Soy-free and Rice-Free Challenge: Gluten-free Quinoa Vegetarian Sushi Recipe with no-soy sauce

quinoasush3iI can’t lie to you. Dealing with a gluten-free and top 8 allergen free diet plus some can be really tough. Gluten-free doesn’t even make me blink, but you start talking soy-free, egg-free, and even rice-free (my latest effort for Baby Yum), and some key dishes start getting to be a real challenge. Take sushi. There is nothing I love more than an avocado sushi roll, dipped in gluten-free soy sauce. But now both the sushi rice and the soy sauce are (temporarily) off the menu, what is a Japanese-food-loving girl to do? Get serious about thinking outside the box! I’ve been playing with the idea of a quinoa based sushi “rice” for a while now, but the soy sauce had me stumped. Usually I would sprinkle the sushi with sesame seeds and salt for a good soy sauce substitute for my soy-free friends… but right now I’m avoiding sesame seeds! Luckily I was in my local Cupertino Whole Foods the other day and found a miracle staring me right in the face- a bottle of gluten-free and soy-free soy sauce! This miracle potion is called Coconut Secret Raw Amino Acids and is compatible with a gluten-free as well as a raw foods diet. The price tag, unfortunately, is steep. In fact, I think I bought it in a delirious haze of joy and didn’t notice the price until later, at which point I gulped and felt (some) buyers remorse. quinoachirashiBut this stuff is so awesome and works perfectly in Japanese and Chinese recipes as a straight substitute for soy sauce that I didn’t feel bad for long. And it was the perfect partner to my quinoa sushi rolls! The week I made this, my father was visiting, and it passed the glutenoid test with flying colors. It’s not quite vegetarian sushi without rice, but this quinoa sushi satisfied my sushi craving nicely, and is a fun and new way to use a very healthful “grain.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

*If you don’t have nori you can make a chirashi “zushi” by sprinkling the filling over a nice bowl of the seasoned quinoa. Quick and easy, especially for leftover quinoa!

Gluten free Rice Free Quinoa Vegetarian Sushi Recipe
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water

sushi vinegar:
1/4 cup of neutral vinegar (i used a filtered apple vinegar)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt

2 green onions, quartered horizontally
2 carrots, peeled,sliced into long pieces and blanched
1/2 avocado, sliced

Unseasoned nori sheets

*A large recipe- you will have enough leftover quinoa for several servings of quinoa “chirashi” with vegetables sprinkled on top, unless you are cooking for a large group very hungry for “sushi” rolls.

Toast quinoa in a skillet on medium low, stirring to prevent burning. When quinoa is nicely toasted, move to a fine wire strainer and rinse. Pour into pan with water and bring to boil. Cover and lower heat and leave for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pan on low and let the sugar and salt dissolve into the liquid.

Put your quinoa in a large, glass bowl and drizzle your sushi vinegar mixture over the quinoa. Fold it in for even distribution. Once quinoa has cooled, you can begin to make your sushi.

To prepare your sushi, get your nori sheet and place on a bamboo rolling mat. Cover the entire sheet with quinoa “sushi-rice” except for a horizontal strip at the bottom. Choose a line about 1 or two inches above the bare strip of nori and create a strip on top of the quinoa of filling ingredients. Make sure a small strip or two of green onions,blanched, thin carrot and a slice of avocado will be in every bite. Gently roll your nori together to form a cylinder and moisten the bare nori strip with water. Seal together and let rest while you make your desired number of sushi rolls.

When ready to serve, gently slice cylinders into bite size rolls. You may want to cut a wider roll at the ends where the quinoa mixture is the loosest.

Serve on a plate. If allergies don’t prohibit it, you can sprinkle the rolls with sesame seeds, but it is not necessary.

Enjoy with your favorite wheat-free soy sauce or one of the new soy-free sauces on the market like Coconut Secret’s Raw Coconut Aminos. (Yummy!)

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25 Responses to “Soy-free and Rice-Free Challenge: Gluten-free Quinoa Vegetarian Sushi Recipe with no-soy sauce”

  1. Wow what a find! I’ve never heard of such a thing, soy free soy sauce. So the taste of it is ok? I am super impressed with how well you are catering to all of these allergies…and it makes me thankful the only one in our household that we have to worry about is gluten. But I think I will make some quinoa sushi, that sounds really tasty :)

  2. I love putting quinoa in my sushi! I’ve always done a mix of quinoa and rice, although it looks like your quinoa held up just fine on its own. I’m intrigued by the soy free soy sauce…

  3. Great idea–and I’d never heard of that soy-free sauce, either (though I suspect that’s because they don’t carry it in Canada yet!). Now I must try sushi with quinoa–bet it is spectacular.

  4. Wow, those look delicious! I’ll have to try it with quinoa. I actually don’t usually use rice in my sushi….only some sort of raw almond or sunflower seed spread and vegetables. Very clever, thanks for sharing :)

  5. Terrific! I love quinoa. Use it all the time. It’s such a wonder ingredient!

  6. Nothing to add on the non-soy soy sauce, but a lot of good wishes for Baby Yum and her obviously very dedicated and imaginative mother.

  7. I’ve been to that Whole Foods (WF) in Cupertino. I think it is the biggest WF in the bay area. My WF in Los Gatos is nice but sometimes I have to drive to Cupertino for something more obscure – like your newly found sauce. Thanks for the tip!

  8. This is amazing! I am a such sushi hound (my favorite lunch to make for myself) and cannot wait to try this version. Thank you so much.

  9. As I was reading your post I thought, “I have GOT to tell her about the coconut raw aminos.” But you beat me to it! I have some in my cupboard too. Yum. I’m glad you’re finding ways to enjoy your food with such a restricted diet. It won’t be forever. I did it for over 2 years and can’t even remember how it felt anymore. I just remember thinking, Hurray, now I can have cheese again. Then realizing I didn’t like it as much as I used to and now I don’t eat it at all.

  10. This sounds so awesome! I’m not familiar with sushi vinegar — is there a way to omit sugar/sweetener from it completely do you think? Thanks!

  11. Thanks all for the comments! And thanks for the support, Mars. :)

    Hi Pup, Sushi vinegar is what is traditionally added to rice to help it stick together and give it a little flavor for sushi recipes. If you object to processed sugar, you could substitute agave, or possibly substitute mirin for some of the vinegar, which has a natural sweetness. However, if you leave out any sweet element entirely the balance will be off and you will just have salty, sour quinoa… not so tasty.


  12. Yummy! The sushi looks good. I have just become a fan of sushi and am willing to try this! Thanks for the recipe I have never made my own sushi before but I want to try. Thanks again for the recipe!!

  13. Hi Maria, Thanks! Keep in mind this is an unusual sushi recipe- to make traditional sushi with rice, you could substitute similar amounts of short grained Japanese rice for the quinoa. (Use rice to water ratio recommended on your package of rice.) It sticks together much more than quinoa and probably would be easier for the first time you make sushi. :)


  14. Hey Sea, I was making lunch today using my Coconut Aminos and realized I was putting them on Kelp Noodles. Do you know about these? They are pretty yummy and since they are made from, well kelp, I think they are ok on your diet.

    I have a extra bag in my cupboard, LMK and I can send you some to try.

  15. Love this alternative sushi recipe. I have several friends that can’t stand the thought of eating raw fish, so now I have something I can share with them. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Another noodle alternative that we’ve enjoyed lately are the Explore Asian bean noodles. FULL of protein and organic. They have them in my local food coop. The black bean spaghetti are the best!

    The mung bean is pretty good too:

    I haven’t tried the soy bean noodle, but you can’t have that anyway.

    OK, I’ll stop now. LOL



  17. Mars- You are awesome! I found the kelp noodles at my local Whole Foods and can’t wait to try them. Thanks so much for the tip and offer to send some! Since I can get them locally, you should save your postage, but it was really sweet of you. I’m really glad you mentioned them, as I forgot they were out there! Can’t wait to have “asian” pasta again..


  18. Hurray! I’m glad you found them. They are a favorite around here. My dd BEGS for them. LOL Enjoy. :-)

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