Mad-Monkey Banana Sushi

Even though I live in a fabulous country filled to its borders with an amazing variety of delectable edibles, there are times I still like to eat dishes from some of the other countries I’ve visited over the last three decades. Asian cuisines are a long-time favorite and it’s not at all unusual to find a Thai green curry paste, a bottle of fermented fish sauce, a jar of papaya chutney, or a tin of wasabi on the shelves in my internationally flavored kitchen.

However, it’s pretty rare that any of my favorite Asian dishes are ever prepared in the “traditional” manner. There is always an element of fusion – mostly because the fresh ingredients available in Ecuador are markedly different to what I can get in a Thai or Vietnamese vegetable market. In the case of this sushi, I’ve gone full Mad-Monkey and added grilled ripe plantain bananas. Surprisingly good, the sweetness of the banana complements the salty flesh of the fresh dorado and king prawns. Sushi roll ingredients are only limited to imagination and availability. While I wouldn’t be caught dead adding fake crab meat to anything I put in my mouth, I’ll happily eat sushi made with freshly dug clams, wild fish from the local boats, calamari, octopus and various shellfish.

Before rolling it together with the fish and vegetables, I spread wasabi over the grilled banana. In the rolls pictured above, I used cucumber, avocado, carrot, green pepper and tomato. I also grilled the prawns in olive oil and garlic before adding them to the roll. There are masters of sushi who make magic with their wonderful combinations of seafood, vegetables and rice. I’m not one of them. My skills are limited to simple rolls, or norimaki. Even so, they’re totally divine! I believe Hanaya Yohei would approve.

Mad-Monkey Banana Sushi Recipe:

Nori paper* (*I bought these top three ingredients in Quito)
Sushi rice*
Rice vinegar*
Fresh dorado, albacora, wahoo or tuna
Fresh king prawns, calamari, octopus or clams
Garlic, crushed
Olive oil
Ripe plantain banana
Firm avocado
Firm tomato
Green pepper
Soy sauce
Pickled ginger

First, cook the rice and then add a splash of rice vinegar. Leave it to cool.

Then, thoroughly wash all the seafood in fresh water, and cut away all the blood and bone with a finely sharpened filleting knife, making sure there is only clean flesh remaining. Peel prawns, calamari and octopus, making sure to clean out all veins. Open and thoroughly rinse the clams.

In a frypan, heat the oil and garlic and saute a few minutes. Add the prawns, calamari and octopus toss until the flesh becomes opaque. (The rest of the seafood I use raw, you can grill it if you like).

Quarter the ripe plantain banana and grill, turning until it’s cooked through.

Peel all the remaining vegetables. Finely slice pieces from each vegetable, using a sharp paring knife, until you have one or two pieces for each sushi roll.

To assemble the sushi, lay out the nori paper on a bamboo mat (or a banana leaf if you don’t have one) and, with damp fingers, gently press some of the rice onto the paper. Press it out to three of the four edges, leaving a 1-2cm gap at one end.

Arrange the seafood (I usually limit it to one variety of seafood per roll) and add strips of vegetables. Add a strip of grilled banana on top. Spread a very thin layer of prepared wasabi over the banana.

Drip a few drops of water onto the bare edge of the nori paper and roll it in tightly from the opposite end toward the edge. The water will seal the roll. Repeat the process until you have enough sushi rolls. You can put them in the fridge if you like, but I never do because at my place they’ll be eaten almost immediately.

At this point, you can slice your rolls into portions with a very sharp knife. I usually cut mine into six pieces.  Pour some soy sauce into a small bowl. Add some wasabi to another bowl, and place some ginger into a third bowl. Serve your Mad-Monkey Banana Sushi and sit back to listen to the compliments.

Buen provecho!

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