Sunday, June 12, 2016

Red Quinoa & Smoked Salmon Sushi - A Low GI Alternative to Sushi Rolls

Nori Maki is my favorite sushi!! I adore the taste of the nori seaweed paper and the sweet and tangy rice vinegar soaked sticky sushi rice! I've been hooked ever since my Sushi for Beginners class in Ballymaloe (see previous blog post here). I've been obsessed lately with trying to eat foods with a low GI, and trying to pair the correct foods together. I was shocked to see sushi rice so high on the glycemic index (89). Not one to say good bye to my beloved nori maki rolls, I set about trying to find an alternative for the high GI rice. After all, every other part of the rolls are extremely healthy.

That's when I discovered that the awesome quinoa could do the same job as the rice. I have developed quite an obsession for red quinoa, I love the crunchier texture over white quinoa, but they both still have the same nutrient make up more or less. I'll admit that white quinoa is fluffier and probably be easier to work with from a 'sticky' perspective, but I think that the red quinoa just has more flavor, dammit!! :)

There is something so satisfying about rolling nori maki rolls. I can't put my finger on it, it's reminds me of make and do as a child and has a fun playful aspect to it. It's actually childsplay to make and you'll find that you become more confident and accomplished as you progress from rolling your first roll to the final one.

I have an endless supply of gorgeous fresh smoked salmon in my kitchen from the Bed and Breakfast so I robbed some for my dinner to make these rolls. We get our salmon delivered to the door from a local supplier and it's definately worth buying your smoked salmon locally. There is no comparison with the cheaper supermarket alternatives. If you don't like/have smoked salmon you can use pretty much anything, prawns, crab, or go completely veggie, and have a rainbow of peppers and cucumbers. There are no rules!! Afterall, I'm not even using rice!

I will say you can't have sushi without wasabi, pickled ginger or soy! Now that's a deal breaker! I love the hot hit you get from wasabi, so I spread it on my salmon in the roll, but if you're not that hard core, just plant a blob of it on the side of your plate and dip in the roll after. The 'hot hit' though is an addictive feeling.

Here's the recipe to my favorite, but use this as a guide and substitute in the ingredients you like

Makes 4 Rolls


  • 1 cup of red quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 tbsp japanese rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 4 nori sheets, try to source a sushi rolling bamboo mat also. They are usually sold along side the nori sheets. It makes rolling so much easier.
  • 50g of smoked salmon, sliced thinly
  • Thinly sliced variety of peppers, carrots, and cucumber
  • 1 tube of wasabi
  • soy sauce
  • pickled ginger


  1. Firstly you must cook you quinoa. Add 2 cups of water to a saucepan, bring to a boil, add the the quinoa and cook on a simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain well.
  3. Spread the quinoa out in a dish and mix in the vinegar, salt and sugar and make sure everything gets well coated.
  4. Allow the quinoa to cool.
  5. Get your bamboo rolling mat and place in front of you.
  6. Wave a sheet of nori over the hob, careful not to burn, but just to heat slightly to make the sheet more pliable.
  7. Place the nori sheet on the bamboo mat, shiny side down.
  8. Spread a thin layer of quinoa over the the whole sheet, out to the edges, leaving a small space at the top side of the sheet to seal it. 
  9. Lay the smoked salmon and the vegetables (whichever combination you prefer) on the side nearest you. Careful not to over fill as the roll will burst if over filled. I know this from vast greedy experience.
  10. Dab the empty edge of the nori sheet with rice vinegar using your finger. This is your glue.
  11. Carefully , as tight as you can, start rolling the the roll, away from you.
  12. I like to cut the ends of the sushi rolls normally for a cleaner finish, and these ends are cooks treat.
  13. Cut the roll in half, and then cut those halves in half, and finally , cut those pieces in half. You should have eight pieces, for small bites. you can make them bigger, but the sushi etiquette is to be able to eat your roll in one mouth full, and I don't know about you, but my mouth isn't big enough for anything bigger than 1/8 of a roll at a time.

To serve, put a 'blob' of wasabi on the side of the plate, soy sauce in a dish and pickled ginger on the side. Dip and enjoy.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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