Sushi: the land of starchy rice, raw fish and slivers of vegetables.
And, if you’re at a fancy restaurant, chunks of deep-fried shrimp and maybe a sweet sauce draped on top.
I’ve been dying to bring quinoa into the sushi party mix for months, but when I first tried quinoa sushi, it flopped—not enough stickiness to hold together well and the flavor was off. Adding black rice (also known as forbidden rice) to the mix turned out to be key: it’s stickier than regular white or brown rice, though not as sticky as the traditional glutinous sushi rice. The black rice maintained the familiar rice flavor and a just-sticky-enough base to soak up the rice seasoning and hold together all the loose grains of quinoa—PLUS an extra boost of fiber and amino acids!
The sushi rice is really the key to making sushi at home. Once you have that down, you can mix and match your toppings—my family always used fresh cucumber, sliced cooked egg, imitation crab, slices of fried spam (don’t judge before you try it!) or store-bought eel and soy sauce for dipping. Making sushi brings me back to those family dinners, even though I’ve long swapped out the spam for avocado and the white rice for this tasty quinoa-black rice mix.
In the post, I’ll show you two ways to assemble your sushi:
1) Hand roll (Temaki): Since learning this technique from a Japanese family friend, we’ve turned sushi nights into a family tradition. Simply take a square of dried seaweed, add a scoop of rice and desired toppings, roll and eat!
2) Rolled (Maki): This looks prettier, and that’s about all it’s got going for it. I’m more about speed of food-to-mouth so I’m no expert on the rolling method (some people use bamboo mats to roll their sushi; I do not), but you can get the approximate shape by spreading your rice and fillings evenly across a whole sheet of seaweed, rolling and slicing (with a very sharp knife). If you want tips from a pro, watch this.
I halved this recipe when making it for me and Erik since I didn’t want to be testing and eating sushi for days. However, I think the amounts as written will make a good amount for a small family, or for a singleton with leftovers that will keep deliciously for the week. Since you have to cook the two grains in two different pots, I would err on the side of making more than less so you can make multiple meals out of this. Once you make the rice, you have the makings for an incredibly easy and healthy meal!
Salt, sugar and rice vinegar are the holy trinity of sushi rice seasoning. If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can try substituting distilled white or apple cider vinegar, but rice vinegar really is the best. If you are averse to using refined sugar, try using honey or another liquid sweetener, or omitting it altogether.
- For the sushi rice:
- 2/3 cup quinoa, dry
- 2/3 cup black rice, dry
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon table salt (don't use sea salt--it will be too grainy)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- For assembly:
- 1 package dried seaweed (nori)
- soy sauce, for dipping
- Filling ideas:
- Cucumber, chopped into thin slices or matchsticks
- Imitation crab
- Eggs (2-4, made into an omelet)
- Avocado, sliced
- Carrots, chopped into thin slices or matchsticks
- Pickled radish
- Umeboshi paste
- Blanched spinach with a dash of sesame oil, sesame seeds and rice vinegar
- Smoked salmon
To make the sushi rice:
Cook quinoa and black rice as directed. Once cooked and cooled slightly, mix grains together. While still warm, toss with salt and sugar, then vinegar.
While rice is cooling, make the omelette if you choose to include it. (Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper; pour into a small, lightly greased frying pan over medium heat until egg is set. Flip and cook until egg is cooked through.) Let cool slightly before cutting into strips.
Assembly option #1 - temaki (hand rolls):
Make your own hand rolls: Cut the seaweed sheets into fourths. Take a square of seaweed and top with a spoonful of sushi rice and desired toppings. Roll up, dip into soy sauce, and eat!
Assembly option #2 - maki (rolled) sushi:
Spread a full sheet of seaweed out on a flat surface. Spread rice evenly across the sheet, starting from the bottom and working up to your desired height (you can fill the entire sheet; I usually stopped about 1/3 of the way up for a more equal ratio of rice and filling). Spread rice to the edges that you can't see any seaweed on either side.
Lay toppings in a line parallel to the bottom of the seaweed sheet about 1-2 inches from the bottom. Take the bottom edge of the seaweed and roll it over the toppings, rolling it as tightly as possible. Continue rolling until you reach the end of the seaweed and let the roll rest on the crease where the loose end of the seaweed is—this will help seal the end. Roll the rest of your sushi and use a sharp knife to cut into sections.