I’ve encountered a number of people who have told me that they don’t like sushi because they dislike the taste of seaweed (edible seaweed wraps are known as nori in Japanese). A desire to bring sushi to these individuals inspired me to develop a nori free option. I admit that these rolls do not have the same taste as ones made with nori. A warning as well is that the rolls will not hold together as well as rolls made with nori, so be careful when eating them. I have drizzled a bit of soy sauce over the rolls instead of dipping them to reduce the chance of the rolls unravelling. I personally find these collard green “sushi” rolls to be extremely delicious.
These rolls are also very healthy. Collard greens are a cruciferous vegetable, and cruciferous vegetables have a reputation of protecting individuals against cancer. Collard greens contain glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin, which are responsible for the cancer preventive properties of collard greens. One cup of collard greens also contains much more than your daily requirements of vitamin K, and is a very good source of vitamin A and folate.
Collard greens contain glucobrassicin which can be converted into indole-3-carbinol (I3C). I3C is both an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compound. Dietary I3C may help to prevent the development of estrogen dependent cancers such as breast, endometrial, and cervical cancers. I3C also provides nutritional support for liver detoxification and helps to support female reproductive health. It helps to regulate female hormones through the metabolism of estrogen in the liver, helping to maintain proper estrogen ratios.
Collard greens, unlike kale, have a very mild flavour. The broad, strong leaves are also ideal for wrapping items in. Collard green leaves make an excellent substitute for bread, adding both nutrition and a gluten free option for those that need it.
I’ve made these sushi rolls using brown rice because it is more nutritious. You’re welcome to make this recipe with sushi rice if that is your preference. To substitute brown rice for white, you need to make sure you use a short grain rice. Also mixing the rice vinegar in with the rice brings out the starches in the rice, causing it to bind together.
- 1 cup short grain brown rice
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- Approximately a half bunch of collard green leaves
- 2 avocados, cut into slices
- 1 cucumber, cut into matchstick pieces (0.5cm width, which is approximately ¼ inch)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
- 3 green onions, cut into matchstick pieces
- Horseradish root, shaved inner portion (amount to taste, optional)
1) Rinse rice well and bring to a boil with 2 cups water, then reduce heat to very low. Cover tightly and simmer until water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let rice stand, covered for 10 minutes.
2) Prepare your vegetables by cutting them into matchstick size pieces about 0.5cm (¼ inch or so) in width, and 6.5cm (2.5 inches) in length. The size doesn’t have to be perfect, it is more important to make your ingredients a consistent size so that one doesn’t bulge out or overpower. You can also add different vegetables to suit your taste and what you have available.
3) Transfer rice to a wide nonmetal bowl (wood, ceramic, or glass) and add the rice vinegar. Mix gently with a large spoon to combine. Cool rice, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.
4) Wash and destem the collard greens. Choose the largest leaves for making the rolls. Lay down the leaf and spread the rice over the middle of the leaf in a thin layer. Lay a few pieces of each ingredient down length-wise on the rice in the centre.
5) Use your thumb and forefinger to pick up the edge of the leaf closest to you. Carefully roll the leaf away from you, using your other fingers to try to keep the ingredients within the roll. Make the roll as tight as you can. A sushi mat could be useful, but is not necessary to roll these (I didn’t use one). Watch videos on how to roll sushi to get an idea if you’re not sure how to do it.
6) Using a sharp knife carefully cut the rolls into pieces. I found that the rolls on the end were lacking in stuffing and didn’t create nice rolls. (Feel free to snack on the end pieces.)
7) Carefully transfer pieces to a plate and serve with some pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce (gluten free ). If you added the shaved horseradish to your roll, I’d suggest not using wasabi.
Note: If you can’t get the rolls quite right these make tasty wraps. I also added shaved horseradish in my rolls instead of using wasabi because most wasabi has food colouring in it that I’d like to avoid. Horseradish will also offer that lovely sinus clearing sensation that wasabi offers.