min. order $18 | free shipping over $45 (contig. US)


Prep Time
Cook Time

July 18, 2017 by Chef Pierre Thiam

The greatest thing about Yolélé fonio is its versatility. I once brought some to my friend, Japanese soba master Chef Shuichi Kotani, who thought that fonio was reminiscent of its Japanese counterpart, buckwheat. (They are both ancient grains believed to be over 5,000 years old.) He ground the fonio into our to make delicious fonio soba noodles and subsequently fell in love with it.

This recipe, in which I substitute sushi rice with whole grain, nutritional powerhouse fonio, is another nod to Japan. Light and healthy, I fill my nori-maki sushi with sweet potato and okra.


Makes 4 rolls
    For the sushi
    • cups cooked Yolélé fonio
    • 1/4  cup soy sauce
    • tablespoons red palm oil or vegetable oil
    • teaspoon lime juice
    • 16  whole okra pods, trim the narrow points of the okra so the pods are evenly thick in the rolls
    • cup roasted mashed sweet potato
    • sheets nori (seaweed)
    • large ripe mango, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick batons or Pickled Mango (optional)
    • 1/4  cup thinly sliced scallions
      For the Pickled Mango (makes 3 cups)
      • cups water
      • 2 1/2  cups sugar
      • tablespoons sea salt
      • cup white vinegar
      • tablespoons of cayenne pepper
      • whole cloves
      • whole selim pepper pods
      • firm, ripe mangoes
      (Adapted from Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl, by Pierre Thiam)


      • 01 .   Sushi

        Preheat the grill or a grill pan on high heat.

      • 02 .  

        With a small mortar and pestle, mash half of the cooked fonio into a paste. Combine with the rest of the fonio to make it sticky.

      • 03 .  

        Combine the soy sauce, oil, and lime juice in a small bowl. Stir 1 tablespoon into the fonio and set the rest aside for dipping later. s.

      • 04 .  

        Grill the okra for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly charred and tender. Try to turn the okra only once around halfway through the cooking. Set aside to cool.

      • 05 .  

        Lay a nori sheet on a sushi mat and evenly spread a thin layer of the fonio, leaving about 1 inch bare along the edge opposite you. Spread a few tablespoons of the mashed sweet potato along the closest edge to you.

      • 06 .  

        Line up a few okra, tip to tip, next to the sweet potato. Lay a few pieces of mango, tip to tip, next to the okra.

      • 07 .  

        Tightly roll up the sushi mat around the nori and the filling. Slightly wet the exposed end of the nori with water and seal. Repeat the process with the remaining nori sheets and filling.

      • 08 .  

        With a sharp knife, slice the rolls into small rounds.


      • 09 .  

        Serve immediately with the soy dipping sauce, topped with the scallion

      • 10 .   Pickled mango

        Place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and allow the mangos to cool.