Nori rolls are one of my favourite quick and healthy go-to lunches. Making them is a cinch. My version is made with brown rice (genmai) and black quinoa instead of white sushi rice. I’m a big fan of mixing up my grains. In Japan this is called zakkokumai. Zakkoku means ‘mixed grains’, and mai is rice. There are infinite zakkokumai combinations possible! Think amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, etc. You can also mix through a small portion of pulses like black beans, azuki beans or mung beans. You will need to cook these in a separate pot and mix them through the rice once both are cooked.
Approach the filling of your nori rolls just like you would if you were making a sandwich; anything goes, just use any combination of raw vegetables that are in season. I’ve included some pickled daikon, which I am totally addicted to at the moment. Daikon is a ginormous white radish that is thought to have made its way into modern Japanese cooking via China. Once pickled it has a crisp sweet taste. Daikon is an excellent source of Vitamin C!
If you have time it’s always preferable to wash then soak your whole grains (legumes, nuts and seeds) for 24 hours before cooking them. This is an ancient practice that helps to breakdown the difficult to digest components of grains (called phytates), and at the same time helps to increase nutrient availability. As a basic rule of thumb, add enough warm water to cover the grains, and add a small amount of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. One teaspoon per cup of water is about right. Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself of anything you may need to soak for the following day... you’ll soon fall into the groove of it!
1 small red chilli
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coconut sugar (or alternatively, any kind of sugar or honey will suffice)
Peel daikon and halve lengthways. Slice into 7mm discs.
Halve and thinly slice chilli, removing seeds.
Add all ingredients to a bowl and gently toss until daikon pieces are evenly covered.
Pop your daikon pieces in a pickle press and put into the fridge. If you don’t have a pickle press, simply place in a bowl and cover with a plate that fits inside the bowl, then add something heavy, like a bag of rice, and refrigerate. Your pickles will be ready in 48 hours and can be eaten alone as well as in nori rolls. This kind of ‘quick pickle’ is highly perishable and should be eaten within a few days.
1 cup brown rice
Approx 1/4 cup black quinoa
4 - 5 nori sheets
Mixed lettuce leaves and/or cucumber
Thinly sliced red capsicum
Toasted white sesame seeds
Toasted sunflower seeds
4 tbsp brown rice vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp sea salt
Tamari and wasabi to serve.
Keeping them separate, thoroughly wash both your rice and quinoa. Add just the rice and 1.5 cups of cold water to a saucepan and bring to boil stirring occasionally. Turn heat to low, add quinoa and cover. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes. Remove rice from saucepan and allow to cool.
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, water, maple syrup and salt and pour over rice.
Put a small bowl of water next to your workspace. Place one nori sheet shiny side down on a cutting board. The shorter edge is the one closest to you. Lay about ¾ cup of cooked grains to about ¾ of the nori sheet. The rice should go all the way to the outside edges.
Slice pickled daikon pieces into three. Place all remaining ingredients on rice as pictured above.
Starting with the edge of the nori closest to you, use your thumbs and forefingers to roll away from you. Use your other fingers to hold the filling while rolling as tightly as possible to enclose.
Continue rolling until you run out of nori. To stick down the end of the nori dip your fingers into your water bowl and wet the loose edge of the nori. Now gently press the nori in place to secure your roll.
Use a wet sharp knife to either cut into two pieces and eat with your fingers, or cut into smaller pieces and arrange on a plate with chopsticks. Serve with tamari and wasabi.