I didn’t grow up eating much fish. As a kid I turned my nose up at it and that continued as I became a teenager. Until I tried sushi! I immediately loved it and to this day it is still the type of food that I order out the most.
Eventually, cooking fish at home made its way into my cooking, but I hadn’t tried making sushi. Making sushi at home was really daunting but I found a sushi cookbook with really good basic instructions and I thought I would give it a chance. It turned out to be pretty straight forward! Of course, my rolls don’t look anywhere near restaurant status and I'll have to practice a lot before I try rolling with the rice on the outside but it’s a start.
I found a research paper that ties together both this recipe and my job in aquaculture! I work in a diagnostic lab that tests farm raised fish for virus and disease so when I saw a paper titled “What are the Prospects for Using Seaweed in Human Nutrition and for Marine Animals Raised Through Aquaculture?” I had to look into it further. This paper showed that in certain parts of the world, seaweed or algae are not highly consumed and they proposed feeding seaweed to farm raised fish to boost the amount of seaweed consumed in areas that are lacking. (Fleurence et al 58-59). This is important because seaweed is so good for you, “As well as proteins, seaweeds are well known to contain a high proportion of polysaccharides which are considered food fibres for human consumption” (Fleurence et al. 58). In addition, “some macroalgae also possess high levels of mineral elements which have nutritional value such as calcium and magnesium” (Fleurence et al. 58). Not only would the consumption of algae by fish improve the nutrition of those consuming it but it has other positive side effects, “the addition of 5% of algae meal increases the growth rate of fish and, in particular, improves protein assimilation, thus decreasing the nitrogen output into the environment” (Fleurence et al. 59). Very interesting findings, overall.
Seaweed has a slew of other health benefits, in the paper, “Nutritional and Digestive Health Benefits of Seaweed” the high protein levels of sushi are highlighted, “The amino acid score of the proteins in some red seaweed such as Porphyra spp. and Undaria spp. was 91 and 100, respectively, the same as that in animal-derived foods (Rajapakse and Kim 19). I never would have thought that seaweed could have the same level of protein as animal based food! Seaweed is also packed with vitamins, “seaweed contains several vitamins both water soluble such as B and C and lipid soluble such as A and E at varying levels (Rajapakse and Kim 20). It is important to note that different seaweeds have different benefits and some of those benefits aren’t “bioavailable” to us (Rajapakse and Kim 19). Look into the best option for you! And then try making sushi with it :)
Makes: 25 sushi pieces
Sushi rolling mat
1 cup sticky rice/sushi rice
1 ¼ cup water
1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Package of seaweed
Package of smoked salmon
*optional for serving!
1. SOAK THE RICE. This is a very important step, don’t skip it. Soak in cold water for 15 minutes, drain.
2. Add ½ cup rice and 1 ¼ cup water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt to a small bowl and combine. Fold this mixture into the rice. Allow to cool before making sushi.
4. Chop salmon, cucumber and avocado into thin slices.
5. Once the rice has cooled you can begin your assembly line. Place a piece of seaweed on your mat. With a wooden spoon place a spoonful (2-3 Tbsp) of rice at the end of the seaweed closest to you. You won’t be using the entire piece of seaweed. Press down with the back of the wooden spoon covering about half of the seaweed paper. Fill with slices of salmon, cucumber and avocado.
6. Keeping the filling in the middle using your fingers, lift the mat up and over bringing the end nearest you to meet the end of the rice on the other side. The rice will seal the roll. Use the mat to squeeze it down and make sure both sides are stuck together. I then cut the remaining unused seaweed paper off. If it’s big enough you can use it to make your next roll.
7. Continue until all your ingredients have run out.
Fleurence, Joel, et al. “What Are the Prospects for Using Seaweed in Human Nutrition and for Marine Animals Raised Through Aquaculture.” Trends in Food Science and Technology, vol. 27, 2012, pp. 57–61.
Rajapakse, Niranjan, and Se-Kwon Kim. “Nutritional and Digestive Health Benefits of Seaweed.” Marine Medicinal Foods - Implications and Applications, Macro and Microalgae Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, vol. 64, 2011, pp. 17–28.
Author: Lucy Lafranchise
Photographer: Jack Klipfel