Sushi is one of the most celebrated dishes in Japanese cuisine, both in Japan and around the world. Originally a pure and healthy food comprised of rice, nori, and unadulterated fish, many restaurants have taken sushi down an unhealthy path, complete with deep fried ingredients, heavy mayo based sauces, and an excess of unnecessary ingredients. This revamped version of the original brings sushi back into the healthy fold, with an extra boost from unexpected ingredients. Quinoa, a super grain once considered as valuable as gold for the Incas of South America, packs a seriously healthy punch. As one of the only non-animal sources of complete protein, quinoa includes all nine essential amino acids, along with ample amounts of fiber, iron, lysine, magnesium, and riboflavin. Quinoa makes for an easy rice substitution, and gives you so much more nutritional bang for your buck. The sweet potatoes included in this recipe give you a big boost of vitamin A and beta carotene, and the healthy fats in the avocado help your body absorb all the great nutrients. I suggest tamari rather than soy sauce because of its lower sodium content and absence of wheat, which bothers people with a gluten intolerance. It also has a smoother, richer flavor, and definitely merits a try. These rolls make for a perfect simple meal or a great option for a dinner party. Just set out the components, and let everyone build their own rolls. They’re also a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables and try out new flavors.
You can now easily buy quinoa in Japan in regular supermarkets. It’s sold under the name キヌア.
This recipe makes two rolls, but can easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many people you’re feeding.
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (cooked per package instructions)
- 1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 2 nori wrappers
- 1/2 a small sweet potato, cooked, and sliced into thin strips
- 1/2 a small ripe avocado, peeled, and sliced into thin strips
- 1/2 a small cucumber, sliced into thin strips
- 1 scallion, white and green parts, sliced into thin strips
- 4 tablespoons tamari or liquid aminos
- Pickled ginger and wasabi paste, to serve
- Optional additions: sprouts, carrots, wakami seaweed, bell peppers, tofu, miso paste, dulse flakes, fish eggs, or whatever fresh fish you enjoy.
- Assemble all your prepared ingredients so you can build your rolls easily and quickly.
- In a bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, brown rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. All the liquid should absorb.
- If you have a bamboo rolling mat, lay the nori wrapper shiny side down and assemble your roll there. If you don’t have a rolling mat, just place your wrapper on a clean, dry counter top. Add the quinoa sparingly to the wrapper, covering the 2/3 closest to you, leaving 1/3 uncovered.
- In a thin, straight line, add all of your fillings, keeping them evenly distributed along the roll. Be careful not to overstuff the roll or you won’t be able to seal it.
- Carefully lift the side of the wrapper closest to you, and wrap it tightly around the filling. Use your bamboo mat if you have it, and press and roll until you reach the end of the wrapper. Wet your hands lightly with water, and use that to gently seal the wrapper around the roll.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the roll into bite size pieces, using a sawing motion so as not to crush the roll.
- Serve with the tamari, ginger, and wasabi.