I’m not sure when sushi became a convenience food, with little pop up shops dotted through shopping centers, continuous conveyer belts lined with miniaturised plates of all the differing manifestations of sushi, but I’m so glad they have.
In an attempt to make lunch boxes healthier, grab out of the fridge convenience food and the ultimate portable picnic food I have also embraced the art of making sushi maki rolls at home.
One of the most amazing things about the sushi maki roll is it’s ability to change. Restricted only by the ingredients you have on hand and your ideas.
Today salmon was marinated for a minimum of an hour to infuse some flavour before pan frying. Quinoa was purposefully cooked with the intention of replacing the sushi rice, boosting both protein and nutritional value. Lastly a variety of colourful vegetables were prepped in julienne (fine matchsticks), finely grated and cut into ribbons adding flavour, freshness and nutrients.
Often our sushi is simply another way to packaging up leftovers. Stirfry is a pretty common dinner in our home and lately I have been making more than required with the leftover being rolled up in the sushi paper to make delicious kitchen hacked maki lunches for the next day. With very little effort “deliberate” leftovers have an amazing and delicious transformation.
Our sushi is always accompanied by the tradition soy sauce (mine is gluten free available at some supermarkets) although a gift of amazing chilli’s from my neighbour, an abundance of herbs and some kombucha quietly sitting in the fridge, inspired a probiotic brimmed Thai dipping sauce.
The dipping sauce had that quintessential Thai sweet/sour flavour balance, a slight chilli heat and a heavy herb influence. The zingy freshness paired perfectly with the crisp freshness of the sushi. For a dipping sauce to carry through a dish you want it to be slightly over flavoursome, as it always looses intensity once combined with your main. Using Kombucha, which is a Japanese fermented tea beverage as part of a dipping sauce may at first sound a little strange but, kombucha has a background flavour of a not so harsh apple cider vinegar. Vinegar of all sorts are often the base for many salad dressings, vinaigrette, and sauces, making the notion of using kombucha not so radical after all.
If you have never made your own sushi, you should try, there is something really playful and creative about layering the textures and colours. And if you don’t have a a sushi rolling mat I’ve also successfully used a piece of baking (silicone) paper. If like my mum you have an aversion to seaweed (it’s a thyroid thing?) you can replace it with rice paper. The texture is a little different but no less tasty.
And like I said, the perfect way to repackage your leftovers. I think some leftover indian curry chicken would be wonderful, with the remaining curry sauce as the dipper. It is this versatility that never has me without a packet of sushi paper in the fridge.
Marinated Salmon, Quinoa and Vegetable Maki Roll
1 salmon fillet
3 tablspoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 cup white quinoa
1/2 carrot in fine matchstick
1/2 red capsicum in fine matchstick
1 zucchini in ribbons (with vegetable peeler)
1/2 Ripe Avocado in slices
1 small beetroot finely grated
Thai Kombucha Dipping Sauce
1 small red chilli
2 sprigs mint
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/4 bunch corriander
1 tbsp Kombucha
1 tsp Gluten free Soy Sauce
1 tsp Lime juice
In a zip lock bag big enough for your salmon, add the salmon fillet, olive oil, garlic and ginger.
Close the bag squeezing out all the air as you do it up to create a vacuum . Place in the fridge and allow to marinate for 1 – 6 hours.
Meanwhile cover the quinoa with water and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Then drain and rinse.
Place into a saucepan with 1 1/3 cup of water and bring to a slow boil. Then reduce temperature to low, cover with a lid and leave to absorb almost all the water (approx 10 minutes)
Remove lid, remove from heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes, to finish absorbing the water and to cool slightly.
Turn out onto a plate and spread to an even layer and allow to cool completely.
Once the salmon is marinated remove from the bag and discard the ginger and garli.
Bring a nonstick frying pan to medium heat and all the salmon skin side down. Ther eis no need to add any olive oil to the pan as the salmon is already well coated.
Cook the salmon gently until the salmon is just over half cooked. (indicated by a change in colour in the fish and the protein and fat congealing on the sides).
Once just over half cooked, flip the salmon over and remove the pan from the heat. The residual heat will carry on cooking the salmon but will ensure that it is not overcooked. The salmon is cooked when it eaasily flakes to the touch but is still moist with a slight bounce.
Allow to cool and flake into big-ish pieces.
Prep you vegetables. Get your sushi paper ready and your sushi mat (or baking paper).
To make the Maki rolls, place the sushi paper shiny side down on the mat. Add enough quinoa to evenly cover the sushi paper, leaving a 2 cm gap between the front and back edge for rolling.
Layer your vegetables however you like. Top with some of your flaked salmon, some coriander leaves.
Then roll. using the mat to guide and a hand to gently squash and tuck the sushi paper down. Once the sushi paper is tucked around the ingredients snugly, use the mat to finish the roll and seal the edge. The first time might be messy but once you “get it” you will be rolling like a maki pro.
Using a sharp knife cut the maki roll in half for bigger portions or in 8ths for smaller portions.
Dipping sauce: finely chop the mint and coriander with the coconut sugar until supper fine.
Add into a bowl with boiling water and allow to infuse for a minute or so. Add the Kombucha, lime juice to taste, finely chopped deseeded chilli, soy sauce, adjusting the flavour for your palate.
Sushi paper is found in asian supermarkets or most major supermarkets, or online.
Kombucha can be purchased from healthfood stores or make your own.
Any left over dipping sauce makes a killer salad dressing.
You can double or triple the recipe for bigger quantities.
If you make these or any other recipe here, feel free to share your deliciousness over on Facebook.