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Making substitutes for sushi nori

 
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Making sushi stuff for dinner, looking at the nori, I'm thinking of making something else out of what I can grow in a Midwest climate that is similar.

Wikipedia says

The finished dried sheets are made by a shredding and rack-drying process that resembles papermaking.



That sounds basic enough. A fruit roll up!  Seriously, shredded and dehydrated into thin sheets, that's not complex.
I have a leafy wild broccoli that I may try.

I'm wondering if anyone has done this, and if so, what plants did you use?
 
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I've never made it, but I remember reading a thoroughly-tested and much used recipe that said it helps to have some mucilaginous greens in there to help the sheet hold together. The recipe I saw was zucchini based, with lots of different greens mixed in, but more purslane than anything else. They just blended it all up, rather than shredding, and dehydrated sheets of it. If you don't have mucilaginous greens, you could use okra instead of zucchini, I bet. I've never had fish mint, but I imagine including it in your greens mix might make the end result taste more seaweedy.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Me and mom were talking, we think mixing stuff like nasturtium leaves for spicy might be neat.
 
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Wow, what an endeavor!!
I don't dehydrate so my approach would be more to substitute.... I sometimes make sushi with collard greens. Helps if you have a nice strong filling, which balances out the taste of the collard (miso/scallion is a good choice). If your rice is steamin' hot it will make the collard a bit softer.
You could also use any kind of green leafy that can roll (we use our local taioba, an elephant-ear type thing).
Other options could include thin omelet, thin chickpea-flour crepe (they sometimes crack, can't remember how to remedy that). Not going to get that nice nori taste or crunch, but it keeps things together at least. You could also mix your fillings with your rice to make rice balls (onigiri). Not sure what you're filling your sushi with, chirashizushi (all the ingredients in a bowl, that you mix as you eat) is another non-nori-roll option.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Tereza: I do dehydrate, and part, I think, of why nori was made up was to preserve green veggies to eat later. I  have dried and powdered them to put into my protein shakes. Making wrap type things out it seems useful too, since that's one of my favorite ways to eat rice and other grains.

I have used whole leaves for wraps, but that depends on fresh greens being available, whereas these could be made when greens are plentiful and used at will.

Me and mom are still playing with the idea of many different flavors of wrappers.... We like that concept.

:D
 
Tereza Okava
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If I were to try to make an amalgam-type mix of greens for a dehydrated wrap, I would also agree with the tasty greens mentioned above- a mix of arugula and something milder (romaine? turnip greens?) sounds nice. If you like bitter, dandelion or chicory, also mixed with something less tasty.
Another idea is to use a lettuce with strips of something more interesting in it. I think lettuce would dehydrate in an interesting way that would work well for a wrap (I'm imagining a texture almost like a rice paper skin from Vietnamese cooking).

I'm still thinking about kale chips. Kale chips, crunched down, would make a FINE substitute for aonori (wee bits of nori for sprinkling). Of course kale chips never last that long in my house.....

Keep us updated! I want to see what you come up with!
 
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Maybe for those mucilaginous parts, wildcrafting some mallow leaves would work?
 
Pearl Sutton
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If I felt like planting Malabar spinach, the mucilaginousness (is that a word?) is why I didn't care for it.
 
Carla Burke
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Mucilage has its purposes. Think 'the problem is the solution'. Moist, it acts as a lubricant - either thinning or thickening other liquids or mucilage. Dry, it acts as an adhesive. So, we use it in tea, to loosen phlegm, or to coat and sooth a dry, scratchy throat, or an upset digestive system. In cooking, mucilaginous plants work great, for thickening soups, stews, or even jams and jellies - think agar agar, konjac root, chia, or flax seed. In fact, flax seed, moistened and pressed together, adheres so well, they make crackers of nothing but the seeds, moisture, and a little salt. So, I'd imagine you could use any of those to glue your faux-nori together, too.
 
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Not exactly midwestern, but now I'm wondering how prickly pear would work.  Totally muc... er... slimy.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Oh, actually, reading Carla's post, sassafras leaves are called "Filé" when used to thicken gumbo, if okra isn't available.
Filé powder
Lots of sassafras trees around here!
 
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I'd recommend checking out growing green (or red) Shiso, as a possibility. I think it might grow fairly well in your climate (I'm more south and hotter, and it struggles a bit here).

Green shiso was traditionally used in Japan, in the past, the same way sushi nori is used today, actually, so a lot of the tastes that go with sushi do great with this. If you can grow it big enough, you can just use one big leaf to wrap things up, too, rather than having to go for the whole dehydrated leaf into a sheet deal.



 
Tereza Okava
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shauna carr wrote:green (or red) Shiso


An excellent suggestion, sushi or no! We often use shiso leaves as wraps for onigiri (good sized ones will be the size of your hand) and it is good for so many other things- pickled, sauteed greens (for that kind of application, Korean recipes are great, search with the Korean name, kkaenip). The red shiso also makes a great tea that is our go-to summer drink (the green one tastes just as good but it won't get the crazy awesome purple color).
It's in the basil family and once you get it established, it will come back. It's one of the rabbits' favorite foods, so we make sure we always have it on hand.  
 
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Some very creative ideas on this post! I was delighted to learn that shiso will come back once established, especially since I've never been able to grow basil after many attempts.  I actually started growing shiso last year and this year I have several lovely plants that "volunteered" and have bigger leaves than last year.  They holding up well even after heavy rain and cooler weather, so maybe they are hardier than I thought. They taste spicey but I want to try making tea and as a wrapping nori sheet substitute as suggested.  As to purselane, I've blended it and dried it into sheets but it turns pretty crisp and crumbles easily. That was ok since I wanted it for soup. However, I think adding flax seed to purselane would bind it together nicely as I've made raw veggie crackers with flax seed as was mentioned..
 
Denise Cares
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Oh, forgot to mention that my volunteer shiso is red or a deep burgundy color. It is very pretty and very spicey. A Japanese friend lives in SW Wash and suggested preserving the leaves by either dehydrating or salting. Said "Our grandmother used to boil the seeds in soy sauce. We'd eat it with hot rice. In the oriental markets around here they sell the green shiso. In the Korean markets they sometimes sell the red leaves "pickled" in reduced soy sauce. They layer the leaves with chilies and then pour the reduced soy sauce over it."  As an alternative preservation I'd try layering leaves with olive oil like they do with grape leaves or basil, then freeze. I've frozen basil leaves whole that way and they keep good color.  I don't think leaves can be home canned tho like they do commercially with grape leaves for Greek dolmas and they might mold or grow botulism if not frozen once in the oil.  See here: https://susiej.com/the-safe-way-to-preserve-basil-without-botulism/
 
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