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Sushi is a highly-popular food choice, both in the East and in the West. It is a low-fat, low calorie meal and made with nutritious ingredients such as fish, rice and vegetables. One main ingredient is cold, pre-cooked, vinegar-flavored white rice. Which makes a person wonder, “Can you make sushi with brown rice”?
Can you make sushi with brown rice? Yes, you can make sushi with brown rice. In fact, it makes sushi an even healthier food choice as it contains fiber-rich, whole grains. However, this version is not always considered to be ‘real’ sushi.
Serious sushi eaters believe that rolls made with brown rice instead of short-grain white rice is not real sushi. Mori Onodera, one-time chef and owner of Mori Sushi in Los Angeles has said that “the perfect sushi roll means balancing the flavors and textures of the rice on the outside and the fish, vegetables and egg on the inside.” He concludes that brown rice “upsets that delicate balance”. Let’s explore both the pros and cons of using brown rice for sushi in more detail below…
Is Sushi with Brown Rice Healthy?
Brown rice sushi is an excellent, healthy alternative to traditional sushi made with white rice. In addition to the high-fiber benefit of a whole grain rice, it is also easier to use! White rice is delicate and requires a lot of rinsing and fanning to be sushi-ready.
White rice is basically a source of ‘empty’ calories and carbohydrates, with very little nutrient value. One hundred grams of white rice has only 0.4 grams of fiber whereas the same amount of brown rice has 1.8 grams of fiber.
Because brown rice is a whole grain with both the bran and germ intact, it contains more vitamins and minerals (including vitamin B6, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, thiamine and zinc) than white rice, which is a refined grain that has these nutrient-rich parts removed. Brown rice is also higher in antioxidants than white rice.
Is Brown Rice Sticky?
Sticky rice is a staple in sushi-making. Brown rice can be prepared in a way that it is sticky and suitable for sushi. The way to do this is to use less water and cook for a longer period of time. Adding vinegar and a bit of sugar will also increase the stickiness of brown rice and make it easier to work with.
How to Make Brown Rice Sushi
Brown rice sushi is both easy and fun to make. Below is a recipe that is sure to please even the most serious of sushi eaters! The eight necessary steps include the following
- Pre-cook 2 cups of brown rice in a saucepan, cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Drain excess water and leave in the saucepan.
- Make vinegar mixture by heating 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons of organic sugar and ½ teaspoon of sea salt in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Add the vinegar mixture to the rice in the saucepan over low heat, stirring with a rubber spatula. You will know it is ready when the rice is sticky and completely dry. Do not overmix.
- Prepare the vegetables by chopping them into thinly-sliced pieces (1 ripe avocado, 1 cup of julienne-cut carrots, 1 cup of julienne-cut cucumbers, 1 cup of alfalfa sprouts)
- Grab a sushi mat like this and top with a sheet of nori or seaweed. Dip your hands in water and place a thin layer of brown rice over the nori.
- Add a generous serving of vegetables, lining the bottom ¾ of the rice.
- Start to roll the nori with your fingers. You should be able to make at least four rolls.
- Slice with a serrated knife, and serve immediately with pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi on the side. Don’t forget the chopsticks!
This is a hearty, healthy meal that is low in both fat and calories. It is rich in vegetable nutrients, crunchy, tender, filling and very delicious. A great alternative to a salad for a quick, ready-to-go lunch!
Sushi with Brown Rice Benefits
There are many health benefits to using brown rice instead of white rice in sushi-making. These include the following:
- Reduces the risk of diabetes. Brown rice is a whole-grain, fiber-rich food and therefore helps to control blood sugar levels.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight. Brown rice is lower in calories than white rice. It is also high in fiber which helps to lower your glycemic index, stabilizing insulin levels and making it easier to lose or maintain weight.
- Rich in essential nutrients. Packed full of healthy minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium as well vitamin B6, brown rich is a nutritious addition to any diet.
- Protects against heart disease. Brown rice contains phenolic acids which are a plant compound that helps protect the heart due to their antioxidant properties. It helps reduce inflammation in the arteries which is essential for heart health.
- Improves digestion. The fiber in brown rice is what keeps your digestive system working properly. It also keeps your energy level high.
In addition to the health benefits, brown rice can also make it easier to prepare sushi, as white rice tends to require much more prep work (such as rinsing and fanning). Brown rice can be cooked to sticky consistency, just like white rice, with a unique taste and texture. So no matter what type of sushi you prefer, be it temaki, nigiri or sashimi, why not try it with brown rice instead?
Sushi with Brown Rice Disadvantages
There are some disadvantages to using brown rice in sushi-making. The most obvious being the altered flavor profile. Oftentimes, the earthy, fiber-rich properties in brown rice can overpower the delicate fish taste, instead of complimenting it like white rice tends to do.
Another disadvantage is the change in texture. Brown rice, even when cooked, tends to be firmer than white rice. In good sushi, the rice and fish component should have a ‘melt in your mouth’ feel which is not possible with brown rice. With brown rice, it seems you must chew, chew, chew in order to enjoy!
And yet another disadvantage is the lack of tradition. Real Japanese sushi is made with pre-cooked, cold, vinegar-flavored white rice, never brown. If you are a serious sushi eater, you will want to stick with the authentic style, in keeping with true Japanese cuisine.
Real sushi-chefs believe that the fish should be tender and the rice should be soft, no exceptions. Therefore, many true sushi eaters prefer white rice over brown rice. It all comes down to your own personal preferences and unique sense of taste.
Brown Rice Sushi vs White Rice Sushi
Brown rice has long been considered the healthy alternative to white rice. But when it comes to sushi, the fact remains that it is not nearly as tasty. According to top-rated sushi chefs, the ideal sushi is one that balances both taste and texture of each ingredient used, from the rice and fish to the vegetables and condiments.
Brown rice, even when after cooked, will still have a firmer texture than white rice. It is this texture that tends to overpower the delicate taste of the fish, such as tuna or salmon, and ruin the flavor profile of the sushi. The only fish that can balance out the firmness of brown rice is tempura-fried shrimp (see how to make it) with a heavy heap of spicy mayo added to it. This greatly increases both the fat and calorie count in the roll, thereby negating many of the health benefits associated with brown rice.
White rice, with regard to flavor and texture, is much better in sushi. It is softer and compliments the lighter-tasting, often raw fish used. The health problems associated with white rice comes after the delicious roll has been consumed. White rice converts quickly to sugar, which is a major cause of both weight gain and diabetes.
The determining factor of whether to choose brown or white rice depends upon your overall health. If you exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet, then indulging in some white rice sushi now and then will not be a problem. Just be sure to compensate by adding vegetables and lean protein.
How Many Carbs are in Brown Rice Sushi?
Depending on what type of sushi roll you get, calorie count will vary. On average, a typical eight-piece vegetable and brown rice sushi roll contains approximately 240 calories with an average of 20 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of fat. To burn off this meal, you would have to cycle for 36 minutes! That’s just a fun fact for you to ponder the next time you enjoy a brown rice sushi roll.
What is Hukkura Rice?
Hukkura rice is a high-quality Koshihikari brown rice that is more nutritious than white rice. It is often used in Japanese cooking and is usually available at your local supermarket. It cooks quickly and easily, just like white rice, and is just as fluffy and delicious! This can be used to make sushi in lieu of the traditional white variety.
Sushi is a highly-popular meal, not only in Asia but in North America as well. In search of healthier alternatives, chefs and novices alike are opting for brown rice instead of white rice as a staple ingredient in sushi-making. It is rich in fiber, highly nutritious and very filling! Why not try a temaki or California roll made with brown rice today? It is sure to delight the taste buds and provide a unique sushi-eating experience. ‘Bon apetit’ or ‘Itadakimasu’ in Japanese!