Sushi Salad Hot or Cold

Serves 2-3
(No gluten, dairy, or cane sugar; with options for nightshades*)

It is a surprise when something light, balanced and healthful such as sushi becomes a fashion hit across demographics. This simple hot or cold rice main dish has many similar ingredients and flavours. Serve with sliced cucumber, steamed or baked beetroot. Uncharacteristically, basmati rice is used rather than short grain sushi rice. Long grain rice holds a distinct shape better so the salad doesn’t become wet and gluggy. The rice is boiled using the easier, stick-resistant, nutritionally superior absorption method.

Many patients ask me whether sushi is too starchy and light to be truly healthy. Meals and snacks are more about the relationship between the parts than the static qualities of any one ingredient. If you just ate a plate of white rice and nothing else, boredom might rise while blood sugar levels (related to mental and physical vitality) would tend to spike up and then plunge. But combine rice or other starches – as in this hearty salad – with enough soluble fibre (seaweed), insoluble fibre (vegetables, rice), protein (fish, seaweed), culinary acids (vinegar, pickled ginger), crunchy texture (sesame seeds, raw veg) and fat (sesame oil, fish) and you have a blood sugar-regulating winner. For more tasty and practical tips see my website HEALTH STORE for The Shape Diet, or my report: You Are Just A Few Steps Away From Peak Vitality.

2 Tbsp sesame seeds
¾ cup basmati or other long grain rice
1 small carrot, cubed
1 tsp chopped gingerroot
3 Tbsp chopped pickled ginger*
2 Tbsp wakame fronds or karengo seaweed* fronds
2 Tbsp tamari or other naturally fermented soy sauce*
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil*
1 small chilli chopped, or pinch horseradish or wasabi* powder (optional)
185 g tin plain tuna or salmon*, drained
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves
3 Tbsp chopped parsley

In a medium size heavy-bottom saucepan over low-medium heat, toast the sesame seeds (no fat is needed) until lightly brown and fragrant. Turn heat to high and add rice, 1¼ cups water, carrot and gingerroot. Cover and bring to a vigorous boil for about 4 minutes. Turn heat to low and cook briskly until almost all the water has been absorbed and just a light covering remains. Turn off the heat and cover the top of the saucepan with a towel. This will trap in the heat and finish the cooking without the rice sticking. Allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes – or longer if you are busy (the absorption method is forgiving).

In a small bowl combine pickled ginger, seaweed, soy sauce, vinegar, oil and chilli. Stir to combine and to let the seaweed rehydrate. When the rice is cooked combine with seaweed mixture and fish (refrigerate now if you want a cold salad). Immediately before serving hot or cold, stir in the onion, spinach and parsley.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Fish-tinned: buy plain varieties. Most ‘seasoned’ fish (and snack foods) include sugar, wheat, dairy, and artificial additives (which are also usually based in dairy, wheat, potato or soy).

• Ginger: most pickled ginger has artificial food colouring added. Mitoku and other quality brands (from health and specialty stores) use traditional shiso leaves for a natural pink colour.

• Seaweed: Top food source of soluble fibre and many minerals including calcium, iodine, manganese, and plant-based iron. Buy sushi sheets and rip into shreds to add to any moist food such as salad, soup, rice or pasta. Or buy locally harvested NZ karengo fronds or wakame fronds – tiny twists of seaweed available in health stores. These 3 types can be used without advance soaking. Kombu and other coarser seaweeds can be soaked, stored in the fridge if desired, squeezed and chopped as needed.

• Sesame Oil: when made from toasted sesame seeds has depth of flavour and a rich amber colour, which helps darken the pale rolls. Available in small bottles from supermarkets and Asian stores; Ceres brand is organic. Traditionally, sesame oil is used near the end of cooking. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see TIPS page: The Fats of Life.

• Soy sauce: can be a fake, unfermented chemical concoction of caramel colouring, artificial additives, wheat and cheap salt. True soy sauce contains nothing artificial and is naturally brewed for two to three years. It is made by fermenting soybeans with the help of a healthful mould (similar to making yoghurt); roasted grain – usually wheat or barley – for flavour and fermentation, plus salt. ‘Shoyu’ is the Japanese word for true fermented soy sauce. ‘Tamari’ describes naturally brewed soy sauce which does not contain wheat or other grain. In the supermarket look for organic Ceres brand, or plain only Kikkoman (their other varieties usually contain artificial additives including MSG: TIPS).

• Wasabi: similar to ginger, most wasabi is artificially coloured. Mitoku brand sells powdered wasabi (a type of horseradish) which can be mixed with a little water to instantly form a naturally green paste.

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