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I don’t mind seaweed in my sushi but sometimes I really feel that it overpowers the taste of other ingredients inside the rolls. While the Japanese may not imagine a sushi roll without seaweed, let’s not forget that this is an acquired taste. Some people take time to appreciate Nori and for others, it may be the taste spoiler!
So, I thought of researching different ways to make sushi without seaweed. Although it may make your sushi roll slightly non-traditional, there are quite a few substitutes for seaweed. You may use thin cucumber sheets, rice paper, soy wraps, or tofu skin. It is also possible to make your sushi without any external wrap, with just vinegared rice and the fillings.
Why Would You Need A Seaweed Substitute?
There maybe various reasons to look for a seaweed substitute. You may not like the taste of seaweed or it may not be easily available in your local grocery store. The seaweed tastes fishy or sea-like and not everyone develops a palate for it. Some people like sushi, but not the idea of rolling all the good stuff in a Nori sheet that is the first thing that touches the tongue.
If that sounds like you then you can try making sushi with different wrap alternatives that are not so overpowering in taste. They may make your sushi non-traditional but at least more eatable. Furthermore, these alternatives are easily available in the kitchen or a grocery store near you. Let’s take a look at the 7 different ways to make sushi without seaweed.
1. Using Cucumber Wraps To Make Sushi
Cucumber wraps are one of the most common and delicious substitutes for sushi rolls. As cucumbers are easily available and don’t have a strong flavor, they work as a good seaweed alternative for those who don’t like the fishy taste of seaweed.
To make a cucumber wrap for your sushi, you will need a fresh and firm cucumber, preferably medium size. Wash the cucumber with cool water and peel the outer skin using a vegetable peeler. Cut off both ends and discard them.
I would advise you to work on a stable surface to prevent the cucumber from slipping. Now, take a sharp knife like this to cut out a thin layer of the cucumber. Moisten the knife to help it glide through the cucumber with ease.
To start cutting, insert the moistened sharp knife ¼ of a centimeter into the cucumber and slowly slide the knife blade to get a thin layer. Keep cutting out layers until you reach the middle section of the cucumber that contains seeds. Discard it.
An important tip – Keep a bowl of water close to you as you work on the cucumber to moisten the knife in between. This helps the knife slide easily and gives you a smooth and even cut.
2. Using Rice paper To Make Sushi
If you love sushi but don’t like wrapping it up in black-green seaweed, let me show you another interesting way – roll them up in rice paper. Rice paper like this has no taste and they are used in Vietnamese dishes to make delicious summer rolls. Hence, they can also work as a perfect wrap for sushi.
Rice paper is easy to roll and you don’t need a bamboo mat for this. However, the rice papers come dried so you need to first prepare them to be used as the base. The rice papers are dipped in warm water (you may also use cold water if you like)to make them ready for sushi.
Water softens the rice paper and makes it easy to roll sushi rice and other ingredients it. Let the rice paper soak in water for at least 30 minutes before you start using it. Make sure you do not let the paper over soak water as this will make it difficult to roll.
Another advantage of using rice paper is that they can stay fresh for three to five days if stored inside a sealed container in a refrigerator. You will need to bring them to room temperature before eating and if they are too hard, just sprinkle some warm water to soften the rolls.
What are rice papers made from?
These super thin wrappers are made from rice and salt mixed with water. They are so translucent in appearance that you can almost see through them. I also like the texture that feels a bit chewier when you bite your sushi roll.
Tips for buying rice paper to make sushi rolls
• You must avoid buying rice papers made with tapioca as they are difficult to wrap. I recommend the ones made purely from rice or a mix of rice and tapioca.
• Rice papers are supposed to be gluten-free. If a package reads wheat as an ingredient, it is probably a translation error.
• Choose the rice wrapper size that says 8 1/2 inch because they are easier to roll with when compared with the smaller sized papers.
• If you find multiple options for a rice paper brand, always opt for the high price done. They are not very expensive anyway so 50 cents extra for better quality won’t matter much.
• After you have opened the package, transfer the remaining rice papers into
3. Using Soy Wraps To Make Sushi
If you are not a great fan of seaweed wraps, you are in for luck as there are many substitutes available in the market now than they were some 10 years ago. Although cucumber wraps and rice papers are common alternatives, soy wraps are also a healthy and tasty option.
The first ever soy wraps like this were white in color and had black sesame seeds on them. Today you can find them in different color and flavor options. The texture feels the same as you would find in a local sushi joint and they tear easily as you take a bite of the sushi.
The soy wraps are primarily made from compressed soya beans and these wrappers are known as
These types of rolls are versatile and calorie-free. They are often available in colorful options so you can be creative with your sushi rolls. The soy wraps are rich in protein hence they enhance the nutritional value of any dish they are added to.
As these wraps are gluten-free, they are also suitable for vegetarians who are averse the fishy smell of seaweed. Although they are available in various attractive colors, they do not use artificial coloring. Instead, natural food and plant extracts are used to lend an attractive hue to them.
Some of the popular brands for soy wraps are Yama Moto Soy Wrappers and Mango Origami SoyWrap. The added flavor further enhances the taste of sushi to appeal to those who are new to trying sushi and not prepared to enjoy the sea-salt flavor in seaweed wraps.
4. Using Tofu Skin To Make Sushi
One of the many things I like about sushi is that there are so many different ways to make them. You can experiment with a variety of toppings, fillings, and of course the outer wrap. Another popular way to make sushi without seaweed is using tofu skin. This type of sushi is known as Inari sushi in Japanese. They are fun to eat and easy to make.
To make this type of sushi, you will need seasoned fried tofu pouches and vinegared sushi rice. The tofu wraps (shop now) can be bought from any Asian grocery store that sells Korean or Japanese products. You will mostly find frozen tofu pouches, but some store may carry fresh wraps.
What is tofu skin made from?
Tofu skin (inari) is often known by different names such as yuba, bean curd sheet, bean curd skin, or bean curd robes. These wraps are made from soybeans. Although this is not technically proper tofu, it is called so because it has a similar texture and flavor as tofu. They are mostly sold as dried sheets or leaves to be used in different Asian cuisines.
How to use tofu skin to make sushi
First, you need to prepare seasoned sushi rice by adding some black(white) sesame seeds to it. Moisten your hands and take a handful of sushi rice. Make a small rice ball that can easily fit into the tofu pouch. You may choose to put the open end down on the plate or garnish the open end with shiso leaves and sliced veggies. For more info: What Is Inari Sushi And How To Make It A Home
5. Using Collard Greens To Make Sushi Without Seaweed
Here’s another interesting way to make sushi without having to wrap it with seaweed. I found this amazing recipe from a friend and food blogger. According to him, you can try making sushi with collard greens as wraps. This is a cruciferous vegetable that is a rich source of vitamin K and tastes really good. It is also known to protect you against cancer, so it’s a good addition to your diet.
Unlike seaweed, collard greens have a mild flavor and the strong leaves are good enough for wrapping sushi. Although this tastes great, please remember that the rolls will not hold together as well as seaweed. Therefore, you must be careful while cutting and serving them.
To use collard greens for making sushi, make sure you choose the largest leaves,de-stem them and wash with water. Lay down leaves on the bamboo mat and filling it with sushi rice and other ingredients just as you do in a traditional roll. Leave out an inch at both ends.
Take a sharp knife, moisten it with water and cut off the ends first. Then make 6-8 slices of the roll and serve sushi with some delicious sauce.
6. Origami Wraps Made From Fruit And Vegetable Puree
With the rising popularity of sushi across the world, people looking for different ways to adapt to sushi as per their taste. As a result, many manufacturers have come up with substitutes for seaweed. One interesting and delicious alternative is the origami wrap like this made from the puree of fruits and vegetables.
These wraps can be bought online and they can add brilliant colors to your sushi. According to the manufacturer, the color and taste may vary depending upon the crop and seasonal changes. Here are some of the popular origami flavors:
Mango Origami Wraps are made from fruit and vegetable purees. The flavor resembles that of ripe tropical mango with the fresh tang of chipotle pepper. They are vegan and gluten-free substitutes for seaweed.
Carrot Ginger Origami Wraps (see Amazon) taste like fresh and sweet carrots with the spiciness of ginger. They are healthy and vegan alternatives to Nori wraps used in sushi rolls. These wraps are gaining popularity in restaurants that serve non-traditional sushi.
The Barbeque Origami wraps are my personal favorite. It has a tangy and sweet tomato flavor base with a hint of mesquite and hickory. These are vegan, healthy, and gluten-free substitutes to adding seaweed for making sushi.
Related Article: 8 Exciting Recipes For Vegetarian Sushi
7. Making Sushi Without Seaweed Wrap
This is another classic way to make sushi without seaweed wrap or any other wrapper. I often try this recipe when I run out of Nori sheets but need to make some to satisfy that incessant craving.
For this recipe, you will need to make seasoned sushi rice in the traditional way. Make thin slices of cucumber (de-seeded and julienne cut), bell papers and avocado for fillings. When the sushi rice is ready, follow the steps given below:
• Place the bamboo mat on an even surface
• Put a plastic sheet over the mat and apply a layer of sushi rice on top of it.
• Use a spoon to make an even layer of the rice. Dip your hand in warm water so that rice does not stick on your hands
• Use the bamboo mat to roll the layer of sushi rice to wrap it completely
• Take a sharp knife and carefully cut the roll into pieces and put a thin slice of raw salmon fish over it.
• You may sprinkle some chia seeds for garnish and serve the sushi with soya sauce.
A tip -Sushi rolls are usually cut into 8 pieces at the restaurant. Since we don’t have any wrapper holding the roll here, it is convenient and less messy to cut them into 6 pieces.
Nori seaweed is an important ingredient in sushi, so even though I like the different substitutes, I would insist that you don’t give up on Nori entirely. It often takes some time to develop a taste for it but once you start liking it, there’s nothing like traditional Japanese sushi rolled in the goodness of seaweed.
If you still don’t like the taste of sushi, try out one of the 7 interesting ways to make sushi without seaweed. The options mentioned above are not only healthy but also delicious. If you find another interesting substitute for seaweed, don’t forget to share it with us!