If you like wasabi, you probably also like to make your own sushi, at least of the non-sashimi, non-nigiri variety. Which is to say, you probably periodically whip together some simple maki, mostly made with vegetables and crab.

I do so in order to have an excuse to consume mind-blowing quantities of wasabi and gari. This combination is a double-edged blade guaranteed to slice through gloom, apathy, or other malaise with its super mood-elevating powers. It is the Go-Go Gojira of condiment combos.

I used to rely on wasabi tobiko from Trader Joe's to feed the wasabi monkey on my back. In addition to the conspicuous absence of coastline in Indiana, there are no Trader Joe's or Trader Joe analogues. So: no fish, no tobiko.

Having made way too many straight-up California rolls, a host of veggie rolls, and a few half-hearted passes at (cooked) shrimp nigiri, I decided that it was time to think out of the bento box and get back in touch with my primary objective: harnessing the power of wasabi and providing a culinary foil for fistfuls of gari. In this spirit I offer the following fillings for what would probably be half-translated from the Japanese into English as "Crazy American Girl Maki-Maki" or "Mania-No-Aware Maki":

Wasabi-pineapple guacamole

  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1 small tin crushed pineapple, half of contents
  • 1 substantial squoosh of wasabi (about half a tablespoon, sometimes more)

Sounds gross, tastes divine. Hot, sweet, sleek. Blend ingredients thoroughly, making a thick paste. Spread a thick layer evenly over the rice-covered nori (see writeup at maki). This is not the usual way of going about things, but it makes a lovely roll with a spiral of bright green pinwheeling through it. This roll in particular goes very nicely with the slightly sweet, piquant caramel flavor of ginger soy sauce, if you can find it.

Wasabi crab salad

The truth of the matter is that artificial crab tastes fine, but the texture is just weird sometimes. Circumvent funky processed texture and also additional steps of food preparation by making this salad.

Blenderize a package of "crab" until it is finely minced. Add mayonnaise (about a quarter cup) one tablespoon at a time, blenderizing between additions. (Yes, I know blenderize isn't really a word, but it's fun and I'm quite sure you know what I mean). Now add 1 T rice wine vinegar, 1 T of sesame seeds or gomasio, and a bunch of tiny squooshes of wasabi (half a tablespoon or more if you love the stuff). Blenderize again, not alot, should sound like this: VROOM. VROOM-VROOM. VROOOOOOM. VROOM!VROOM! And then it's done.

Spread evenly and roll, or lay down a thick line of it as per general maki-making instructions. This is also a very nice filling for temaki, which is even easier to make than maki and makes a lovely easy-to-eat food item to take to school or work. Don't forget the tupperware container of gari, though.

Wasabi cream cheese and smoked salmon

Mix 1 container soft cream cheese with several generous squooshes of wasabi (about 1 tablespoon). Cover nori with sushi rice, and then carefully spread a thin layer of wasabi cream cheese over the rice. Then carefully separate the paper-thin slices of smoked salmon from each other, and arrange in a layer over the cream cheese. You may need to trim and piece it together for optimal frugality and consistency. Roll as usual, and serve with fresh fruit. Makes an excellent Saturday brunch with strong green tea!