Oyster mushroom maki rolls

Every Saturday there is an organic market in Cape Town called the Oranjezicht City Farm Market. We go there as often as we can, stocking up on vegetables and fruits of the season as well as some of the most beautiful mushrooms our eyes have ever seen - including the beautiful pink oyster mushrooms used in these rolls.

They have a wonderfully delicate flavour, ready to be enhanced by whatever you with to cook it with. My favourite additions are simple - a bit of tamari, a bit of mirin, and sesame oil. Wonderful with noodles and rice alike!

We often sautee the oysters, julienne a variety of vegetables, and put the combination into wonderfully textured vegan maki rolls (as you might have heard, my husband loves anything and everything Japanese, including copious amounts of sushi rice each week).

As with any of my recipes - use the filling as more of a guideline and substitute the vegetables and mushrooms with whatever you have in your pantry. 


For the rice:

3 cups/555 gr of sushi rice

700 ml water

1 ribbon of kombu (optional)


For the sushi seasoning:

90 ml sushi rice vinegar (Mizkan works very well)

2 tbsp of sugar

2 tsp of salt


For the mushrooms:

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tbsp mirin

1 1/2 tbsp tamari

1/2 tbsp maple syrup

200 gr oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped


for the filling:

1 carrot, julienned

50 gr of purple cabbage, julienned

3-4 pieces of tenderstem broccolini (optional)

1 large avocado, thinly sliced



4 nori sheets, more if needed

black and white sesame seeds, for garnish

tamari or soy sauce, for dipping




Wash the rice in a sieve under cold water until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a pot with the water and soak it for 30 minutes. 

Put the pot, lid off, on a high heat until it starts to boil, stirring gently every 2-3 minutes with a wooden spoon. Once it starts boiling, cover the pot with a lid and turn the heat down to the lowest. Cook covered for 8-10 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed and rice grains fat shiny. Turn the heat off and place a towel over the top of the pot so that no steam escapes. Leave to steam for 15 minutes.

 While the rice is steaming, make the sushi seasoning. Heat all the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Be careful not to boil. Let cool once once. 

When the rice is ready, gently spoon it into a wide bowl (wood or plastic, not metal) with a wooden spoon/spatula and pour the sushi seasoning over it evenly. Fold the rice gently to incorporate the seasoning and cool the rice. 

For the mushrooms, combine the sesame oil, garlic, mirin, tamari and maple syrup in a bowl and add the chopped mushrooms. Let marinate for 5 minutes, then cook on a medium heat until soft and caramelised, 5-7 minutes. Leave aside.

To make the rolls, place a nori sheet on a bamboo rolling mat, shiny side on top. Cover the nori with rice, using wet hands, leaving 2 cm empty on the top.  I keep a bowl of cold water near as I roll to make the process easier. 

Arrange the vegetables and mushrooms in a line near the bottom of the sheet and roll up tightly, wetting the empty nori at the top so that it sticks together. Repeat with rest of nori sheets and vegetables, then cut the rolls into pieces and sprinkle sesame seeds over. Serve with tamari for dipping. 




Onigiri has quickly found it’s way into the hearts and kitchen of me and my other half. These little Japanese rice cakes can easily be eaten as a snack or as a full meal (you only need like two or three), and the filling options are endless. This time around I made them in the shape of a panda bear – because they are just toooo cute, am I right? I bet you could trick some kids into eating these as well! Stash some spinach inside. Hehehe. And the filling is our all time favourite – spicy shiitakes with a little bit of lime juice. Dip these into a bit of soy sauce and you’re in snacking heaven.

The real artist behind this humble yet amazing recipe is my dear K – I’m just the one who shaped the onigiri into cute bears. Also, I have a food blog. But he did all the homework and copious amounts of recipe testing for which he really deserves an applause for.

If the rice cakes don’t turn out perfect the first time around, don’t give up. It’s all about practice. It took K about 4 times to make the rice perfectly balanced in terms of sugar/salt/vinegar. And it is definitely worth it!



300 g Japanese sushi rice

430 ml cold water

3 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp white/light brown sugar

1 Tsp salt

2 medium sized shiitake mushrooms

1 tsp hot sauce

Squeeze of lime juice




1. Wash the rice 3-5 times until the water is almost completely clear. The best way to do this, I find, is by putting the rice in a large sieve and running water through it into a pot below. When the post is full, throw the dirty water out and start again. Once the water in the pot is pretty much clear (imagine filling the pot with clear water then putting a teaspoon of milk in it) then leave then rest the rice in the strainer for 30 minutes.

2. Put the washed rice in the pot you intend to cook it in and add the  water. Leave this to soak for a minimum of 30 minutes. 

3. Cover the saucepan bring it to the boil on a medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.

4. Turn the heat to the minimum and cook for another 12-13 minutes. Then remove from heat and rest for 10 minutes. Be careful not to remove the lid during the whole cooking process. 

5. Put your rice vinegar, sugar and salt into a small jar and mix it until everything is dissolved. This is now your complex rice vinegar mixture. Don’t be worried about putting a little too much vinegar in. I play it by eye, often adding about 1/2 Tbsp more vinegar to the mixture than what is stated above. You’ll get put off instantly if your finished rice cakes are under-seasoned.

6. After steaming the rice and making your complex vinegar, put the rice in a bowl while it’s still piping hot (a wooden bowl is best, but plastic will do too) and add the complex vinegar, using a wooden spoon to mix everything by turing and folding the rice. Be as precise and efficient with this step as possible. The rice must be mixed and folded while still hot so as to allow for any excess moisture to evaporate, as well as spreading the vinegar evenly.

7. To make the filling, finely chop the shiitakes and place them in a pan over medium heat with a bit of cooking oil. Fry until soft, then add the hot sauce (depending on how spicy you want it), a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice. Take off heat and place into a container.

8. Start to make your cakes. Ensure that your hands are wet before handling the rice. It’ll take a while to get used to the texture and how to mould Japanese rice but once you get it, you’ve got it. A medium handful of rice is about right. Press the rice together in your hands a couple of times to make it stick, then flatten out and put in the filling. Bring the edges together and shape into a ball, flattening it a bit for the final shape. You can now start shaping it into a panda bear!

9.To decorate (and provide an extra flavour/texture) cut the nori into shapes to be put onto the rice. If you want to make them like a panda then cut out shaped like the ones I made, but there are tons of other options as well. Enjoy these by dipping them into soy sauce or just by themselves!