In Japan, people live longer and healthier than everyone else on the planet!!! The average lifespan is six years beyond that in North American. The obesity rate is 6% compared to 40% here. There are many valuable lessons we can learn from the eating style in the land of the rising sun. Traditional meals include plenty of healthy fish, vegetables and soy foods. (#HalfPlateAsVegetables). Even dessert is lighter than our typically rich fare. Japanese desserts often include an assortment of seasonal fruit, peeled, artistically sliced and arranged on an attractive plate. Western desserts like ice cream and cakes are also enjoyed, but in much smaller portions and subtler flavours than many of us are used to. We can also learn a lot from Japan when it comes to a major threat to our health – distorted, over-sized food portions. The Japanese serve very tasty foods in attractive, small dishes that satisfy visually and in taste. In Japan they eat 25% fewer daily calories than North Americans.
Japanese chefs are absolute masters at creating delicious food that almost looks too much like a work of art to eat. We can be inspired by these masters and bring the health and taste benefits into meals we make at home. An easy, nutritious food to add variety to meals, and one that is right on trend in 2017, is seaweed. These two recipes use nori (the seaweed sheets). They’re attractive and very easy to create. No sushi mats or special equipment required.
Sushi Salad Makes 8 servings, pictured above
All the flavour of sushi quickly assembled into an attractive salad. Makes a great base for a grilled prawn or beef kushiyaki (skewer).
- 4 cups cooked short grain, sushi rice
- 1 large carrot, grated or peeled into thin strips
- 1 long English cucumber, cut in julienne strips
- 1 medium avocado, sliced thinly
- 1 tin crab meat (120 g)
- 4 green onions, sliced diagonally
- 2 Tbsp pickled ginger, chopped
- 2 sheets nori seaweed
- 1/3 cup salad dressing of choice or vinaigrette of rice vinegar and sesame oil
- wasabi and sesame seeds, optional garnish
- In a large bowl, combine rice, carrot, cucumber, avocado, crab, green onion and ginger.
- Using kitchen scissors, cut seaweed into small strips or squares. Add to salad.
- Pour dressing over and toss to combine.
- If desired, garnish with wasabi and sesame seeds.
Easy California Sushi Rolls Makes 8 rolls
Vary these with different fillings: panfried prawns, tuna, salmon, yams, egg and more
- 1 cup uncooked, short grain, sushi rice (white or brown)
- 2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 8 nori (seaweed sheets)
- 2 Tbsp Japanese-style or light mayonnaise
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 pkg cooked crab or crab-flavoured pollock, about 1 cup
- sodium-reduced soy sauce, wasabi and ginger, optional garnishes
- Prepare rice according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Stir in rice vinegar. (Rice can be prepared up to a day in advance and kept in the fridge.)
- Place nori sheets on counter. Spread the bottom 1/3 of the sheet with a thin layer of rice. Spread with a little bit of the mayonnaise. Top with slices of avocado and crab the width of the nori sheet.
- Carefully begin rolling up the nori like a carpet or burrito. Slowly roll tightly as you go. When you are about 1 inch from the end, lightly moisten the remaining nori with water and continue rolling to seal the roll. Set aside and repeat with remaining nori sheets and ingredients. Rolls can be refrigerated whole, up to overnight, until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, slice into pieces as thick or thin as you like – typically about 8 slices per roll.
- Serve garnished with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger if desired.