tempura batter mix*
4 extra large prawns, peeled, deveined
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 nori sheet
½ cup cooked sushi rice (see my guide on how to make sushi rice here)
2 tsp black sesame seeds, plus extra to decorate
1 firm, just ripe, avocado
salmon roe, to decorate
cucumber, to decorate
snow pea sprouts, to decorate
sriracha mayo sauce, to decorate
shichimi togarashi*, to serve
pickled ginger, to serve
soy sauce, to serve
wasabi, to serve (optional)
Prepare the tempura batter following packet directions. Use a sharp knife to make small cuts into the undersides of the prawns, then thread a toothpick through each prawn (these steps will prevent the prawns from curling while cooking). Fill a wok or saucepan to about one-third capacity with the oil. Heat over high heat. The oil is hot enough when a wooden spoon dipped into the oil forms little bubbles.
Working in batches, dip the prawns into the batter and then, holding the prawns by the tail, drag through the oil and release. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until just cooked. Transfer to a wire rack set over a tray.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on a bamboo mat. Place a piece of nori, shiny side down, on the mat. Use wetted hands to firmly and evenly spread 1/2 cup of the sushi rice over two-thirds of the nori. Scatter over sesame seeds. Quickly flip the nori sheet over, so the rice is facing down onto the bamboo. Cut off any excess nori sheet. Remove toothpicks from the prawns. Place the prawns, positioning them in a line, along the bottom of the nori sheet (be sure to leave a prawn tail hanging over the edge to be the dragon’s tail). Gently roll to enclose. Press your hands along the mat to create a firm and neat roll. Unwrap and transfer to a work surface.
Cut an avocado in half and remove the stone. Gently peel off the skin and discard. Place the avocado half, rounded side up, on a work surface. Use a very sharp knife to thinly slice crossways. Very gently, fan the slices out until they match the length of the sushi roll. Slide your knife under the avocado to transfer to the sushi, gently draping it over. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the avocado. Take your bamboo mat and place over the plastic, then gently but firmly press the avocado onto the rice. With the plastic still on, use a very sharp knife to cut the roll into 8 pieces, wiping the blade of the knife with a damp cloth between cuts. Remove and discard plastic wrap.
Arrange the sushi in a curved shape to create the body of the dragon. Add two salmon roe for the eyes, and add a black sesame seed to each roe for the pupils. For the dragon’s frill, cut the cucumber into thin strips and then fan out the strips to form a ‘frill’. Place the frill behind the first ‘dragon’s head’ piece. Cut a small ‘smile’ out of the cucumber and place onto the dragon’s head.
Add snow pea sprouts for ears. Squeeze small dots of sriracha mayo onto the avocado ‘scales’, then sprinkle over shichimi togarashi. Serve with pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi.
– You can find tempura batter mix in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets or from an Asian grocery store. Follow the packet instructions for mixing the batter (I use soda water instead of regular water). I used only half the packet (250g/9 oz).
– Shichimi togarashi is also known as ‘Japanese seven spice’. It’s (usually) a blend of chilli, citrus peel, sesame seeds, ginger and nori.