Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
13 Feb

Sushi with a Twist

SushiWhile most people eat sushi for a meal, we think it also makes a great snack. Bite-sized portions packed with protein and veggies, rolled up in one of the most nutrient-rich foods around, seaweed. What could be a better between-meal snack than that?

We know what you’re thinking…what about the rice? Well, what about it? Rice isn’t known for its bold flavor. When you taste sushi without rice you’re going to find that the sushi doesn’t taste much different. Rice, however, is great filler and glue, which is the main reason it’s used in sushi rolls. Sushi rolls without rice don’t always hold together quite as well, but there are a few solutions for this. One is to use a sushi mat and take care to roll the sushi slowly and tightly. Two, add something besides rice as filler, like egg. Whisk one egg, fry it into a thin circle, and use it as the first layer in your roll. Third, and probably most importantly, get over the idea that pieces of sushi must be perfectly round, perfectly secure little bundles. Even if the sushi roll is a little loose, it tastes just the same.

Reader Marissa Davidson makes rice-less sushi as a snack all the time, and then she puts yet another twist on the recipe by using thinly sliced roast beef instead of raw fish. The rich flavor of beef paired with the nori seaweed creates that elusive and thrilling flavor combination known as umami. For the same affect, you can also try thin slices of seared flank steak. Raw fish, of course, is always an option as long as your seafood is fresh.

As for other fillings, use any vegetables you like. Avocado, cucumber and carrot are most typical, but consider greens like watercress or spinach to add flavor and nutrients. Take Marissa’s lead and be creative – and let us know what you come up with!


Sushi Ingredients

  • Sheets of nori seaweed
  • 1/4 lb (or more) of favorite sliced meat or fish
  • Avocado
  • Thinly sliced cucumbers
  • Thinly sliced carrots
  • Any other veggies of choice


Lay the nori shiny side down on a sushi mat. Place sliced meat on top of the nori. (If you’re using an egg, lay it down first).

Sushi with Egg

Spread avocado over meat in a thin layer or lay slices lengthwise about an inch from the bottom of the nori. Add a small pile of thinly sliced veggies at the bottom of the nori, too.

Sushi Roll

Fold the front edge of the nori over the toppings. After each fold, squeeze the roll to secure it tightly. Slice the roll into bite-sized pieces.


You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. What a fantastic idea! I just a place that carries nori as well – I’ll have to give this a try sometime soon. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

    Sarah wrote on February 13th, 2010
  2. make handrolls!

    barb wrote on February 13th, 2010
  3. I really like sushi. I do avoid tuna because of mercury.
    Great tips on the snacks.

    Organic Gabe wrote on February 13th, 2010
  4. Awesome! I do miss sushi rolls and I will have to try these. Yum.

    Lauren wrote on February 13th, 2010
  5. Just a little FYI: “sushi” is rice.

    Jack wrote on February 13th, 2010
    • It’s true that in American culture sushi does mean “rice dish,” but in Japanese the original characters in Japanese for sushi meant “salted fish guts” and that of other animal meat.

      Plus- nothing in America is right in the world when chicken soup doesn’t always have to be cooked with any chicken in it! :)
      See link

      Marissa wrote on February 13th, 2010
      • The word “sushi” means vinegar rice. You cannot make sushi without rice. You can make maki without rice!

        Jack wrote on February 16th, 2010
    • I think sushi is made with rice and sashimi is made without.

      Tim wrote on February 13th, 2010
      • you are correct sir 😉

        mike wrote on February 13th, 2010
      • Correct, but the word sushi specifically refers to the rice.

        Kelly wrote on February 13th, 2010
        • Vinegar rice.

          Holly wrote on February 13th, 2010
  6. Couldn’t you mash up some cauliflower and use that instead of rice?

    Eric wrote on February 13th, 2010
    • Good idea! I had cauliflower “grits” last night and that worked well

      Sarah wrote on February 13th, 2010
  7. Genius! I’m getting some sushi cravings right now..

    I should check if my local sushi-supplier makes riceless!

    Angelo wrote on February 13th, 2010
  8. Wow these look like a genius snack to carry around. I’ve never really thought about making sushi with roast beef. Trader Joe’s sells uncured Roast Beef and uncured pastrami.

    Roast Beef + Pastrami + Avocado + Spinach + Cucumbers = A very happy me.

    Randy wrote on February 13th, 2010
  9. I don’t think I’d particularly like roast beef sushi, but using a layer of egg is a great idea. We frequently make tamago for our homemade sushi and it would be easy enough to make it in a thin layer to lay on top of nori.

    I am fond of unagi sushi, though the sugary sauce isn’t strictly primal. Still, unagi + avocado + cucumber = win. :)

    Christine wrote on February 13th, 2010
    • Yuummmmm….my fiancee and I like unagi too! :)

      Ika wrote on February 13th, 2010
  10. Looks like a nice fresh new snack to try. I’ll have to give the roast beef version a whirl.

    Finding sushi grade seafood in Vermont is pretty darn close to impossible.

    Matthew Odette wrote on February 13th, 2010
  11. That looks and sound so yummy! I have never had sushi before. For the first 21 years of my life I was afraid of all seafood. But, just a few months ago I through away that fear and now I LOVE seafood, especially wild alaskan salmon.

    I will have to give this exact recipe a try! The roast beef alternative sounds excellent too :)

    Todd wrote on February 13th, 2010
  12. I like the cauliflower idea that Eric suggested. I also like the egg idea. Woot!

    fritchbeetle wrote on February 13th, 2010
  13. That looks yummy! Tasty, and also an excellent way to get more iodine (through the seaweed). Can’t wait to try it :))

    Sherissima wrote on February 13th, 2010
  14. I have to disagree with you on this one Mark. The rice they use for sushi, assuming its properly done in the authentic way, is very tasty even on its own. Its not sushi without the rice.

    Austin wrote on February 13th, 2010
  15. Rather than sushi, this type of dish should be called nori-maki, or seaweed roll.

    Sonagi wrote on February 13th, 2010
  16. Yeah, I have to say I really do like the vinegar-y taste of sushi rice too, Austin. I wonder if I tried it with the egg (or with cauliflower rice) and added a bit of vinegar, if it would be good?
    And for the people who were talking about what the words actually mean:
    sushi = the rice
    sashimi = just raw fish
    maki = a roll with the rice, veggies, meat, seaweed etc, like this recipe shows.

    Ika wrote on February 13th, 2010
  17. it’s not sushi.
    it’s good. but not sushi.
    a tip: try to eat the ingredients in pic 2 just as it is. and make sushi with fish and rice.

    hugo wrote on February 13th, 2010
  18. Yes, it is not sushi. Suhsi literally means “it’s sour” – a reference to the vinegar rice. It’s Nori-maki.

    Dualhammers wrote on February 13th, 2010
  19. This looks awesome! We will try it this week for sure!

    Lindsay wrote on February 14th, 2010
  20. This is closer to Korean kimbap than Japanese maki sushi (or even futo-maki sushi, considering all the ingredients. But both of those use rice.

    Now for some minor tips to make life easier (IMHO):

    -Wrap the bamboo mat in plastic wrap to make cleanup easier (cheap sushi restaurant idea).

    -Leave a small lip of exposed nori on the outside edge on the roll to have a “glue point.”

    -Keep a small bottle of “Sushi Rice Vinegar” (homemade is better, but bottled is okay) to use as a binder/glue on the edge of the nori to hold the roll. Water works but not as well.

    NicoB wrote on February 14th, 2010
    • Oh! And I forgot to add:


      Great idea!!!

      NicoB wrote on February 14th, 2010
  21. I don’t know about sushi, but I’m a big fan of ‘meat rolls’. I usually use ham or roast beef, and layer in any combination of condiments, veggies, or even tunafish. I’ve attempted many; my last one was horseradish, spicy brown mustard, red bell pepper, spinach, pickles, and a little shredded cheese, rolled up in a thick piece of roast beef. Sometimes I slice it up like sushi and eat it with a fork, and sometimes I leave it whole and bite it like a rollup sandwich. The combinations are endless and it’s delicious!

    Maureen wrote on February 14th, 2010
  22. I haven’t ever had rolls at sushi restaurants because I can’t eat artificial crab and being from the center of South Dakota there is RARELY any real crab involved… So… before I buy… how does Nori taste? Is it good? What is the flavor? What is the health benefit of nori? Is it comparable to anything else? What could I replace it with? (Sorry for the abundant qqs)


    mandabear2010 wrote on February 14th, 2010
    • Manda, if you get the chance try some sushi with shrimp or even just veggies. A lot of rolls don’t have anything to do with crab. Also there are excellent (for SD) sushi places in both Sioux Falls and Rapid City should you ever make it to one of those towns!

      Rayelle wrote on February 17th, 2010
  23. I’ve recently been grated and straining jicama in place of sushi rice. It’s amazing!

    Erin wrote on February 14th, 2010
  24. YUMMY! =)

    allie wrote on February 15th, 2010
  25. I’m ALL over this…hellayumballs!

    barbara wrote on February 15th, 2010
  26. we’ve been doing this for awhile now. my 2 & 4 year old kids love it. sometimes we’ll use smoked fish. or shredded chicken. usually with avocado and cucumbers. we soften the nori with diluted vinegar and sprinkle just a bit of sea salt over everything before we roll it up. YUM.

    nessa wrote on February 15th, 2010
  27. not to sound like a doucher, but i’m going to anyways:
    sushi translates to “sour rice”, and is the only “must have” ingredient to make something “sushi”. (the rice becomes sour from the vinegar it is cooked with)
    in fact, other ingredients are not necessary at all to make sushi. the “sushi rolls” that western culture is familiar with are actually called makizushi; strips of raw fish (or sometimes cooked seafood) are sashimi. i love me some sushi. in fact, i keep some of the sweet pickled ginger in my house at all times…but i never thought about making sushi as a snackfood. great idea!

    DZ wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • “not to sound like a doucher, but i’m going to anyways:”

      ‘Nuff said.

      Who cares what it is called? It tastes great!

      Robin Beers wrote on December 2nd, 2010
  28. I am thinking of roasting some cauliflower in the oven and taking it out when it’s still pretty firm, then running it over a cheese grater to make little ‘grains’ like rice. Then I’ll add a little homemade sushi rice vinegar to give it that zip. I’ll use that in the roll and it will be like I died and went to heaven!

    Now the best would be if I still had some frozen real wasabi root that I ordered online. But alas that loveliness is all et up!

    Rayelle wrote on February 17th, 2010
  29. Those do look good. I’ve had beef sushi before, but this looks way better. (It was like sliced beef & wasabi on a fried wonton wrapper, lame.) My friend’s had some great primal sushi at their wedding (OK, like 1 roll out of 20 was primal, but still) I don’t know how they did it, it looked like they cut a cucumber in a giant spiral and wrapped it around crab meat. It was SO good, but hard to describe. 😉

    Erin wrote on February 17th, 2010
  30. Lol…everyone’s all caught up in the name…???…if “kleenex” covers all tissues I think “sushi” can cover all nori rolls. It’s just a word folks, which in this case describes something that looks ultra delectable and yummy…I can’t WAIT to try it!

    PS to the post from SD, nori tastes like seaweed (’cause that’s what it is).

    darc wrote on February 18th, 2010
  31. Oh yeah, if the nori isn’t your cup of tea, try this rolled in a crisp, fresh leaf lettuce leaf. That goes for any of the other suggestions in this post, too. Yum!

    darc wrote on February 18th, 2010
  32. Oh man, I tried this recipe tonight and it was AWESOME!!! I used eggs, turkey, carrots, avacado, and pickles. Sprinkled it with some rice vinegar, rolled it up, dipped it in wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger. This recipe has changed my life. :) Thanks Mark!

    Rick wrote on February 18th, 2010
  33. Great combination of meat and vegetables! The sushi looks so good, you might want to name it.

    SushiTail wrote on February 18th, 2010

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