"Cabalen" is the kapampangan equivalent of "kabayan" — a term of affection for those who share your homeland. Both words become especially meaningful when you're living in one of the thinnest-spread corners of the Filipino diaspora, like chef and recipe contributor Raquel Landayan. Born in Lubao, Pampanga, she has spent most of the last 13 years in Reykjavík, Iceland, where she works as a sushi chef at the Hilton Hotel and spends her free time running an underground Filipino catering company with her husband. She invented this fusion dish at her day job and hopes to serve it at the restaurant she dreams of opening.
- 1 cup sushi rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 260 grams tocino, cooked, cut into matchsticks
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 1 small cucumber, seeds removed, cut into matchsticks
- 1 teaspoon chives, minced
- 4 sheets nori, cut in half crosswise
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup toasted garlic
- Equipment: sushi rolling mat
Wash and drain the rice, then cook with 1 cup water. When rice is cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and mix quickly with a wooden spoon or rice paddle. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Cover the sushi mat with plastic wrap. Place one nori sheet half on the plastic wrap, shiny side down. Lightly wet your hands and spread about 1/2 cup of rice on the nori. Sprinkle the rice with about 1 teaspoon sesame seeds.
Using the plastic wrap, flip the rice and nori so that the rice is against the mat and the nori is facing up. Place about 1/8 of the cucumber, tomato, and tocino in the center of the nori sheet.
Take hold of the bottom edge of the mat and roll it into a tight cylinder, using your fingers to push the fillings back into place. Pull away the mat and set aside. (Follow Youtube tutorials if this step is tricky.) Repeat until all of the rice is used. Slice each roll into 6 pieces.
Mince the remaining cucumber and tomato and use as garnish. Top with toasted garlic. Serve with soy sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.