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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

rice

The fall crop of rice is here from Lee’s One Fortune Farm! While rice is not commonly grown in the Southern Appalachian region, the Lees have tested and expanded their crop over the past few years. Throughout the fall and winter, they will have sweet sticky, brown, purple, and more varieties available at farmers tailgate markets. Find Lee’s One Fortune Farm at ASAP, Black Mountain, West Asheville, River Arts District, and East Asheville markets. 

This freshly harvested rice has a unique flavor and a satisfying stickiness, which makes it a great option for DIY farmers market sushi rolls. With plenty of seasonal produce available, you can even skip the raw fish, if that’s your preference. This is a fun project to get kids to helping out in the kitchen. 

To start, cook the rice. Chue Lee recommends a one-to-one ratio—one cup of water for one cup of rice. Stir together about a third of a cup of rice vinegar with one teaspoon of sugar and a half a teaspoon of salt. Add some of the mixture to the cooked rice and stir, gradually adding more until the rice is seasoned the way you want. Keep the rice covered with a towel and set aside.

Next, prepare your fillings. This could include julienned veggies like sweet or hot peppers, carrots, cabbage, radish, or jicama. Baby spinach, sunflower shoots, or microgreens would also be great. You can also add cooked ingredients like sweet potato or eggs. For a slightly sweeter take, try apple and Asian pear. 

Lay a sheet of nori seaweed wrap, available at Asian markets, on your work surface. A bamboo sushi mat lined with plastic wrap makes rolling easy, but you can also do this with a square of parchment or wax paper. Spread a layer of rice over the seaweed and gently press down with the back of a spoon. Line up several of your filling ingredients across the first third of the nori sheet. Starting at the end with the ingredients, roll the mat or paper, gently squeezing to seal the rice together, until you have a complete spiral. Remove the roll from the mat or paper and slice into bite-sized disks.

Top your sushi with sliced scallions, microgreens, sesame seeds, or other garnish, and serve with your preferred dipping sauce, such as soy sauce or spicy mayonnaise. You could even make homemade gari (picked young ginger) to serve alongside. Lee’s One Fortune as well as New Roots Market Garden (West and North Asheville markets) have young ginger now. 

At farmers markets now you’ll still find the last of the season’s tomatoes, eggplant, beans, and okra, as well as potatoes, winter squash, leafy greens, mushrooms, and much more. Markets are also stocked with farm-fresh eggs, cheese, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. There are more than 100 farmers tailgate markets throughout the Appalachian Grown region. Find them, as well as farms and other local food businesses, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

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