If you are looking for a fun and easy lunch or dinner idea, have you tried Nori Rolls? Nori is a type of edible, dried seaweed. It is roasted, dried, and made into sheets that actually resemble paper.
I know people put Nori in soups and other dishes, but it is most commonly used for sushi. It is that dark, outside layer of a sushi roll. It is slightly salty and full of minerals. Straight from the package, it is dry and somewhat brittle, but once it comes in contact with the damp sushi rice it softens and rolls easily.
I know the word sushi probably brings a bit of fear into some readers. But, truthfully, the word sushi does not equal raw fish. I had this misconception for years, and actually entered adulthood believing sushi was some sort of raw fish and rice roll. In reality, sushi is a style of Japanese food that consists of vinegar seasoned rice with a variety of vegetables and/or seafood (which may or may not be cooked).
So please, don’t fear the sushi. It is really quite delicious and a fun gluten free lunchbox option. Most kids do know what sushi is, and I am sure they would be the envy of their classmates to open up their lunchbox to find some beautiful bite-sized nori rolls.
My girls and I love salmon and cucumbers so it is an obvious combination for our nori rolls. But whatever veggies or seafood you like could be used. I have even seen some not so traditional combinations include poultry and beef and a LOT stay strictly with the vegetables. It’s really up to you and a great way to use up those small portions of leftovers that might otherwise just get tossed. And you could keep the ingredients really simple or get super creative. The sky is really the limit here.
In order to make nori rolls, there are a few inexpensive things you need to get: a sushi mat, sushi rice, and nori. If you have an Asian market nearby this would be the easiest and probably least expensive place to purchase these items.
You’ll need a sushi mat, but they are extremely inexpensive; I paid $2 for a bamboo one at an Asian market.
Sushi rice is a short grain rice that is sticky when it is cooked, it is typically labeled “sushi rice” but you can use another short grain rice. You prepare it like regular rice and then stir in a mixture containing vinegar, salt and sugar. I have a recipe below.
Nori sheets are sold in small plastic packages and you are looking for the roasted, unflavored variety. I buy the ones containing seaweed as the only ingredient.
My kids love to help and we are far from experts, and yet we can get a beautiful nori roll. The pictures below are actually from our very first attempt ever at making sushi at home (and my 3 year old did most of the work actually).
- 2 1/4 cups sushi or short grain rice
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- In a medium bowl, rinse the rice by pouring water over it, swirling it, and then pouring the water off until it no longer looks cloudy (this will take 4-5 times). Strain rice and place in in a saucepan. Add water and allow to sit 30 minutes. Cover, and bring rice to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. (Alternately, you can just use a rice cooker to cook your rice) Scoop rice into a shallow bowl or pan to cool.
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Add to warm rice and stir to incorporate thoroughly. Allow rice to cool to room temperature before using.
Salmon & Cucumber Nori Rolls
This should make 3-4 nori rolls, depending on the size of your nori sheets.
- 3-4 sheet of roasted nori
- half a seedless cucumber cut into thin spears (think of shoe string fries)
- about 1 cup cooked, flaked boneless salmon
- 1 recipe sushi rice
- Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your sushi mat (this just makes cleanup easier). Place a nori sheet, dark side down on the plastic wrap and evenly spread a thin layer of sushi rice, making sure to not go over the edges of the nori.
- Beginning with the side closest to you, top the rice with the cucumber sticks, then the salmon, and more cucumber if desired; making sure the fillings stop about the middle of the rice.
- Lift the end of the mat, and gently roll it over the ingredients, pressing gently. Roll it forward to make a complete roll. I pull the sushi mat back toward myself, forming a nicely sealed and evenly shaped roll. I like to refrigerate the roll at this time so I can finish preparing the remaining rolls.
- Remove plastic wrap and cut each roll into 4-6 slices with a wet knife. Serve with gluten free soy sauce, pickled ginger, or wasabi if desired.