We’re gonna save the fancy descriptions and science-y talk on this one, because this dish speaks for itself. If you’re a sushi fan, you’ll love the flavors goin on here. Every element of savory, sweet, sea, earthy, and spicy conjoin to form a sensation that hits every node on your tastebuds. When that first bite hits your mouth, your eyes are persuaded to roll back into your head, your mouth involuntary ushers the words “oh my godddd,” and you immediately check your pulse to ensure this is, indeed, real life.
A quick word on unagi or eel sauce: despite the name, there’s no actual eel (or any animal products) in this common sushi-house condiment. Even more surprising, this sweet, thick, and deep sauce only contains three ingredients: mirin, soy sauce, and sugar. In order to save on time and costs, many sushi restaurants cut their sauce with corn starch and water in order to reach that thick, syrupy consistency quicker and lengthen the use of their expensive ingredients. However, the intense flavor and caramel-like texture suffer from this cheap treatment, so we’re keeping things as pure as possible.
As with most of our recipes, many items on this list, such as nori, mirin, and toasted sesame seeds, can be found in most Asian markets. While some American grocery stores carry these, they’re oftentimes knock-off products (aka not the real thing) or extremely overpriced. For example, a 17 oz bottle of Sriracha at our local oriental shop costs $1.29, but at Sprouts, the same exact thing costs $2.99! THAT’S MORE THAN DOUBLE THE PRICE. I know I sound like a coupon mom right now, but are English signs and trendy marketing really worth the mark-up cost of American markets? I think not.
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Nacho Normal Sushi
Loaded Crispy Sweet Potato Chips with Tempura Fried Seaweed, Sautéed Beef Crumbles, Sweet Eel Sauce, and Spicy Mayo (vegan)
A sweet potato tempura roll dissected and rearranged into the familiar form of nachos. Savory, spicy, ocean-y, and sweet all meet to form a cornucopia of tantalizing flavor.
Sweet Potato Chips
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, thinly sliced*
- 16 grams (2 tbsps) cake flour
- 15 grams (2 tbsps) white rice flour
- 3 oz (1/4 c + 2 tbsps) ice cold sparkling water
- 3/4 tsp VeganEgg powder
- 12 snack-sized sheets of roasted nori
- 1/2 gal refined oil, for frying
- 4 oz vegan beef (we used Beyond Burger, but Gardein Beefless Ground will work nicely as well)
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- white pepper
- 1/2 c mirin
- 1/2 c soy sauce
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/2 c vegan mayonnaise
- 4 tsps sriracha
- 3 thinly sliced scallions
- toasted sesame seeds
- Eel Sauce: Bring mirin, soy sauce, and sugar to a simmer in a small pot over medium heat, watching carefully as it can bubble up suddenly. As soon as it reaches a simmer, drop the heat to medium low to maintain slow, steady bubbling. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by half (3/4 cups); about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Spicy Mayo: Whisk together mayonnaise and sriracha in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and store in fridge until ready to use.
- Beef Crumbles: Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in sesame oil, crumbled up beef, a medium pinch of salt, and a few dashes of white pepper. Cook until lightly browned; about 5 minutes for Beyond Burger meat. Set aside.
- Seaweed Tempura: Add refined oil to a large dutch oven over high heat with a candy thermometer to monitor temperature.
- Once oil temperature reaches 350° F, whisk together cake flour, rice flour, and VeganEgg in a large bowl. Add in sparkling water and whisk until mostly smooth (a few remaining clumps of flour is okay). Note: the large bowl will make coating the nori easier.
- Once temperature reaches 375° F, dip a sheet of nori into tempura batter, allow excess to drain off, then dunk into fryer. Fry up to five at a time. As soon as the bubbling starts to cease (about 1 ½ minutes), transfer to a draining rack using a spider utensil. Repeat until all of the tempura is used. Note: try to maintain a temperature of 375° F throughout process.
- Tear tempura nori into small pieces and set aside for now.
- Sweet Potato Chips: Keeping oil at 375° F, fry the sweet potato slices in five or six total batches. Cook each batch – stirring and flipping frequently – until the bubbling slows down and they start to brown around the edges; about 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a draining rack, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and repeat for remaining batches.
- Assembling: Lay out sweet potatoes on a large plate or shallow bowl and top with beef crumbles, tempura seaweed, drizzle of eel sauce, drizzle of spicy mayo, and sprinkle of scallions and sesame seeds. Enjoy while fresh!
*You want the sweet potato slices to be a little bit thicker than potato chips. We simply use a sharp chef’s knife to do this, albeit you can also use a high quality mandoline to get the same effect.