Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Smoked Salmon Nori Rolls with Wasabi Sauce

If you’ve been leery of working with sheets of “nori,” the sea vegetable commonly used to make sushi rolls, fear no more. I did it for the first time and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was much easier than some reports would have us believe.

Nori Sheet
As with any wrap, it’s key not to overstuff. For this recipe, spread the rice as thinly as possible and don’t stack the vegetables too high. Simple as that.

To me, even more important is leaving enough of a margin at the top of the sheet so that there’s plenty of room to fold it over and seal the wrap tightly. I left about an inch (or just over) margin, rubbed it with a little water, then pulled the top over the rolled wrap. Worked like glue!

Most preparation methods call for some help in rolling the nori tightly—a special sushi bamboo mat is one option. But I don’t have one of those, so I used a sheet of wax paper. Lay the bottom edge of the nori sheet near the bottom edge of the wax paper and use the paper to help lift the nori and get the rolling started.

Simply pull the filling toward you as you roll, tucking it tightly inside the wrap, until you reach the top margin. Dampen the edge, fold it over the wrap, press to seal, and you’re done.

There are countless filling ingredients for nori rolls, but keep them to a flavorful minimum for best results. Here, I used thin slices of store-bought smoked salmon; skinny, matchstick-sized pieces of carrot and seedless cucumber; and a combination of spicy radish and clover sprouts. (Alfalfa sprouts would work well too.)

Nori Filling Vegetables
As tasty as these light, lean, little morsels are, they beg for a big-flavored sauce to be dipped in. That’s where wasabi comes in. This bright green Japanese prepared horseradish is commonly sold in small tubes and is guaranteed to clear the sinuses. I love spice so I used an ample amount in the sauce. Cut the amount in half for less heat.

Wasabi Paste
One more note: I included pickled ginger in the dish, but I recommend starting it a day ahead if you want to make it yourself. The fibrous slices of fresh ginger need time to soften in the pickling liquid or else they will be a bit crunchy. Don’t be surprised when the liquid turns pink—that’s just the ginger reacting to the vinegar. The pickled ginger ingredients list, preparation, and photos appear at the bottom of this recipe.

Okay, one more: Rice used in sushi rolls is very short-grained and seasoned with vinegar. The same goes whether you’re using raw fish or not. The rice should be considerably sticky, helping the filling hold together.

Sushi Rice
Makes 24 pieces


For the Wasabi Sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp prepared wasabi paste
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
 For the Nori Rolls
  • 1 cup uncooked sushi rice (or other short-grain white rice, soaked in cold water 30 minutes and drained
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 4 sheets nori
  • 4 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon
  • 1 cup packed radish and clover sprout mixture (or alfalfa sprouts)
  • 1 cup peeled carrot matchsticks
  • 1 cup seedless cucumber matchsticks
Vegetables Cut into Matchsticks

For the Wasabi Sauce
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl.
Wasabi Sauce
For the Nori Rolls
  1. Combine the rice and water in a nonstick pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until soft and the water is absorbed, 12-13 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and sesame seeds in a small bowl, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Stir into the rice.
Rice Beginning to Cook 
Cooked Rice
  1. Lay a sheet of wax paper (a little larger than the nori sheet) on a work surface. Place a nori sheet on the wax paper, toward the bottom edge.
  2. Using a wet spoon or wet fingers, spread 1/4 of the rice in a thin layer on the nori, leaving a 1- to 1 1/2-inch edge at the top of the sheet.
  3. Lay 1/4 of the salmon in a thin layer on the bottom half of the rice. Top the salmon with thin layers of sprouts, carrot, and cucumber, about 1/4 of each.
Rice Layer 
Smoked Salmon Layer 
Sprouts Layer
Vegetable Layer
  1. Using the bottom edge of the wax paper as a start, lift the bottom edge of the nori and begin rolling the sheet upward, tucking in the filling as you go.
  2. When you reach the dry top edge of the nori, wet it with water and fold it over the wrapped roll. Lay the roll seam-side down on a plate. Repeat with the remaining 3 nori sheets.
  3. Wet the blade of a serrated knife and cut each roll into 6 rounds. 
Roll the Nori Tightly
Nori Rolls
To serve, divide the sauce among small bowls and serve alongside the nori rolls (with pickled ginger, if desired; recipe below).

Smoked Salmon Nori Rolls with Wasabi Sauce
Pickled Ginger
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-inch piece of ginger, peeled, halved crosswise and very thinly sliced lengthwise
  1. Combine the vinegars, sugar, and salt in a small bowl or jar, stirring well until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the ginger strips, submerging completely. Seal and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain and bring the ginger to room temperature before serving.
Peeled Ginger 
Thinly Sliced Ginger 
Ginger in Pickling Mixture 
Pickled Ginger 


  1. Love, love, love sushi. It's like edible art! Thanks for sharing your recipe and linking up to What'd You Do This Weekend! Pinning :-)

    Ashley @ PioneerMomma.com

    1. Thanks much, Ashley! "Edible art"---I like that.