Very lazy temaki
Hand rolls a la gimbap
At some point this year, I discovered Mai Matsumoto’s Ichininmae Shokudo (Cafeteria for One). Her aesthetic is rustic and chic with ramen from Neon Genesis Evangelion countered with recipes for “no guilt” tofu pizza (I cannot judge: I am also vain). In one video that is focused on spring vegetables, she blanches greens, pickles daikon yellow with turmeric, and rolls these in sheets of nori along with some imitation crab. She spoons on some sesame oil and calls her creation gimbap.
Mai Matsumoto’s very cute rolls
I was so enchanted with her dainty creations that I blanched radish greens (seasoned with salt and sesame oil), pickled daikon (rice vinegar, sugar, and turmeric for color), and bought imitation crab. Together, Lisa and I lined our nori sheets with rice, added the fillings, and rolled. We were greatly taken with our handiwork, but the third eater (Petit Pot patron and purin enthusiast) cried foul, “Not gimbap!”
I’d say that gimbap can take on many forms, but I wavered here because I too err on the side of tradition and would be greatly disappointed by a pizza with a tofu base (as much as I adore tofu). I will flavor my purins like the rainbow, but they won’t deviate from the milk+egg construct. Maybe I’ll get bolder with my interpretations, but these easygoing hand rolls shouldn’t have to live up to the expectation of neat mosaics. I now call them temaki1, which is Japanese for anything that can be rolled loosely by hand in nori.
Unlike classically rolled gimbap and rolled maki, these temaki are messy and not suitable for a picnic. The good news is that they can be made quickly with whatever you have on hand and don’t require a large amount of rice as a structural anchor.
Now I always try to keep on hand:
Something pickled (usually kimchi made by me, because pickling is so soothing! Highly recommend!)
Imitation crab or any other fish cake (that I keep anyway for chawanmushi)
Blanched greens (seasoned with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt)
I would never, but you could also add mayo. With temaki, anything goes!
Drop the “te” (hand) and you have tighter rolls wrapped with a bamboo mat. Maki filled with natto is a 7-11 classic and my cousins used to (still?) love a maki filled with lettuce and mayo (salad maki). Japanese people will put mayo on anything that sits long enough.