MELBOURNE (WASHINGTON POST) - First there was latte art, then Cronuts, ramen burgers, sushi burritos, rainbow food and rolled ice cream. Now, the latest hyper-visual Frankenfood to take over your Instagram account: Sushi doughnuts.
"I'm aware that it's not the most practical way to eat sushi," says Sam Murphy, 24. The Melbourne-based vegan cookbook author says she invented the dish last summer, just playing around with a doughnut mould. But in the past week, it's gone viral in the United States, with several restaurants attempting the dish. Expect it to rapidly surpass the sushi burrito in Instagrammability.
There's Project Poke Co. in Fountain Valley, California, which tops them with salmon, cucumber and cabbage. A South Carolina restaurant, Oktopi, has a similar recipe. Combining two trends, California Sushi Donuts is a pop-up project that dyes the sushi rice rainbow colours.
Square Fish in Toronto calls it "Doshi". But before all of those places caught on, there was apparently Murphy, whose initial version of the dish was vegan."I take it as a bit of flattery," she said. "Of course, I can't expect everyone in the food world to credit me."
She makes hers by chilling three cups of cooked sushi rice, then pressing it firmly into a silicone doughnut mould that has been greased with coconut oil. She lets the rice set for a few minutes, and then carefully pops it out of the mould and decorates it with sliced avocado, wasabi, vegan mayonnaise, pickled ginger and other vegetables. Non-vegans typically top them with fish, and Project Poke Co. innovated further by presenting them on sheets of nori, which makes them easier to eat. The bright colours and multiple textures of the dish - not to mention the round shape - make it very appealing to photograph.
Sushi doughnuts are not really a big thing in Australia yet. But Murphy is not surprised that they took off in America first. Just look at all of the other silly, made-for-Instagram foods that preceded them.
"I call them fun foods," said Murphy, which is very generous of her, considering other people have called them "stupid" and "not food".
"I think those trends catch on with you guys well over there." They do. And whether you think that foods invented expressly for how pretty they look on Instagram are a fun way to express one's creativity or a cancer on social media, they are here to stay.
"Some of the things I created" - like edible glitter galaxy doughnuts - "are extremely outlandish and not the most practical. I like to be adventurous and create visually appealing food that also tastes good," she said.
Because, really, anything can be a doughnut when you think about it, right?
"I'm pretty sure you could turn lasagna into a doughnut," said Murphy. "It's just working with shapes. It's like art for me."
Except - hey now - isn't that also a bagel shape? And since sesame seeds and fish are also things that are typically found on bagels, why, oh why, didn't Murphy call this a sushi bagel?
"It's quite a controversial topic," said Murphy. "A lot of people are like, 'No, that's a bagel.'"
The official ruling? "Well, they're in doughnut moulds," she said.