Aisha Ibrahim is Filipina; her partner, Samantha Beaird, a quarter Japanese. To put it another way, says Ibrahim, “We always have rice at home.” On days off from their respective jobs—Canlis’s new executive chef and research and development chef—they keep meals light and simple. Often that means combining that ever-present rice and another household staple. “I’m obsessed with nori,” says Ibrahim. “We buy those packages with hundreds of pieces.”
Once a week, at least, Ibrahim and Beaird find themselves setting up a DIY temaki bar, devising hand-held sushi rolls out of whatever’s available. Lightly pickled eggplant shows up frequently in these impromptu spreads, perhaps a portion of roast chicken retrieved from the freezer. All sorts of pickles from Uwajimaya share space with Beaird’s homemade kimchi. Each person devises her own combinations; Ibrahim admits she’s guilty of taking most of the eggplant. But mostly it’s a meal that comes together in less than 20 minutes and can be adjusted anywhere from light to hearty. Best of all, says Ibrahim, “it gives you the ability to use anything in your fridge.”
• Nori sheets
• Cooked rice, any amount, but at least half a cup
Any suitable fillings you happen to have around. For instance…
• Mushrooms, cooked down
• Roast chicken
• Eggplant, lightly pickled
• Sunflower sprouts
- Make sure you have rice on hand. Ibrahim and Beaird like steaming hot rice for this, but room temperature seasoned sushi rice works well too.
- Wave each sheet of nori over a super low flame on the stove until lightly toasted. If using larger sheets, break into quarters.
- Scan your refrigerator for anything that seems like a good filling—ideally a protein, lots of vegetables, and a bit of acid and crunch.
- Place a square of the toasted nori in your palm. Add a spoonful of rice.
- Assemble your preferred garnishes.
- Fold the nori over its contents like a hand roll or taco.
- Eat. Repeat.
Condiment Goals: Palapa
Ibrahim has family send her bottles of this savory-spicy condiment, a staple in the southern Philippines. The combo of ginger and chilies and native sakurab shallots is the base of all meals in the region, says Ibrahim. “I never thought it was that cool growing up, until I realized how lucky I was to actually have it.” Palapa fans in the U.S. make their own using scallions or ramps.
Condiment Reality: Trader Joe’s Chili Onion Crunch
“We’re all about condiments at home,” says Ibrahim. This impulse buy on a TJ’s shopping trip is now part of temaki night. “You just drizzle it over the rice.”