Demystifying the Hand Roll

Sushi Hand RollsFor years, I have been afraid to make sushi of any kind. I always thought that I should leave it to the experts or that it was too fussy and time consuming. I do actually think that the best sushi is made by superior sushi chefs; there is a way to cut and arrange the ingredients that makes some sushi better than others. Recently, though, I saw a recipe in NomNomPaleo’s new cookbook, Food for Humans, that made me think I could do it. I haven’t made her version yet, but I have all the ingredients so I will be. Instead, I found myself hungry and needing something fast so I broke out my nori and went to town.

Nori is dried sheets of seaweed. You can get them toasted or toast them yourself. I bought them ready to go. If you have a favorite brand of nori, I’d love to hear it. I use Emerald Cove that I got from our local Vitamin Cottage and it is amazingly delicious.

Nori is also really nutritious. One large sheet, enough for two hand rolls, has a ton of minerals to support your health. Notably, there is a considerable amount of iodine, which is an essential mineral that has been added to table salt for years because it is a simple way to prevent iodine deficiency, a leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities. These days, many people have switched to kosher salt or other non-iodized salts, which means we’re getting less iodine. Nori is one excellent and palate-pleasing way to make up for that!

Since making my first hand rolls, I have eaten them every single day. They have been a snack, a side next to some soup, and full on lunch. They are so quick and easy to throw together – I truly didn’t realize that. I am going to share three of the recipes that I made this week, but the variations are endless. I don’t have a picture of the chicken one because I kept eating it before taking a picture of it. We don’t have a lot of opportunity to get fresh fish here so I use whatever protein I have. I’m sure I will make a shrimp one, a tuna one, and a crab one in my near future, and then all kinds of other proteins.

Here’s the basic idea: Protein, crunchy veggies and/or fruit, something creamy like a sauce or avocado (or both!), and any other flavor additions like herbs, hot sauce, etc. I like to start with something creamy on the bottom, add the protein, then the crunchy elements, then top with a little avocado. Or avocado on the bottom, sauce on the top. Or just herbs on the top as with the Basil-Apple-Beef roll. Just start experimenting!

Asian Chicken Hand Roll

1 nori sheet

2-3 oz. cooked chicken

1 small (Persian) cucumber

1/4 bell pepper, preferably red, yellow, or orange

1/4 avocado

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayo

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. coconut aminos

A couple shakes of hot sauce

salt to taste

Directions

1) Break or cut the nori sheet lengthwise down the middle. Shred or finely chop the chicken. Slice the cucumber, bell pepper, and avocado into very thin strips. Mix the mayo, sesame oil, coconut aminos, and hot sauce in a small bowl.

2) Hold the nori sheet shiny side down in one hand. Spread 1/2 the sauce from the top left corner to about the middle of the sheet. Layer on 1/2 the chicken and a few slices of cucumber and bell pepper. Add the avocado slices last and a little pinch of salt. There might be some leftover veggies to snack on.

3) Fold the shorter, right hand corner (if the nori is in your left hand) over first and then start wrapping the longer side around to form a cone. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just rolled up! Eat immediately so the nori doesn’t get soft.

Spicy Beef Hand roll

1 Nori sheet, cut in half

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayo

A couple shakes of hot sauce

2 oz. cooked beef, thinly sliced (I used flank steak)

1/4 of a bell pepper, very thinly sliced

1 mini cucumber, very thinly sliced

1/4 of an avocado

salt and pepper

Directions

1) Hold the nori sheet shiny side down in one hand. Spread 1/2 the spicy mayo from the top left corner to about the middle of the sheet. Layer on 1/2 the beef and a few slices of cucumber and bell pepper. Add the avocado slices last and a little pinch of salt. There might be some leftover veggies to snack on.

2) Fold the shorter, right hand corner (if the nori is in your left hand) over first and then start wrapping the longer side around to form a cone. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just rolled up! Eat immediately so the nori doesn’t get soft.

Apple-Basil-Beef Hand Roll

1 Nori sheet, cut in half

1 Tbsp. Paleo mayo

2 oz. cooked beef, very thinly sliced (I used flank steak)

A few very thin slices of apple cut into matchsticks (I used some of my son’s Ambrosia apple)

Basil chiffonade, about 1 Tbsp.

Directions

1) Hold the nori sheet shiny side down in one hand. Spread 1/2 the mayo from the top left corner to about the middle of the sheet. Layer on 1/2 the beef and several apple sticks. Add the basil chiffonade.

2) Fold the shorter, right hand corner (if the nori is in your left hand) over first and then start wrapping the longer side around to form a cone. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just rolled up! Eat immediately so the nori doesn’t get soft.

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