May 3, 2010

Sushi Me

Go ahead. Dig right in and take your pick of the sodium-free sushi you see before you.  Handmade by yours truly.

I know what you’re thinking. Sushi? But that’s super high in sodium? And you’re right to wonder what I’m doing with a fistful of rice-y rounds as most sushi, that you will find at your favorite neighborhood haunt, does contain an enormous amount of sodium.  This is because most nori (or seaweed) is high in sodium and traditional sushi rice is made with water, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Then add in soy sauce for dipping and you’ve got yourself a Japanese salt lick. But, as with many foods, it is quite simple to make low sodium adjustments at home and meet your sushi cravings without all the salt.

Now, if you like what you see above, but think that it takes skill (ha!) or extensive training abroad, let me tell you this: I’ve never been to Japan (although I’m dying to go…hint.hint.hint) and I’ve actually never taken a single sushi making class in my life. Clearly, if you are going to work behind a glass-counter bar at some of the hottest sushi spots in the world, you’ll have to subscribe to years of instruction in order to master the art of making maki.  But if you are simpy trying to fill a delicacy desire, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty (or more appropriately, sticky).

These savory bites only require a few simple steps and some traditional tools. And with a few pointers, care of my good friend Lisa – who practically had every birthday dinner at the local sushi spot growing up – you will be able to rice, rattle, and roll on your own, creating a platter full of delectable, raw-fish nibbles that are Sodium Girl safe. So pick up some fish and get that rice steaming and remember, if there is something that seems low sodium impossible, there’s usually a way to make it work.

Chow on.


  • 2 cups sushi or short grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Package of no sodium nori sheets
  • No sodium wasabi powder (just mix with water to create paste)
  • Sushi fillings: raw fish, avocado, apple, mango, asparagus, sliced cucumber, sliced bell pepper, green onions
  • No salt added Furikake and/or sesame seeds


1. Since we are not going for traditional sushi here, I usually skip the whole “rice rinsing” procedure and put the rice and water directly into the rice cooker.

2. Once it is done, transfer the fluffy rice to a bowl and mix in the sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil.  Then transfer to a cookie sheet and spread thin, so the rice can cool.

3. While rice is taking a time-out to lose its heat, prep your sushi filling. You want your veggies to be thinly sliced and easy to munch on (so if you are using asparagus, give it a quick boil first to soften). And don’t be afraid to use your imagination and be fearless with the ingredients you have sitting in your fridge. If you are using raw fish, take a trip to your local Japanese market as they usually have prepackaged cuts of sushi-grade tuna, yellowtail, and salmon – all low in sodium. If you want to go to your local grocer, just ask if the fish is sushi grade.  If it is not, soak in a citrus marinade and give it a quick sear in a pan to kill any bacteria.

4. Now that the rice and “stuffing” are prepped, it is time to get your rolling station ready. Pick up some bamboo sushi rollers – they will be very cheap at your local Asian market – and cover them with saran wrap.

5. Lay down a piece of nori (rough side up) and cover with a layer of sushi rice, patting and spreading the rice. It is exponentially easier if your hands are slightly wet. Shake some sesame seeds or furikake on the rice and flip over, so rice is touching the saran wrap.

6. Begin to line your sushi filling lengthwise, parallel to the rolling side.  For reference, in the picture above, I was rolling from left to right. You want to make sure that, when you begin to roll, you cover your ingredients. Think of it as a nori wave crashing over your avocados.

7. Once ingredients are in, lift up the edge of the bamboo roller and begin to roll away from you, tucking the nori over the sushi filling. Press down slightly on the seam in order to keep the roll tight and repeat this process until you reach the end of the nori sheet. If it doesn’t stick, add some rice or a little water to act as glue.

8. Wet a sharp knife and slice the roll into rounds. Serve with the wasabi or you can even make your own spicy mustard.

waiwa May 3, 2010 at 9:59 am

neat. notice you’re using a wusthof chef’s knife. do you own or recommend any other types of knives? thanks!

sodium girl May 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Hi Waiwa! I love all your questions. I also have some Shun Chef Knifes which, when brand new and freshly sharpened, are perfect for slicing sushi. They are made of stainless steel, which holds an edge longer than other knifes. But no matter what kind of cutlery you own, just make sure it is sharp!

Anne May 3, 2010 at 10:13 am

Perfect! My friend is having a sushi making party tonight so will forward this to her.

sodium girl May 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Awesome! I love a good sushi party!

Beki October 2, 2010 at 7:38 pm

love this!! I am on the crazy low sodium diet – mandatory, and love sushi…now I can still have it – and probably soooo much healther ingeneral than the restaraunt.

Thank you!

Richelle September 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Thanks so much for this. I love this recipe. We love this rice.

Jaynie January 26, 2016 at 6:35 pm

Saw this, this morning. I was so excited I made it for dinner. And I am less then a cook. I can barely cool scrambled eggs. But I made this for dinner and everyone loved it it was so amazing I’m going to make it again! Thank you!!!

Jill March 14, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Hi! Your recipe looks great! I’ll have to try it!

On a related note, I’m trying to research sushi that I can order at a restaurant when out with family. I see your comment that most nori contains high amounts of sodium. Do you know what the range typically is? In reading ingredient labels for many different types I have yet to find one with a significant amount of sodium.

Trying to make sure I’m not missing something before I order sushi in a restaurant (I’ve made sure the rice will be unsalted and the only fillers will be lo-so fish like tuna or salmon and avocado or cucumber – no mayo or sauce). You seem to know a lot about this lo-so business so I’d appreciate your opinion! Thank you!

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