Sometimes I get downright giddy about recipes. Like this salmon roll grain bowl; it just makes me happy! A few reasons I enjoy making this dish is a) it’s easy, b) it’s healthy c) it’s a hassle-free way to enjoy salmon at home and d) it reminds me of all my favorite parts about sushi without the trouble of trying to make sushi at home. Going out for sushi is really what inspired this meal, combining my love for healthy grains and homemade dressings while also trying to honor my effort to stick to that whole January “detox” kinda thing.
Just like I did with my southwestern grain bowlfrom earlier this month, I combined brown rice and quinoa to start. As I also mentioned in that post, grains need flavor, which is why I like to toss them with some kind of dressing. I decide to make a carrot-ginger dressing, similar to the salads you get at sushi restaurants before your meal. Good, right?!
I’ll be straight forward with you, this dressing recipe is rarely the same twice. Depending on how “earthy” or sweet your carrots taste, or how pungent the fresh ginger is, you may need to add a little more of this or that. The key is to keep tasting and adjust as necessary until you get the perfect balance that tastes great to you. Rice vinegar is mild and the sugar helps balance off the sometimes bitterness in the carrots, so add a little more or less to suit your taste. Everything gets blended in my Vitamix, but you could use a food processor instead.
Toss the grains with as much of the dressing as tastes good to you, then start adding the toppings. My new favorite time-saving “hack” here is using a filet of “smoke roasted” salmon from the grocery store, which you can find right where they sell the smoked/cured/lox salmon. I opt for a filet portion rather than the sliced style and then to serve it, I simply flake it into smaller pieces and arrange it on top of the grains. I mean, how is that for easy?? No cooking required, yet the smoking gives it so much flavor and moisture.
In addition to the salmon, I also add cucumber and avocado, both of which happen to be things I enjoy in my sushi. So get creative, and think about your favorite sushi fillings to use on your grain bowl.
For me, the most crucial parts of a sushi meal are the soy, wasabi and seaweed. Funny story – as a kid, my dad lived in Asia. We always had sheets of nori, or seaweed, in his house. I don’t know why exactly we had them, as I don’t remember anyone besides me eating them, but they were always a favorite snack of mine all the way back then. I can remember walking around his house in Tokyo noshing on nori, literally. I still do the same thing today, since now we can buy them in perfectly portioned little snack packs at grocery stores right here in the states. My how far we’ve come!
So, to get that seaweed fix, I use a shaker of seaweed “confetti” and sesame seeds that I keep on hand – easily found at any Asian grocery store, or you can just tear up full nori sheets. Lastly, for that soy-wasabi punch, I dissolve some wasabi in soy sauce, just like when I eat sushi, but then I stir in some mayo to help it take on a more dressing-like quality. Drizzle some over the top, and you have the most delicious sushi-roll finishing touch!
And, as they would say in Japan – Oishii desu ne! [It is delicious!]
All my favorite flavors of a salmon-avocado sushi roll tossed together in a healthy, wasabi-and-ginger-packed quinoa-rice bowl.
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
about 1/2 cup of sliced or diced cucumber
1–2 sheets of seaweed, torn or finely chopped
2–3 teaspoons toasted or black sesame seeds
4-ounce filet of smoked salmon
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
For the Carrot-Ginger Dressing – Makes about 2 cups:
2 cups grated carrots, about 2 medium carrots peeled
2 1-inch cubes of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
For the Wasabi-Soy Dressing:
1/4–1 teaspoon wasabi paste (To taste!)
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Use the grater attachment on a food processor to grate the carrot. Change to the blade attachment, then add back the grated carrot along with the minced ginger, garlic clove, sugar and rice vinegar to the bowl. Turn on the motor and process until fairly smooth, then slowly drizzle in oil. Check taste and adjust as necessary. If it’s too “earthy” or bitter, add more sugar. If it tastes too oily, add more vinegar. If the ginger isn’t punchy enough, add more. Adjust until it suits your taste.
Toss quinoa and rice in a bowl with the carrot ginger dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In another small bowl, mix to together the wasabi and soy sauce until wasabi is totally dissolved. Then, stir in mayo.
To build the bowl, place the dressed grains in a salad bowl or serving dish. Slice or dice the cucumbers and arrange on top along with diced avocado. Flake the salmon filet into pieces and arrange on top. Drizzle the wasabi-mayo dressing over the top, then sprinkle with sesame seeds and seaweed flakes. Serve and enjoy!
Any grains can work here, from quinoa and rice to farro or barley, or even pearl couscous.