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daring cooks: dragon roll sushi

Recipe: dragon roll sushi

The Daring Cooks are making sushi this month! We have done quite a bit of sushi making (and more eating) here at urb so I was quite excited for the selection. Even with the familiarity, I was hard pressed for time to get this done. Because of that, it is with great sadness and yet relief that I am withdrawing from the Daring Cooks. This will be my last DC challenge.

daring cooks – one last cha cha cha!

I really have to thank the ladies of the DARING KITCHEN: beloved Lis of La Mia Cucina and sweet Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. These two fine women give and give and give to all of the Daring Cooks (and Bakers). I don’t know how they do it, but I admire them for their love and enthusiasm, and especially for their friendship. Thanks, you beautiful babes!

Here’s the official line: The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

And once again, I colored outside of the lines which is probably why I should be leaving the DCs… I didn’t use their sushi recipe, I used the one I always use because we had a very small window of time to get this done. But I still learned a new technique and the sushi totally rocked (because it always does). I decided to try my hand at tempura frying based on this recipe from Allison who does all things sushi-related.

i thought the egg and ice water looked neat before mixing

whisking the wet and dry ingredients together

I think the biggest barrier to making tempura for me has always been the mystery of how to do it. Allison’s recipe is SUPER easy to throw together and so the true hurdle in tempura is the frying. I hate frying, but the more I do it, the more I lose my dread of it. We decided to tempura fry some alba clamshell mushrooms, asparagus, and shrimp. I didn’t have any softshell crab on hand, but tempura shrimp in a roll is another favorite of mine.

ingredients including: alba mushrooms, masago (fish roe), quail eggs

the goods: maguro (tuna), large dry scallops, wild-caught gulf shrimp

The challenge required that we make three kinds of sushi: nigiri, maki, and dragon roll (a reverse maki with avocado). The only new thing for me was the dragon roll (avocado on the outside) so I decided to toss the tempura in for the extra challenge – because it’s all about learning something new, right?

slicing across the belly of each shrimp to keep it from curling

skewering the shrimp helps to keep it straight too

I think next time I tempura fry shrimp, I’ll use a glass instead of a bowl for the dipping because it will be easier to quickly coat the whole shrimp that way. I also think I used too little flour. I sort of sift my flour and think that I wind up using less flour (since it’s given in cups rather than in weight).

ready for the dip

coating in tempura batter

The shrimp came out nicely, but there wasn’t that lovely golden tempura fluffiness on it. Just a very thin shell of tempura. I added another 1/4 cup of flour to thicken it up and the asparagus seemed to do better with that batter.


stacking the ingredients: spicy scallop, masago, daikon sprouts, shrimp tempura, avocado

To see how I roll reverse maki, you can check out my not so special roll (yes, that is the name, but it rocks). Once the ensemble is tightly rolled up, I layered thin slices of avocado on the plastic wrap and set the roll on top. Then I carefully rolled it up again (plastic wrap is totally your friend on this one). After it is nice and rounded, keep the plastic over the roll and using a sharp (very sharp) knife, slice through the plastic to cut the roll.

layering the slices gives a pretty pattern

enter the dragon… roll! (rarrrrrrrrrrr!)

But the fun didn’t end there. For my nigiri, I had lovely maguro from my favorite team at the Boulder Whole Foods and I also made one of my favorite things to order at the sushi bar: masago with quail egg. Just for kicks, I also made a spicy scallop nigiri (scallop, mayonnaise, masago, and some sriracha).

filling masago

spicy scallop, masago with quail egg, and maguro (tuna) nigiri

Finally, for the regular maki, I loaded a roll (rice on the inside) with masago, spicy scallop, spicy tuna, and avocado. I had the asparagus tempura in there, but it was too fat, so… we ate them :) The roll was terrific even without the asparagus tempura!

we love the maki

the love affair with sushi is never-ending

Thanks to our hosts for the great challenge. Most of all, thanks to Lis and Ivonne and all of my lovely Daring Cooks. I’ll miss you guys, but it’s been great fun! xxoo

Dragon Roll Sushi
[print recipe]
for Daring Cooks details, you can find the recipe here

1 sheet toasted nori
1 cup prepared sushi rice (the method I use)
2-3 tbsps spicy scallop filling
2-3 tempura fried shrimp
3 slices of avocado (each slice 1/16th of a whole avocado)
1-2 tbsps masago (flying fish roe)
daikon sprouts
1 avocado, sliced thin

tempura shrimp
from Sushi Day
assorted items to tempura
1 cup ice cold water
1 large egg
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
cooking oil

Make the tempura: In a bowl, mix the water and the egg together. In another bowl, mix the flour and baking soda together. Stir dry mix into the wet mix until combined – lumps are okay. Place the batter in the refrigerator while preparing the items to tempura. For the shrimp, I peeled and deveined them, then made little cuts across the belly to keep the shrimp from curling during cooking. I actually skewered each shrimp on a medium bamboo skewer for frying to ensure straightness. Heat the oil to about 350°F. A drop of batter should sizzle and float to the top right away. Dip the ingredients in the batter, coating completely, and then fry until one side is golden brown and flip. Fry until golden and remove to paper towel to drain. Remove the skewers and serve.

Assemble the Dragon Roll: Working on a sheet of plastic wrap layered over a bamboo sushi mat, moistened your hands with water and gently distribute the rice over the bottom 3/4 of the nori. Flip the nori over so the rice is on the bottom and align your ingredients (all except the thin sliced avocado) on the non-rice part of the nori along the length of the sheet. Stack them neatly on top of one another. Roll the un-riced part of the nori over the ingredients, taking care to keep it tight and contained. When the nori has encased all of the ingredients, use the bamboo mat/plastic to help you continue rolling up the maki until it is cylindrical and the rice encases the entire outer layer of the maki. Set the maki aside and arrange the avocado slices across the plastic wrap long enough to cover the length of the maki. Place the roll on top of the avocado and use the plastic and bamboo mat to roll the maki, this time pressing the avocado onto the roll. Gently shape it to round out any corners. Squeeze from the ends inward a tad to keep fillings from falling out. Lay the plastic over the roll and with a sharp knife that has been dipped in water, slice the roll into 8 equal segments. It helps to clean the knife between cuttings. Remove the plastic and serve.

59 nibbles at “daring cooks: dragon roll sushi”

  1. Audax Artifex says:

    So sorry to hear you are leaving (I hope not for too long), at least you did a fabulous job on this last entry. Your sushi looks so beautiful and I bet was super tasty. And I will bookmark this post I want to make tempura for Xmas. Cheers from Audax in Australia. And farewell and so long from the Daring Cooks’.

  2. Amy I. says:

    SO gorgeous, Jen. Bummed to see you leave DC, but I hear you re: the time/creative constraints that can come along with “mandated” blogging. I always wondered how shrimp tempura stay so straight… now I know! I used the cheater Trader Joes frozen shrimp tempura this time, but now I’m itching to try it from scratch.

  3. Asha@FSK says:

    Beautiful.. all your sushis look soo gorgeous and perfect! and smart idea of layering the avocados and placing the roll on top. I struggled a bit doing it the other way.. haha! great going!

  4. courtney says:

    Beautiful Jen. I have thinking about making my own rolls lately and Cs and I enjoy them so. I am saving this . To bad about the Daring Cooks. I knew from the Get Go, that I would nt be able to that and the Bakers. Time is so little.

  5. wic says:

    Oh I can see the love for the sushi. your pictures are amazing. your sushi looks delicious.

  6. Jenny says:

    My mouth was watering as I was looking at your pictures – so much deliciousness! I really want to try to make tempura at home, so thanks for pointing me to that recipe. Your pictures are amazing and everything just looks perfect! Wonderful job!

  7. Christina says:

    Your sushi looks wonderful! What great combos.
    I totally understand your leaving…I am in fact considering it myself…just too much life sometimes!
    All the best!

  8. Fiona says:

    All day I kept seeing DB sushi on Foodgawker and thinking, “Is Jen going to do that? Can’t WAIT!” and here you are. Yay!

  9. Lauren says:

    Love the tempura! The sushi looks divine & I love your photos =D.

  10. dawn says:

    your skills are amazing. seriously.

  11. Silvia says:

    O sushi, how I love thee!!! Our local sushi place offers a maki with tempura shrimp inside and avocado on the outside as well. It’s called “Grinch-Maki” :) Amazing as usual Jen! Have a fabulous weekend!

  12. Y says:

    Whoa, super-pro, Jen! To think, I’ve paid good money before to eat sushi that doesn’t look half as tasty as yours!

  13. Rosa says:

    As usual you oudid yourself! Perfect and so beautiful!



  14. monkeyshines says:

    What a great post – I love how you captured the various techniques. Your tempura (and everything else!) looks delicious – sorry to hear you’re going to be leaving the Daring Cooks…

  15. Amy says:

    Your sushi looks awesome! It is as beautiful as what I get in the sushi bar! Sad to see you leave the DC.

  16. Kristin says:

    Your sushi is gorgeous!

  17. Frenchie says:

    I am so sad that you will no longer be part of DC, but I understand, I have had similar thoughts recently. Sometimes, it’s just too overwhelming and too rushed which just takes the fun out. Well, I applaud you for leaving with a smashing success. I look forward to keeping up with your blog nonetheless.

  18. Jessica Nunemaker says:

    That is so beautiful!

    I am going to tuck this post away and perhaps try my hand at this for hubs birthday. ;)

    Great photos. Love it!

  19. Andrea Meyers says:

    I know exactly what you mean about working it all in. Heck, it’s 9:42 pm on posting day and we are making sushi! I won’t do a post at this point, but at least wanted to try it. Your sushi came out gorgeous! I like the tempura, it looks so tempting.

  20. Bridget says:

    Based on some recent comments you’ve made, it sounds like this is a great decision for you. And hey, at least you went out making one of your favorite foods!

  21. Fran says:

    This looks … it looks … it’s … I can’t seem to put it into words. Your run-down of the Sushi extravaganza was beautiful, informative and well, it made me drool! I’ll be dreaming of sushi tonight.

  22. natalie says:

    omg, your sushi rolls look AMAZING!!! hubby and i are doing sushi tomorrow night and now i can’t stop thinking about SUSHI!!! totally doesn’t help that it’s nearly midnight and i’m starving again!!

  23. alice says:

    You rocked this challenge. Dragon Rolls are my favorite type of sushi!

  24. Tartelette says:

    Absolutely amazing Jen! And you made me hungry at 2am….darn it but hot dangI good happy sushi dreams!

  25. D. @ Outside Oslo says:

    Your photography–and your sushi, by the way–is beautiful!

  26. Sarah Galvin says:

    You did a beautiful job with your sushi. And also, congrats for getting it published on Foodgawker.

  27. Erushi says:

    Your post is just amazing. The tempura looks delicious, and I can imagine how much it must have added to the flavour of the sushi. The photography’s absolutely gorgeous, as is the plating, and all the sushi look like bite-sized jewels. I’m sorry to hear that you’re leaving the Daring Cooks, but I’ll definitely still be following your blog for all your other (very inspiring) posts.

  28. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Kick-ass as always, Jen! That asparagus is calling to me!

  29. Rose says:

    Beautiful as always Jen! I’m glad you got to do our challenge before you go ;) It’s a LOT of work doing the Daring Kitchen stuff when you have a million things in life going on! Everything looks delicious. We love quail egg with masago as well. Yum!

  30. Hailey says:

    What can’t you do, Jen! Seriously, I admire your mad skills to no end — photography and cooking. Thanks for always inspiring.

  31. Allie says:

    This tempted me to go out and get me some spicy suuushi last night. And wow – yeah – you’re good. I’ve never made sushi at home before, I really ought to try. I think what makes me nervous is the rolling part. I feel like I’m not very good at rolling evenly… or I worry my nori will break… I would just make nigiri because i like it better anyway, but I’m also nervous about finding the best salmon/tuna for sashimi and CUTTING it right! I feel like it takes expertise. But Maybe I will TRY.

  32. Jenn says:

    So sad to hear that this is going to be your last DC challenge!!! Your sushi looks great and I love that you made tempure too! I wish I had thought to try making tempura, it’s one of my favorite foods!

  33. Valérie says:

    Beautiful job, as always! The nigiri and rolls look splendid! I’ll miss seeing your DC challenges – although, if it leaves more time for your fabulous recipes, I won’t complain too much! Thanks for having hosted the 2nd (or was it the 3rd?) DC challenge and teaching us all how to make gyoza!

  34. Allie says:

    Hey, I also have a question regarding raw fish and raw eggs in general. I know you’re a big fan of them and I am too, but have you EVER become sick from eating raw fish or egg???

    I never have become sick, even after nights of packing in the sashimi, but the naysayers of all things raw love to hem and haw that eating too much sashimi or tasting batters with raw egg will make people sick.

  35. Allison Day says:

    Your sushi looks fantastic! I’m incredibly flattered that you used my tempura recipe (I got the recipe from my grandmother), and very happy to hear that you enjoyed it. Asparagus tempura is one of my favorites, we make it every time we tempura-fry anything. :)

  36. Peter says:

    Next time you should try avocado tempura. It’s crispy outside + melty inside is mind-blowingly awesome!

  37. Marija says:


    Unfortunately, I couldn’t find most of the ingredients here :(

  38. Amy says:

    Holy crap, that looks delicious! Mmmmm… now I want sushi for lunch….

  39. maybelles mom says:

    Well, i am torn, totally appreciate and empathize about leaving daring cooks but disappoint b/c I love seeing your DC entries.

  40. Mrs Ergül says:

    This is a great challenge albeit it makes me sad to see you leaving the DC group! I hope you will not leave the DB group! Please……… I need you to look up to :D xxoo

  41. Caitlin says:

    Ah, sushi… I have so much fun making it, but I’m jealous that you can source so many things where you are. Wisconsin does, um… white fish. Any kind of white fish you’d like but that’s it. *sigh* And now that I’m becoming less scared of frying, tempura does sound awesome.

  42. Winnie says:

    So so beautiful! Your photos are inspiring! Sorry you will be leaving the DC!

  43. March says:


    I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for several months now, ever since I stumbled on it while googling buttercream proportions I had temporarily forgotten. I cook for a living, and I really enjoy your enthusiasm and awesome photographs. Food photography is incredibly difficult to do well, as I have discovered countless times.

    A tip for tempura, or any deep-fried item, really. Always flour the item, then dip it in the batter. It helps the batter adhere better, and allows you to have that fluffy, thicker coating you’re going for without adding so much flour to the batter. Also, for tempura specifically, use cake flour if you have it, and mix only with your hand rather than a whisk. The consistency is only slightly more viscous than heavy cream when you hit it right. (I worked the tempura station at a busy place for a while. So much batter! Everywhere!)

    Thanks again for such an enjoyable blog. I really enjoy reading it.


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  45. Marisa says:

    You’ve outdone yourself – your sushi looks spectacular! I love the idea of including tempura in the maki rolls.

  46. Kathleen says:

    Honey your sushi totally ROCKS!!!! Dragon roll is one of my all time favs. I loved seeing how you did the tempura shrimp. I hope one day I get the nerve up to make this. My kids would think they’d died and gone to heaven!

  47. Adelina says:

    You are making me hungry, jealous and envious….ALL at once!!!
    For some reasons when I try to make sushi I don’t feel like eating them afterwards! Not sure why….it probably has to do with the fact that my rolls came out looking a bit messy and uhm….unattractive, to say the least!

    Thanks again for sharing and for posting your wonderful creation!

  48. Dawn says:

    This is my first time visiting your site, and I’m blown away. Your sushi looks amazing, and your photographs – gorgeous! Looking forward to poking around your blog. :)

    I have a suggestion for how to get the “fluffy” tempura shrimp like you see at a sushi bar. I worked in a traditional Japanese restaurant in college, years ago. Here’s what they did: Prep and batter the shrimp as you did for this post. Then, the moment the shrimp float to the top of the oil, dip your fingers in the batter bowl and – CAREFULLY! so the oil doesn’t spatter – working quickly, use your fingers to dribble/flick some batter drops onto the shrimp as it fries. These little dribbles of batter form fluffy crispies that attach to the shrimp and make it super crunchy. The more dribbles, the more crunch. YUM.

  49. Shirley says:

    Beautiful rolls! I feel you on the leaving. It’s a lot of work and another deadline!

  50. jenyu says:

    Thank you everyone, especially my fellow DCs! I’ll miss you guys, but it will be fun to follow along and watch what awesome new dishes you all create!

    Silvia – Grinch sushi? That is too cute! :)

    Allie – I’ve never become sick from eating raw fish or raw eggs, but I’m pretty careful about my sources too. That may have some bearing? When I was on chemo, I did avoid sushi and raw eggs at all costs since I was immuno-compromised.

    Allison – thank you so much for your recipe! And extra thanks to your grandma :)

    Mrs E – aw, hon – no matter what groups I’m a member of, I’ll always be here for you! xoxo

    Caitlin – I wonder that you might tempura some white fish and slap it in a roll with avocado and cucumber and such? Mmmm!

    March – thanks for that awesome tip!

    Dawn – thanks for that tip as well :) I love that I am getting hints from the pros!!

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  53. Tini says:

    Thanks for sharing your sushi idea. Any suggestion on where to get the fresh salmon, tuna?. We have Whole foods where we live in MD.

    Thanks again!


  54. jenyu says:

    Tini – you can try the Whole Foods seafood dept, but since you live in MD, you should have some decent access to fresh fish someplace, right? I don’t know where, but ask around :) Good luck.

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  57. Dawn says:

    OMG!!! theses look amazing..Now I want some….thanks for the recipe’s and instructions will definitely be trying to make my own soon..thanks again :)

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