You bought all the ingredients to make sushi only to discover that you’re out of rice. Sushi rice is used due to its stickiness. What about quinoa? Is it possible to make sushi rolls with quinoa?
To make homemade sushi rice with quinoa, you need to use less water and do not let the quinoa thoroughly cook so that it will be sticky. If you want to combine quinoa and rice, use a rice cooker for best results. For an authentic taste, add sushi vinegar.
Maybe you want to add a twist to your sushi or perhaps you are trying to cut back on white rice? Or you could have heard that quinoa has more protein and nutrients than rice. Whatever the reason, read on to discover the how’s and why’s of quinoa in your sushi.
Why Use Quinoa
Along with merely tasting good, quinoa has some qualities that rice does not. These include:
- Protein. Not only does quinoa have twice as much protein as rice, but quinoa’s protein is complete, meaning it has all nine essential amino acids. This is due in part to quinoa not being a true carbohydrate but a seed.
- Carbs and Fiber. Although quinoa is not a low carb food, it has fewer carbs than rice. Quinoa also contains more fiber, meaning it will leave you feeling fuller.
- Glycemic Index. Foods with high glycemic indexes make it harder for the body to regulate blood sugar. White rice has a 73 out of 100, and quinoa only has 53.
These benefits are one reason to add quinoa to your sushi (and your diet in general). But even if quinoa did not have those health benefits, there is another reason to make it an additional ingredient—it tastes good.
Cooking Quinoa the Sushi Way
Since quinoa is not a traditional sushi ingredient, how do you add it and make traditional sushi? You do so by adding sushi vinegar. The word sushi refers to vinegared rice used in its many varieties. Adding sushi vinegar will add enough authenticity that you can still call it sushi.
Some people worry that quinoa will not be sticky like rice.
Generally, quinoa found in stores will be sticky enough. Still, if you want extra-sticky quinoa, a variety grown in Canada contains the same starch—amylopectin—that makes sticky rice sticky. This golden Canadian quinoa is available in some stores or online.
If you are using commonly available quinoa, the following recipe will make cooked quinoa that is sticky like rice.
To get started, you will need:
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups water (the water to quinoa ratio is typically 1 to 2, but for sticky quinoa, use less water)
To cook the quinoa, follow these directions:
- Rinse the quinoa well. Rinsing improves quinoa’s taste by removing the saponin. If you have ever eaten bitter-tasting quinoa, it’s most likely because the coating was not rinsed off.
- Put quinoa and water into a saucepan. When the water comes to a boil, cover the pot, and simmer the quinoa for 15-20 minutes. Your goal is slightly undercooked quinoa.
- Take it off the heat, put it aside, and let it cool. When the water is absorbed, but the quinoa is not quite translucent.
The Sushi Vinegar
You can buy sushi vinegar, but making your own is easy and lets you be in control of the ingredients.
Here are the three simple ingredients:
- ½ cup of rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoon salt
To make your own Sushi Vinegar, follow these steps:
- Add the vinegar, honey, and salt into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer so that the honey dissolves in the vinegar.
- When the quinoa is finished, stir in the sushi vinegar.
- Cover the quinoa and let it absorb the liquid.
Hopefully, while all this was going on, you prepared your fillings, so it’s time to get out the sushi mat, your nori, and roll your sushi.
Combining Quinoa and Rice
If you want to combine quinoa and rice, then a rice cooker will simplify the process. You’ll need the following:
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup of sushi rice
- 2 1/2 cups water. If this sounds odd, the water to rice ratio is one to one, but for quinoa, use a 2 to 1 ratio.
To cook quinoa and rice, follow these steps:
- Rinse both the quinoa and rice and add them to your rice cooker.
- Add water and start your cooker.
- While the quinoa rice cooks, prep your fillings.
- When the rice and quinoa are finished cooking, stir gently. If they stick together, the quinoa rice is ready.
You can let the quinoa rice cool in the cooker. If you cannot wait that long, put it into another container and stick it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Ingredients That Complement Quinoa Sushi
Although the fillings you can use are limited only by your imagination (and whether they can be rolled), quinoa sushi lends itself to vegetarian recipes. Also, it’s best to avoid ingredients that are difficult to cut through.
If you want to be creative or have veggies that need to be used up, these are some ingredients frequently used in quinoa sushi recipes:
- Avocado. This fruit—remember that fruits have a seed—shows up in so many recipes that it seems like it should be sold with nori sheets. Preparing an avocado involves cutting it, removing the seed, and peeling it. To use it, cut long, narrow strips.
- Cucumber. Chefs tend to peel cucumbers, although some prefer the added crunch. Cut into thin strips.
- Carrots. Peel and cut into thin strips. Or shred.
- Bell Peppers. Again, cut in long strips. Use raw, or why not roast them?
- Tofu. Make a spicy sauce with spicy mayonnaise or Sriracha to marinate tofu strips.
- Fish. Traditional Japanese sushi is light on raw veggies, but quinoa sushi calls out for veggies. Still, some people like to add fish, especially imitation crab meat.
Anything that you can cut into thin strips or shred can be used as a filling. If you want to use harder vegetables like beets or jicama, you should shred them. When you cut fillings, remember that they need to be long and narrow.
Quinoa Sushi Recipes
Once you have begun to experiment with fillings such as quinoa, don’t limit yourself.
Spicy Jicama Sushi
Here’s a creative recipe that uses jicama as the rice.
For this recipe, you will need:
- A large Jicama
- Bell peppers
- Sriracha sauce
Follow these directions:
- Cut the bell peppers in half, remove their seeds, and roast them. Then let them cool and remove the skins.
- Cut the roasted peppers into strips and coat them with the Sriracha.
- Peel the jicama and then chop it into small pieces.
- Toss them into a food processor and pulse until it is the consistency of rice.
- Dump onto a thin towel so that you can squeeze the moisture out.
- Add in a cup of cooked quinoa, a small amount of sushi vinegar, and stir.
Hint: When you roll your nori, be confident. When slicing the sushi, use a sharp, non-serrated knife. A wet blade helps to cut through the nori roll.
Chicken and Yam Sushi
This version has a distinctive American feel to it. Along with the quinoa sushi, you will need the following:
- A chicken bouillon cube
- Chicken breast (boneless and skinless)
- One large purple yam or sweet potato)
- Teriyaki sauce
- Olive oil
Follow these directions:
- When you make your quinoa sushi, add a bouillon cube to the water. Otherwise, prepare as usual.
- Cut chicken into strips. Marinate the chicken and ½ teriyaki sauce for half an hour.
- Fry the chicken in olive oil until it is cooked.
- Toss peeled yam cut into French fry strips with olive oil and salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Take out and let cool.
When everything is ready, assemble, and roll your sushi. Serve with soy sauce or sriracha mayo. For a traditional dip, have some pickled ginger or wasabi.
Making homemade sushi with quinoa is not as difficult as it might seem. By adding rice vinegar, your sushi will have an authentic taste. If you just must use rice, then cook the rice and quinoa in a rice cooker. Although they don’t have to be, quinoa sushi rolls tend to be on the vegetarian or vegan side.
Here are some of my favorite sushi making tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you find it useful as you make sushi at home. Here are some tools I’ve used that I hope you’ll find helpful, too. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, I will earn a commission. But honestly, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my family.
Rice cooker: For getting started, I really like Zojirushi Rice Cooker. The Zojirushi Rice cooker does not only make rice-cooking dirt simple, but it is a quality gadget that cooks better than most chefs can. Unlike most kitchen gadgets, it does not sacrifice quality for convenience.
Knife:The Kai Knife is one of the best sushi knives in the market. Made in Japan’s famous knife-making capital, Seki city.
- Oh My Veggies: Quinoa Sushi Rolls with Miso-Sesame Dipping Sauce
- Healthline: 11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa
- Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic Index for 60+ Foods
- Lazy Cat Kitchen: Veggie Quinoa Sushi
- Cheap Recipe Blog: How to Make Quinoa Sushi Rolls