh how I love thee)
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup apple juice (yeah, I stole my kids’ juice box)
Brown chicken tenderloins with blackened seasoning; shred chicken with a fork.
Place shredded chicken back on the stove-top, let it slow-dance with barbecue sauce, simmer on low, topless, for 10 minutes. Watch their love evaporate.
Now for the “nori”—collard leaves are great because they’re so large. Cut away the stems from the middle, put them in a big-o pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, then polar plunge ’em in ice water for 2 minutes, or until they get the shivers.
Pat the collards dry with a paper towel, and line up the usual suspects for layering.
Start with the widest end of the leaf facing you, and spread the sticky rice using a sushi paddle—“Yay!” exclaimed my food muse, “the paddle gets proper use instead of functioning like a wooden spoon!” Yes, it’s all about perspectives, dear.
Layer the Carolina chicken barbecue, then the slaw…
A sushi mat is beneficial here, not necessary, just nice to have around. Roll up the leaf, create 1 1/2 inch slices (wetting the blade between cuts helps), and eat those ugly end-pieces immediately.
Plate ’em up and serve with chow-chow. I also enjoy an artistic drizzle of Sriracha.
Libation: Trader Joe’s Green Tea Lemonade, a shot of vodka, topped with ginger ale, and served in a jar.
Tuneage: a combination of Crooked Finger’s Cracks in the Armor, Elephant Revival’s Break in the Clouds, and Trampled By Turtles Duluth