One of the ingredients that people associate with sushi is nori. If you order sushi at your local Japanese restaurant you will see that many of the sushi varieties contain this thin sheet of seaweed.
If you don’t like sushi with seaweed, you can order some varieties that are made without it.
What are the types of sushi without seaweed? Some of the most popular types of sushi without seaweed are nigiri, tamagoyaki, inarizushi, and mackerel sushi. The popular California rolls can be made without seaweed and be wrapped in soy paper instead.
Continue reading to learn more about sushi varieties without seaweed.
In this article, you will also get to know what is the difference between sushi and sashimi, as well as what to use instead of seaweed if you are making sushi at home!
What Exactly Is Sushi?
If you have never eaten sushi, you have at least seen it. This Japanese dish is widely popular in various parts of the world, including the US. And what’s interesting, there are multiple types of sushi that you can find only in America.
Some of the most popular Western-style sushi varieties include California and Philadelphia rolls, and Caterpillar rolls.
While some people think of sushi as raw fish, this dish comes in many varieties. Though we should note that the traditional Japanese way of making and eating sushi is much simpler than what they do in other countries.
The primary ingredient in sushi is rice. Sushi rice implies cooking small or medium-grain rice with high starch content.
And when the rice is cooked, rice vinegar is added to it for flavor and added stickiness. With this said, not all sushi is made with rice.
Raw fish, wasabi, soy sauce, cucumbers, avocado, and carrots are some other popular sushi ingredients. Another ingredient used in the making of different types of sushi is nori.
What Is Nori?
The word nori translates into ocean moss from Japanese. Nori is essentially edible seaweed. It is made by shredding the seaweed and then pressing it to form thin sheets. The sheets of nori are paper-thin.
You can buy a pack of nori in your nearby grocery stores. Nori is widely available thanks to its many uses in Asian-style cooking.
While the most popular use of seaweed is in sushi-making, nori can be a great addition to many other dishes. You can cut a sheet of nori into bite-size pieces and use it as topping for rice, salads, and soups.
When it comes to flavor, nori tastes much like seaweed. It has an umami flavor profile. It is also salty with briny and smoky notes.
Why Do You Need Seaweed for Sushi?
There are two reasons why nori is used for sushi.
First, it holds all ingredients in place for a sushi roll. While there are nori-free sushi rolls too, rolls wrapped with a sheet of seaweed are certainly more stable. A strip of nori can be used to keep toppings on a mound of rice too.
But nori is used inside sushi rolls too. So, the second reason why it is used in sushi is the flavor. Certain sushi food combinations benefit from the smoky salty flavor of nori.
Is All Sushi Made with Seaweed?
Some people don’t like the flavor of nori. Others find the idea of eating seaweed off-putting. And there are also people who are allergic to seaweed.
Whatever is your reason to not want to have any seaweed in your sushi, you still have a range of sushi options to choose from.
Sushi Vs Sashimi
If you ask for sushi without seaweed, you may be offered sashimi. Sashimi is another Japanese dish that is often considered to be a type of sushi.
But unlike sushi that contains rice, vegetables, raw or cooked fish, sashimi is simply thinly sliced raw fish. No rice is served with sashimi.
Japanese restaurants serve different types of sashimi, including salmon, tuna, shrimp, and octopus sashimi.
Telling the difference between sushi and sashimi is quite easy thanks to the absence of rice in sashimi.
So, if you don’t like seaweed, you can order sashimi. But eating sashimi may not provide you with the sushi experience you want to have.
If this is the case, go for sushi varieties that don’t contain any seaweed. Alternatively, if you are making sushi yourself, substitute seaweed with other ingredients.
The 5 Types Of Sushi Without Seaweed
Some of the most popular sushi varieties contain seaweed, including maki, temaki, and uramaki. But there are also many other varieties that don’t contain seaweed.
Here are 5 types of sushi without seaweed. Keep these names in mind when ordering sushi at your local Japanese restaurant.
Nigiri is one of the most popular types of sushi. This sushi variety is comprised of two main ingredients. It is made of a mound of sushi rice that is topped with a slice of fish. The fish is usually raw.
Each nigiri sushi is molded by hand individually. Thanks to the stickiness of sushi rice, the slice of meat sticks to it well and doesn’t fall off when pressed.
Eating this hand-pressed sushi makes you experience the sweetness of sushi rice paired with the freshness of fish.
The overall flavor of nigiri may differ depending on the type of fish used. It can be fresh tuna, salmon, eel, etc. Shrimp and octopus can be used for nigiri too.
While you can keep nigiri simple and make it using only two ingredients, you can also add other layers of flavor. Wasabi can go in-between the rice and raw fish.
Tamagoyaki, also known as Tamago sushi, is essentially rice-less sushi. Translated from Japanese, tamago means egg.
So, it is easy to guess that the main ingredient in this sushi variety is eggs. In fact, most often it is the only ingredient too.
A thin egg omelet is rolled and cut into bite-size rolls. It may be served as is or on a base of sushi rice like nigiri.
Tamagoyaki is a great sushi choice if you are trying to cut down on carbs. And if you eat omelets often, you will find the flavor quite familiar.
But this egg sushi is sweeter as sugar is added to the beaten eggs. Some recipes also use mirin. Mirin is a sweet rice vinegar with a light syrupy texture.
3. Inarizushi (Inari Sushi)
Another type of sushi you can order if you are avoiding seaweed is Inari sushi. Inari sushi, Inarizushi as they call it in Japan, is sushi rice stuffed in a tofu pocket.
The latter is made very thin to not overpower the flavor of the sushi rice and other ingredients that may be added into the deep-fried tofu pockets.
The rice for Inari sushi is flavored with mirin, soy sauce, and sugar. These ingredients create a unique flavor along with the flavorful tofu. Aside from sushi rice, the tofu pockets may also contain sesame seeds and chopped vegetables.
Aside from being a favorite sushi variety for people who don’t eat nori, Inari sushi is also a popular choice among vegans.
Another advantage of Inari sushi is that as the pockets are closed and keep the sushi filling inside securely, you can eat it with your hands.
4. California Roll
California rolls are some of the most popular sushi rolls outside Japan. While these roles have major popularity, it is still a matter of debate who discovered them.
Some sources cite Los Angeles chefs as the inventors of the California roll while others give credit to a Canada-based Japanese chef.
What makes California rolls different from other rolls is that they are rolled inside-out, meaning that the outer layer of the roll is not nori but rice.
Other ingredients used for California rolls are crab meat, cucumbers, and avocado. Imitation crab can replace real crab meat.
If you don’t eat seaweed, you can order or make California rolls wrapped in soy paper.
5. Mackerel (Saba)
If you don’t like strong-flavored fish, you might want to avoid ordering mackerel sushi. While it is seaweed-free, mackerel sushi has a rich flavor coming from the cured mackerel fillet.
The fish is cured in salt and vinegar before it is used for sushi. This is done to improve its flavor and aroma as well as minimize the risk of food poisoning.
The fish in mackerel sushi is often served on a bed of hand-shaped mounds of rice which is why it may be considered a type of nigiri.
But it can also be served as a maki roll which is made with seaweed. If you are avoiding seaweed, choose nigiri-style mackerel sushi.
Mackerel sushi may be topped with fresh ginger and scallions for added flavor.
5 Seaweed Substitutes For Sushi
Making sushi requires a lot of skills and techniques. But this doesn’t mean an amateur cook shouldn’t try making sushi at home.
The sushi you make at home won’t turn out as perfect as the one made by a Japanese sushi master with years of training. But still, attempting to make your own sushi rolls is still a good idea if you enjoy eating sushi.
Here are 5 ingredients you can use instead of seaweed to make sushi.
Eggs are a popular ingredient for sushi. If you like it in your sushi, you might as well use an omelet instead of the seaweed wrapping.
The key here is learning how to make paper-thin omelets. If your omelet turns out too thick, you will end up with an omelet roulette.
The medium thickness will make another dish: gyeren-mari. This is a Korean-rolled omelet that features a thin omelet rolled like a roulette around chopped vegetables.
To make a paper-thin omelet, you will need a non-stick pan that is on the bigger side. To improve the consistency of the beaten eggs and make them easy to work with, you can mix a bit of cornstarch into them.
When opting for an omelet as a substitute for seaweed, note that the texture of the omelet is very different from the texture of the seaweed. Omelet is soft while seaweed has a crunchier texture.
2. Rice Paper
Rice paper is a popular substitute for seaweed. It is widely used in the making of various Asian dishes. And it won’t take away from the Asian feel of the dish.
Popularly used for spring rolls, rice paper is a clever alternative to seaweed. When making spring rolls, you need to soak them in water to soften them and make them pliable.
You should do the same when making sushi. Rice paper will hold the rice and sushi fillings inside very securely.
The good thing about rice paper is that it has a neutral flavor. It will go well with any kind of sushi. The texture, however, is quite unique. It is chewy and somewhat sticky.
If you are looking for a widely available seaweed substitute that also has a familiar flavor, go with lettuce.
But as lettuce ends won’t stick to each other as well as seaweed sheets do when you wet them, we recommend you use lettuce instead of seaweed for hand-rolled sushi.
The Japanese name for hand-rolled sushi is Temaki. Temaki rolls are essentially rice and different sushi ingredients rolled in a sheet of nori shaped into a cone.
Unlike regular sushi that you eat with chopsticks, you should eat Temaki with your hands.
So, lettuce is a great alternative for seaweed in this type of sushi.
If you don’t mind wrapping your sushi with nori, you can still incorporate lettuce in your sushi. You can wrap rice and nori around the lettuce and a few of your favorite sushi ingredients, including cucumbers, crab sticks omelet, etc.
4. Cucumber Wraps
Another great substitute for seaweed is cucumber. For this, you will need a medium or a large cucumber. It should be firm so that you can slice it thinly with ease.
Wash the cucumber with cold water. Peel it. Then, using a vegetable peeler, cut long cucumber strips. If you have advanced knife skills and concentration, you can cut thin cucumber slices using a knife too.
You can wrap individual sushis in each cucumber slice. Or, you can arrange the slices to form a sheet and form one large sushi roll.
The mild flavor of cucumber will pair well with the rest of your sushi ingredients. Additionally, cucumber is nothing new to different types of sushi. So, the flavor combinations it forms won’t be something new to your palate.
5. Soy Wraps
Soy wraps are also known as no seaweed nori. They are made from compressed soy beans and come in various fun colors.
When wrapping rice and other ingredients in soy wraps, apply enough pressure to shape the roll. Also, use a few drops of water to make the wrap stick.
Though when using sushi rice for the roll you will find that the soy sheet sticks to it quite well without the use of water too.
Soy wraps don’t have much taste to them. This is a good thing when using them as a substitute for nori as these wraps won’t interfere with the overall flavor of the rolls.
Soy paper by different brands may contain different ingredients. Make sure you read the label before using the soy wraps. Aside from soybeans, soy wrappers may include such ingredients as sesame seeds, soybean oil, rice syrup, etc.
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