The New Year and Sushi Bowls

a recent wedding cake

Happy New Year 2022! 

I look forward to the fresh start that January brings and have been enjoying the first few days of it.

Maybe what we like about January isn't the fresh start as much as the total lack of expectations that you will be doing anything social or indeed even leave your house (post-workday) after two months of having nothing but social engagements and being out of the house. You finally have time to tidy, and maintain the tidiness.

Reflecting on things now, I don't think that I folded a single load of clean laundry in the month of December. I washed and dried laundry, of course, I just never folded it. We could blame this on the fact that I was sick, or we could be honest and blame it on the fact that I loathe nothing quite so much as stopping to fold and put away clean laundry. Seems rude that laundry isn't content to be washed and dried and clean; it must also be pandered to. Bit too much for me, that. I am content (during times of Busy Schedules) to pluck what I want to wear from the ever-more-wrinkled stash in the laundry baskets and move on with my life. Frankly, I never give the clean laundry a second thought apart from the five minutes I am picking through the hamper, absolutely positive that my pink sweatshirt was here yesterday morning, or casting about for a fluffy, fresh towel when it's showering time. Possibly the TikTok therapists would tell me I have issues with object permanence. Possibly they would be correct.

Due to sickness (not The Big Sickness, but sustained other complaints), Andrew and I celebrated NYE in a quiet, at-home way, just the two of us. While a little bit disappointed that we couldn't join my family for our traditional snack-fest and count-down and groggy midnight congratulations, we mired ourselves in a game of Schitt's Creek Monopoly and enjoyed our fireplace, and were in bed by 10:30. It felt quite nearly-thirty of us but I don't know what you expect from stuffy-nosed people whose usual bedtime is 9 PM.

Despite the change in plans I wanted to make a dinner worthy of celebrating everything 2021 held for our life together, so I made shrimp tempura sushi bowls. I don't love to reckon with the morning-after smell of fried shrimp inside the house, but I did it for the sake of cheering us up. Also because we love crunchy shrimp tempura sushi, as only people who aren't sushi purists can love it. The act of frying things and I have an interesting relationship. I almost never fry, and when I do, I have to talk myself through the truth of the matter: that frying things isn't difficult; that it won't just randomly catch fire; that I won't spill a gallon of boiling oil on my bare feet; that I am a competent cook and have fried many things in my day.

My mom was (understandably, with so many small kids nearby) afraid of the hot oil involved in frying, and our semi-annual go at frying taco shells was always an event fraught with high stress. This is maybe the largest brand of childhood trauma I can claim, having taken "fear of hot oil" more to heart than the usual brand of common, subpar childhood experiences. Perhaps it had something to do with the DK books on Medieval Life I liked to look at: books that showed various catapults and battering rams and vats of hot oil being poured over walls onto unsuspecting, raiding peasantry.

Pre-Renaissance warfare aside, I am grown now and frying tempura shrimp like a champ. Yay for maturation. But I am not here to give instruction on making tempura shrimp. I was satisfied with the outcome of my troubles, but I feel there are a great many teachers more qualified to instruct on that topic than I. What I am here to do is to offer aid on the rest of the sushi bowl. See, with the turning of time into January, many of us are back to work, back to attentiveness to our nutrition, and back to subsisting on more than hoards of fancy cheese and nondescript chocolate and the occasional pickle or two. We reasonably feel that what we'd like to eat are some more vegetables, and also that we'd like our dinners to be easy and swift to the table.

One of my favorite solutions to this time-honored question of "what quick dinner will we have?" is a bowl of some sort: a carb, an array of veggies, a protein, a sauce. Entire restaurants are built on this genre of dinner and we love them. The options are endless as to flavor combinations, and Andrew and I agree that our favorite might be the sushi iteration. This isn't a recipe, as I don't think that recipes are necessarily that helpful in cases such as the ubiquitous "bowl". You may use whatever you have on hand, and the principle will still be the same, keeping in mind that loose "formula" of carb + veg + protein + yummy sauce. However, I know the people want suggestions, so I'll sketch out one option for you:

A Tasty "Sushi" Bowl:

serves 2

2-3 cups cooked rice, warm or cool

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced and tossed with salt and sesame oil

1 carrot, thinly sliced, shaved, or grated

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

scallions, chopped

nori, snipped into strips

sesame seeds

pickled ginger


cooked shrimp or other seafood (this is a good time to repurpose any leftover grilled salmon or other, similar meats)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon sriracha sauce

  1. Mix together the rice with rice vinegar. Divide between two plates or bowls.
  2. Top your bowls with desired veggies and shrimp or fish.
  3. Whisk together mayo and sriracha to make a spicy sauce. Drizzle this over entire bowl, then enjoy.

I'd like to be the first to say there's nothing terribly original about this concept. A quick google search lifts dozens of similar recipes as suggestions. But you're here and I'm here and it's a reliable standby for the days you think there's nothing in the fridge worth making dinner about. There are almost always enough odds and ends to make a sushi bowl worth your while, and it is a satisfying thing to sit down to eat. Besides, it is quick enough to mean - entirely hypothetically here - you might end up with enough time left to consider folding all that clean laundry.

You might. (I make no promises; it clearly has yet to motivate me.) Happy New Year, my friends. May we be full of health and gratitude and slightly less self-concern by January next. 


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