I’ve attempted to make sushi rolls on several occasions. I emphasize the word attempt. Every single time, I swear that I will NEVER, EVER make sushi rolls again. Never. This is one thing best left to professional sushi chefs. It never comes out the way I envision; the rolls never seem to stick together, they fall apart when sliced into individual pieces (dull knives are partially to blame; which I finally had sharpened, wow, what a difference) — inevitably resulting in massive amounts of frustration, along with lots of yelling and cursing. But, I really love nori (and other sea vegetables), and so from time to time, am lured back to the idea of making my own sushi rolls (maybe, just maybe, this time it will work).
However, I think I’ve found a suitable alternative. Sushi handrolls. To be honest, I don’t know that this is the proper way to make a handroll (I apologize in advance to the trained sushi chefs of the world.). Authentic or not, I’m still quite pleased with the results, even for a novice like myself. Since I don’t have access to the same high quality sushi-grade fish as sushi restaurants, I opted to cook (actually, hot-smoked) the salmon instead of using raw (so technically not sushi I suppose). Alternatively, you can pan-sear the salmon.
You can get creative and add all sorts of ingredients to your handrolls. Today, I used short-grain brown rice, asparagus, (onion) sprouts, avocado, basil leaves, toasted sesame seeds, and salmon. What do you like in your sushi rolls?
BTW, nori is the Japanese name for the edible species of the red alga (genus Porphyra). Won’t bore you with its health benefits, but let’s just say that nori is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with all sorts of good stuff (minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, you name it). Just make sure it’s from a good source, as they tend to absorb unwanted contaminants, including heavy metals. I like this brand, this brand, and this brand (to name a few).
Smoked Salmon Handrolls with Wakame Salad
short-grain brown rice (recipe below)
3/4 to 1 pound wild salmon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
untoasted nori sheets
Toasted sesame seeds
1 avocado, thinly sliced
sprouts (such as sunflower, onion, radish)
1 bunch of asparagus, preferably thinner stalks; snap off the fibrous ends, raw or quickly blanched
Season the salmon with sea salt and black pepper. I smoked the salmon in my stovetop smoker for about 12-14 minutes (with 1 1/2 tablespoons alder wood chips). Alternatively, you can saute the salmon in a hot pan with olive oil, about 3 1/2 minutes per side. Or, substitute with store-bought, hot-smoked salmon.
Take a sheet of nori and pass it over an open flame for a few seconds until lightly toasted. Fold the nori in half and tear along the crease. Take one of the halved sheets and lay it shiny side down. Moisten one hand with a little water and grab ~1/4 cup of rice, press the rice into the left hand side of the nori sheet. Spread out the rice ~1/4 inch thick, leaving a narrow margin around the edges. Press the rice with your index finger to make and indentation. Lay your filling (toasted sesame seeds, avocado slices, sprouts asparagus, salmon, basil leaves) in the indentation.
Lightly roll the bottom left corner on a diagonal, folding the nori tightly around the filling to form a cone. Use a little water to secure the nori seam. Serve with wasabi.
Short-Grain Brown Rice
2 cups short-grain brown rice
2 tablespoons rice wine-vinegar
sea salt to taste
Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Combine the rice and 5 cups of water in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 40-45 minutes until tender. Remove the pot from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, 10 minutes.
Transfer the rice to a wide non-metal bowl and sprinkle with vinegar and salt, tossing gently with a large spoon to combine. Cool the rice, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Wakame Salad with Miso-Ginger Dressing
serves 4 to 6
2 ounces wakame seaweed
1 small cucumber (such as Persian), thinly sliced
Miso-Ginger Dressing (recipe below)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
toasted sesame seeds
1 avocado, thinly sliced
Soak the wakame seaweed in warm water to cover, 5 minutes. Drain, then squeeze out the excess water. Chop into small pieces.
Toss the wakame and sliced cucumber with the miso-ginger dressing. Top with sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and avocado slices.
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon yellow miso
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 clove of garlic grated
1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Whisk all the ingredients together.