How To: Deconstructed Sushi for All the Flavor & None of the Labor

Deconstructed Sushi for All the Flavor & None of the Labor

If you're a sushi lover but not an expert sushi maker, you can still enjoy the flavors of sushi rolls at home with these deconstructed sushi dishes.

These are good not just for those challenged when it comes to rolling techniques, but also for people on special diets or who have calorie restrictions. People who can't eat rice can use quinoa or freekah instead, and low-carb people can eat all they want when it comes to deconstructed sushi salads.

Another benefit of these deconstructed sushi dishes is that your fish goes a little further, in terms of taste and cost.

Salmon tostada

How to Buy Sushi-Grade Fish

Many stores use the label "sushi-grade," but there are no official government standards for what that means. The only FDA regulation in place is that the fish must be frozen to kill any parasites—flash frozen for 24 hours or frozen for at least 7 days.

Where You Buy Matters:

Most stores use the label "sushi-grade" or "sashimi-grade" to refer to their freshest fish. I would suggest only buying your fish at a place that sells a large volume of fish that is intended to be eaten raw.

For me, that means a Japanese grocery store or a high-quality fishmonger. I never buy fish from a regular grocery store, no matter how upscale, because not everyone handling the fish will be experienced enough to be careful about storage or cross-contamination. So the fish at a regular grocery might be high-quality, sushi-grade fish, but it might be sliced or stored with non-sushi-grade fish.

Use Your Senses:

The color of the fish should be vibrant, not cloudy, and it shouldn't smell "fishy," though it can smell like the sea. If you're buying a whole fish, check the eyeballs: those should also be bright and clear, not murky or discolored.

Sushi Tostadas

For an East-West spin on things, these sashimi tostadas combine a satisfying crunch with beautifully seasoned fresh, seared, or smoked fish. If you love Philadelphia rolls, you can use cream cheese, smoked or raw salmon, and avocado; if you love spicy tuna rolls, you can use raw tuna and add some Sriracha to the sour cream.

Tuna tostada


  • Sashimi-grade tuna or smoked salmon
  • Vegetables, julienned or balled with a micro melon baller
  • Tostadas
  • Limes for garnish
  • Mexican crema or sour cream

For the dressing:

Optional Garnish:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Cilantro
  • Scallions
  • Pickled onions
  • Pickled jalapeños

How to Assemble the Tostadas:

  1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.
  2. Spread a thin layer of crema or sour cream on a tostada.
  3. Top with fish of your choice.
  4. Drizzle dressing on top.
  5. Top with any garnish you like.

Deconstructed Sushi Salad

This is more of a guide than a true recipe, as you can make sushi salad any way you wish and with the ingredients you like. If you love American-style sushi and California rolls are your thing, then it's easy to whip together a California roll salad. You just have to assemble the ingredients and toss. The only thing I'd really recommend is using a very light soy sauce dressing so you don't overpower everything else. Thick, creamy-based dressings are not recommended here.

Salmon skin sushi salad

Base Ingredients:

  • Greens and/or microgreens
  • Julienned carrots and cucumbers
  • Nori (seaweed), cut into thin strips

Suggested Ingredients:

  • Fish of your choice, raw (sushi-grade), seared, or smoked
  • Crab, steamed or imitation
  • Steamed edamame
  • Fried salmon skin
  • Sliced avocado

Optional Garnishes:

  • Sliced scallions
  • Sesame seeds
  • Bonito flakes
  • Shichimi togarashi (seven flavor chili pepper)

For the Soy Vinaigrette:

Whisk all ingredients together until combined. Makes almost a cup.

Deconstructed Sushi Rice Bowl

There is a traditional Japanese sushi dish called chirashi zushi, and it's sushi rice topped with raw fish, vegetables, and garnish. It's the original sushi rice bowl. In this modern interpretation, you don't have to make vinegared sushi rice, you can just arrange the ingredients you like over white or brown rice or another grain like quinoa. Get A Nutritionist Eats' instructions for this salmon sushi rice bowl here.

Image via A Nutritionist Eats

Sushi in a Mason Jar

As it turns out, you can serve almost everything in a mason jar. I wouldn't recommend doing a BYOL (bring your own lunch) with raw or even seared fish, but this a great idea for sushi jar lunches using smoked salmon or even canned tuna. And of course, it's great for vegetarians and California roll lovers. Follow this recipe for a vegetarian California roll sushi jar.

Image via Gabby Phi

Tuna Sashimi Tacos

These tuna sashimi tacos are a fresh, Eastern take on the fish taco. Follow the gorgeous tutorial from Healthy Recipe Ecstasy.

Image via Healthy Recipe Ecstasy

More Amazing Sushi Guides

If you want to learn how to make kimbap, or any other type of sushi roll, then follow this useful guide. If you are already an expert sushi roller, then try your hand at making Obama sushi or heart-shaped rolls.

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Photos by Naomi Imatome-Yun/Food Hacks (unless otherwise specified)

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