Spicy Purple Asparagus Hand Rolls

Let’s dance. I call these my Happy Belly rolls because they make me want to dance! Sushi is one of my favorite foods. Tucson is known for delicious sushi and we enjoy avocado rolls weekly! When Francois and I travel to our summer home, it’s not as convenient to go out for sushi. This recipe was developed to satisfy my craving! Hand rolls are a perfect way to experience sushi. Individual sized rolls shaped like ice cream cones. What’s not to love? The are quick and easy to make and a tray of these rolls won’t last long! These are perfect for a light dinner with miso soup, edamame and seaweed salad. You can make the rice up to six hours ahead of time and leave at room temperature.

Spicy Purple Asparagus Hand Rolls

Make the rice – Rinse the sushi rice with cold water in a mesh colander. Place 1¼ cup rice, 1¼ cups of water in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let rest for 10 more minutes. Fluff the rice with a flat wooden spatula and let cool until lukewarm. Place in a medium glass bowl.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat to medium and simmer until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Do not boil.

Drizzle the vinegar mixture very slowly over the rice, gently mixing with a lat wooden spatula, until the rice cools to room temperature. 

Make the asparagus – Wash the asparagus and snap off the bottom woody parts. If the stems are thick, use a vegetable peeler to remove outer skin on the bottom few inches of each stalk. Fill a large pot with one inch of water. Bring the water to a boil. Put the asparagus in the wire basket over the boiling water and cover with a lid. Note – the bottom of the steamer basket should not be touching the water. Cook the asparagus over medium high heat, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the steamer with tongs and place in a large bowl filled with ice water  Let the asparagus cool down, then drain and let dry on a kitchen towel. When cool, reserve 12 spears for each hand roll and trim each stalk to 5” length. Coarsley chop the remaining asparagus into a small dice. Place in a food processor with the vegan mayo, Ranch Gordo “Stardust” and chopped scallions. Pulse until combined. Add a bit more vegan mayo, if necessary, for a coarse purée.

Make the hand rolls – Lay the nori sheet horizontal, texture side up, on a cutting board. Wet your hands and grab a ping pong sized ball of rice, about 2 tbsp. On the right hand side of the nori, flatten the rice into a square shape. Next, lay 1 spear of asparagus diagonally from the bottom left corner of the rice up at a 45˚ angle. Note – the tip of the asparagus should be at the top right corner of the rice/nori sheet. Top with 2 tbsp of spicy asparagus, then a small bunch of pea shoots and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. Pick up the bottom right corner the sheet of nori and roll to the left over the filling, pressing lightly to secure the filling. Continue rolling until you have a cone shape hand roll. Use a few grains of rice as glue to seal the hand roll. Continue with the remaining ingredients until all the ingredients are used. Serve with wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger.

makes 12 rolls


  • 1¼ cup sushi rice
  • 1¼ cups water
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt



  • one half- cut sheet of Yaki Nori, approximately 4” x 7”
  • 2 tbsp sushi rice
  • 2 tbsp spicy asparagus  (see above)
  • 1 asparagus spear, cut to 5”
  • a small bunch of pea shoots
  • ½ tsp toasted white sesame seeds


  • wasabi
  • low sodium soy sauce
  • pickled ginger