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love is in the air (as are electromagnetic waves)

Recipe: plum blossom sushi roll

I walked up to the register and placed a pair of sunglasses and a Camelbak pack on the counter. I mustered the friendliest smile I could, as it had been a long and hot day. That counter felt so nice and cool on my hands that I was tempted to stretch my upper body across the surface and roll around on it, I was so flush from the sun and heat. The REI employee asked me what I was going to do this weekend, it was Memorial Day weekend after all. I was caught off guard. Holiday weekend? I knew it was a holiday weekend, but I didn’t actually have anything planned other than work. “I need to work this weekend,” I offered with another smile – this one more from embarrassment than trying to mask my exhaustion. Apparently, that was the wrong answer. He was mortified. “You can’t work! It’s going to be beautiful! It’s a long weekend – you should be drinking cold beers and kicking back!” I neither drink cold beers nor do I kick back. I opened my mouth to start explaining how I a) love what I do and b) live where people go on vacation, but he cut me off insisting that I promise I would have some fun this weekend. Yes, yes of course.

Friday was brutal for this mountain girl as I had an afternoon bridal shoot in Denver… and the high was 93°F. It didn’t even get to 90°F when I was shooting in Death Valley – this was the hottest I’ve experienced so far this year *gah*. It wasn’t a heat wave, it was a heat smackdown. As Erin deftly negotiated Denver’s Memorial Day weekend traffic and Manisha navigated the way to the botanical gardens, I was jerry-rigging a bouquet in the backseat. Flowers don’t lie. Those suckers wilted before I could fire off the first set of photos. Bummer.

oh, that’s sad

Luckily, Kitt had a nice bunch of peonies that Erin wrapped into a pretty bouquet while the hydrangeas were dying before our lenses. We lucked out: a giant cap of clouds hovered above us and our bride remained cool as a cucumber. At the end of the shoot, Manisha grinned and said, “You suffer for your work, girl!” I was sweating like a pig. 93°F is why I live in the Rockies and not on the Great Plains.

kitt with living flowers

a laughing erin walks kitt to the next bridge

wearing her mother’s wedding gown – very special

You can see more photos from the shoot on my photoblog. After three hours, we hugged Kitt good-bye and piled into Erin’s car to go roast in more Friday-afternoon-of-a-long-holiday-weekend-Denver-rush-hour-compounded-by-poorly-timed-construction traffic. I was hot, tired, dehydrated, sticky, smelly… I had goose poop and tree sap stuck between my sandals and my feet. Jeremy took me to happy hour so I could rehydrate with water in one hand and lemonade in the other. Boulder’s Pearl Street was hopping Friday evening.

another beautiful day in paradise boulder

And here we are at the end of May. I’m looking around wondering where the heck THAT month went. Our weather is finally stabilizing up here in the mountains such that it’s safe to put the deck furniture out without worry that another 4 inches of snow (or 12 for that matter) will blanket everything. I did not lie to the man at REI – we’ve been working all weekend. You know how some people winterize their house? We summerize ours. That entails putting ultraviolet-reflecting stickers on our windows to prevent bird crashes (especially the cute little hummingbirds), house maintenance, sanding and oiling our deck furniture, designing a system to keep us from incinerating on the deck during daylight hours, making multiple trips to the hardware store, and so on and so forth. Did I mention that I love my power sander? Well, I do.

while jeremy put the stickers up, three hummingbirds flew right up to him

kaweah supervises the progress

However you spent your weekend, I hope it involved some good food, great people, and happy memories. Boulder County Public Schools are out for summer and the neighbor’s trampoline has been getting non-stop use since Thursday afternoon. Instead of hearing children squealing and laughing in the evenings, we hear it all day. It’s awesome. Now that Nature has rubbed my face in summer, I’m over the initial shock. I am loathe to turn on the stove or the oven if I can avoid it on those hot days (however, it’s a dry heat), which is why sushi is so delightfully perfect.

start with masago (flying fish roe) scallops, avocado, and maguro (tuna)

mix up the scallops and masago with a little mayo

The last time I was at Sushi O Sushi in San Jose, California, the table next to us ordered a plum blossom sushi roll. I was taught long ago by my friend and dear sushi chef, Fumito, that rolls like rainbow roll or plum blossom roll are overrated and overpriced. I read the description on the menu and made a note to myself – it looked easy enough to make at home.

let’s make that scallop a little spicy

slicing maguro

The restaurant version uses crab in the center, but we opted for spicy scallop because we are scallop whores. The plum blossom roll is essentially an inverted sushi roll (rice on the outside) wrapped in slices of tuna. You can make that filling anything you want – just make it pretty.

rice on the other side, set the filling down

rolled in tuna

The tricky part is making sure you have enough tuna to completely wrap around the inverted roll or else it sort of ruins the effect. Don’t be afraid to patch up a few spaces here and there with extra pieces of tuna. It mostly sticks together, assuming you have fresh, good quality fish. I highly recommend 1) cutting the roll with a sharp knife dipped in water 2) keeping a sheet of plastic wrapped around the roll as you cut it and 3) trying to avoid crushing the roll as you cut it (you’ll see what I mean when you do it – let the blade do the work).

carefully slice the roll with a very sharp knife

arrange in a flower pattern

The roll was lovely. And yet… as we sat there eating it, we agreed that this was not something we felt we would necessarily make for ourselves again. It’s a beautiful appetizer for a small party and I’d definitely consider serving it to guests. For the two of us at home? I’ll stick with my Not So Special Roll.

plum blossom sushi

Plum Blossom Sushi Roll
[print recipe]

1 medium scallop (the non-water injected kind – those water-injected are gross anyway…)
1 tsp masago, flying fish roe (or tobiko if you can get it)
1/2 tsp mayonnaise
Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
1/4 lb. maguro (sashimi grade tuna)
1 sheet of nori (toasted seaweed)
1 cup sushi rice
1/4 avocado, sliced lengthwise into thirds

Prep the stuff! Place the scallop in a small bowl and coarsely chop it up with a spoon or a knife. Mix in the masago, mayonnaise, and if you are using it – a dash of Sriracha sauce. Mix well and set aside. Slice the maguro about 1/4 inch thick lengthwise (along the longest axis – you want the pieces to be as long as the circumference of the roll). The goal here is to achieve maximum coverage of the outside of the roll. Follow the linked recipe for sushi rice and make sure it is ready before you assemble.

Make the flower Lay a sheet of plastic wrap down on your work surface. Set the nori down and with wet hands, spread the rice across the top 3/5 of the sheet, gently pressing the rice down so it sticks. Turn the nori over so that the rice is touching the plastic. On the non-rice end of the nori, place the scallop mixture across in a thin line with about a half-inch of margin from the edge of the seaweed sheet. Lay the avocado slices alongside the scallop mixture. Roll the fillings up from the non-rice end and continue rolling all the way up. You can lay the plastic across the roll and use a bamboo mat to shape the roll and tighten it up. Remove the bamboo mat and plastic wrap. Set the plastic wrap on the work surface and arrange the tuna in a single layer across the plastic (about the length of the roll) making sure that it is large enough to cover the roll. Set the roll on top of the tuna. Using the plastic wrap, wrap the tuna around the roll completely. Use the bamboo mat to help you round it out. Remove the bamboo mat and (with the plastic still on) move the roll to a cutting board. Dip a very sharp knife in water and cut the roll in half, then into quarters, then into eighths. Remove the plastic. Arrange the pieces on a plate to resemble a flower blossom. Makes 1 roll.

31 nibbles at “love is in the air (as are electromagnetic waves)”

  1. Memoria says:

    Ah yes, it is Memorial Day in the states. Whatever you do on this day, I hope you are well and happy.

  2. betty says:

    wow your sushi is beautiful xx

  3. Rosa says:

    Nice sushi. Perfectly shaped and so appetizing.



  4. Wei-Wei says:

    Oh, how perfect! I’ve never seen sashimi substituted in for the nori in maki rolls, but if you think about it it’s sort of like combining sashimi sushi (the lump of rice with sashimi on top) with a maki roll – how yummy! Your sushi looks lovely. :)


  5. Nisrine@Dinners and Dreams says:

    Delicious sushi recipe. I love the bride pictures.

  6. Ronine says:

    May disappeared over here too but so did April, March and February…. I’m afraid 2010 might be one of those years that seems to be over even before they really started!
    I love the photo of Kitt and Erin – those ‘off-guard’ photos are often the most interesting ones from weddings. Congrats to Kitt – and her spouse-to-be :)

  7. TheKitchenWitch says:

    That’s a great shot of Kitt! Glad you didn’t completely melt in the afternoon heat. Sushi sounds perfect after a day like that.

  8. Phoo-D says:

    What a beautiful roll. I love the aesthetic of the tuna on the outside of the roll, just lovely. And I totally agree that May blew past like a freight train. Can’t believe it is June already.

  9. Caitlin says:

    I love sushi, and you just reminded me that it’s been too long since my last sushi-consumption event. As for Memorial Day weekend, it’s been full of… work. Same as you :) That’s okay, it’s gotten beastly hot here in Bakersfield, so I only venture out in the morning and evening.

  10. Chocolate and Toast says:

    So jealous! We’re still hovering in the 60’s here in the pacific NW, and hardly seeing the sun at all. We’re making lasagna for dinner. Lasagna! It’s winter food, yes? How I long for some sunshine and lemonade and sushi, all refreshing and cool and screaming of summer. Sigh.

  11. Judy says:

    Gorgeous sushi! I’ll have to looking for some fresh tuna at the local fish markets. I’ve been working all weekend, but am relaxing this evening with homemade sangria, grilled chicken, Greek potato salad, and fresh strawberry shortcake. Strawberry season is almost over. Have a good evening.

  12. Fiona says:

    Girl. That looks amazing. I know you’re all “meh,” but to me…

    We went to the zoo this weekend. Twice. This is life with a 2 year old.

    Sorry about the heat, but hey – you and I both know it could be worse. Think tidewater humidity!

  13. Ruth Ann says:

    Good thing you have Kaweah to inspect your progress. She is looks like such a wonderful dog.
    Your sushi is very beautiful. I love all of the colors.

  14. Mrs Ergül says:

    Jen, we have the heat here with the humidity. It is crazy! I turn into sweat on flesh in a matter of minutes scrubbing my pans in my tiny kitchen. oh it sucks. and it just seems to be able to get worse each passing year….

    kitt is a beautiful bride. how great to have good friends who are capable of doing her very own wedding shoot!

    By the way, every time I come across avocados and want to buy them, I’m stumped because I don’t know how to choose. Do you have a few tips to share on this?

  15. Marisa says:

    That is one charming looking plate of sushi!

  16. Kirsa says:

    this looks absolutely fabulous, I gotta make some and learn how to properly do sushi at home…

  17. jenjenk says:

    jen – that looks freaking fantastic!! You cut your sashimi with such precision!! I’m making this roll at my next get together!!!!

  18. Eileen says:


  19. Daniel @ The Food Addicts says:

    There is nothing like homemade sushi! Great looking rolls I can never get enough sushi.

  20. Erin Kirk says:

    This makes me want to CRY it looks so good! It’s a shame we can’t get the fresh fabulous sushi grade fish in Indiana! Just have to wait til we finally move out west!

  21. Kristen says:

    I bet the bride was so happy with the pictures… looks like you did an amazing job. And that sushi looks amazing too!

  22. Helene says:

    What a gorgeously happy bride! Making sushi should be on my next to accomplish in the kitchen. This one is gorgeous!

  23. Eat. Travel. Eat! says:

    Sure looks like a happy bride in the pictures on your photo blog! I’ve made sushi before but never this pretty. Guess it’s the rolling that I have to work on.

  24. joudie's Mood Food says:

    This looks like a dream. What an amazing post. I love sushi and anything to do with fish. I always make it but stick to the simple methods i know. I will defintiley try this next time….

  25. jenyu says:

    Thanks, everyone! We are all so excited for Kitt’s big day!! :)

    Mrs Ergul – It depends… if I need avocados right away, I look for those that yield to a little pressure. If I don’t need them right away, I will buy hard avocados and then store them in a paper bag together (helps them ripen) if I want to use them in 2 or so days. I leave them on the counter if I want to use them in 3 or more days.

    Helene – I think anything you touch in the kitchen becomes magically gorgeous anyway :)

  26. Livin Local says:

    What a beautiful work of edible art!

  27. Sushi « Margaret Decuir's Blog says:

    […] Use Real Butter: Plum Blossom Sushi Recipe Email Subscription […]

  28. Mrs Ergul says:

    Thanks for the tip!

  29. Sushi « Tofu and Chocolate says:

    […] Use Real Butter: Plum Blossom Sushi Recipe Leave a Comment Leave a Comment so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Click here to cancel reply. Line and paragraph breaks automatic, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <pre> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> […]

  30. Mad says:

    Do you use sushi grade scallops for your sushi? Not really sure if there is such a thing. Can i use the regular scallops they sell at the grocery stores? Thanks!

  31. jenyu says:

    Mad – well, I use the best scallops my fish monger offers. I think it’s important to get the freshest possible scallops (the big ones).

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