since as far back as I can remember, sushi has been a firm family favourite. I’ve discovered, for me, it’s more about the add-ons; pickled ginger, wasabi and salty soy sauce – yum. I’m certainly no sushi chef, as illustrated by my far from perfect rolls, but they still taste delicious and make a surprisingly easy and healthy dinner.
the sushi experts and traditionalists out there may not be happy when I say this, but give yourself some flexibility to stray from the rules and feel free to use any grain and fillings you want. Traditional sushi rice is sticky and easier to work with, but brown rice is starting to be offered more often and makes a healthier alternative to white. I went with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah, not quin-o-a), the protein-and fiber-rich Peruvian super-food that’s also gluten free.
When it comes to your fillings, get creative. Think about what you enjoy and what textures will work together, e.g. I love creamy avocado with crunchy cucumber, and asparagus and avocado works great too. I like using something sweet and sticky as it goes great with the salty soy and hot wasabi, so for this I honey roasted some carrots. I also used umeboshi plum, a very traditional Japanese salted and pickled plum. If you haven’t heard of umeboshi plums you can read more about them here. they are touted for their many medicinal properties including being a potent hangover cure!
A note on wasabi – I like the Clearspring powder version. you can make it fresh and it doesn’t contain any strange additives or colourings that some of the ready made tubes have. make sure to check the ingredients before you buy… you’d be surprised what’s in some of the tube varieties.
rainbow veggie sushi
nori (square sheets)
soy sauce (nama shoyu or tamari)
a selection of veg and fillings of your choice (e.g. avocado, cucumber, scallions, honey roasted carrots, sweet potato, umeboshi plums etc)
Quinoa (or grain of your choice)
1 cup of dry quinoa (which will give you about 3 cups cooked)
2 cups water
pinch of salt
1/3 cup of rice vinegar
2 teaspoons of agave
2 teaspoons of salt
– Rinse quinoa several times under water until the water is running clear and strain.
– Add your water (2 to 1), bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 covered.
– To make your sushi-su, combine vinegar, agave and salt in a bowl and set aside.
– While your quinoa is cooking prepare your vegetables. chop your cucumber and scallions into strips and aim for a consistent size for all your veg. If using asparagus you can blanch it lightly by placing in a small amount of boiling water for a couple of minutes until tender (but not too soft or mushy!)
– For honey roasted carrots, cut into batons or divide each carrot into a quarter or sixth (depending on size of carrot) lengthwise. I used about 3 medium carrots, drizzled with a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of honey (light agave would work too), salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss carrots so they are coated, pop them in a heated oven 200C/400F/Gas 6 on a baking tray and roast for about 25mins until golden, caramelised and tender.
– Transfer cooked quinoa into a bowl and once it has cooled a little, add your sushi-su and mix. season with more salt if needed. It should have a sweet vinegary flavour. Set aside to cool fully.
Assembling your sushi:
– Place a sheet of nori, shiny-side down, ideally on a bamboo mat. I actually didn’t have one but it will definitely make your life easier if you do. however its perfectly possible, though certainly not ‘correct’ to do it without. Have a small bowl of water nearby and wet your hands to stop the quinoa or rice from sticking to them. Gently spread some quinoa over the nori, don’t press to firmly just pat it down, leaving a good amount of space on the top and bottom.
– Arrange your vegetables being careful not to overfill (you will probably make this mistake once or twice, I know I have!).
– Wet your finger and rub it over the edge of nori furthest away from you, which will help seal your sushi roll. Gently lift the end of the mat (if using one) or the edge of the nori closest to you up and over the filling, gently pulling the mat and squeezing as you go. Continue rolling the mat forward to complete the roll and shape your hands around the mat to create a tight roll.
– Using a sharp knife cut your roll into pieces and arrange, serving with wasabi, soy sauce (tamari or nama shoyu) and pickled ginger.