A few years back, my husband and I got ambitious and decided to host a sushi-making party. The only problem was neither of us knew how to make it. Thus began our research. Over the years we have…well I should really say I have…perfected the art of sushi making. (Clint has perfected the art of sushi consumption). Stay-at-home-sushi-date-night has become one of our favorite traditions. Since the kids aren’t as tickled over sushi as we are, we put them to bed, share a bowl of soy sauce, and dip, chomp, and talk to our hearts content. It’s significantly cheaper than go-out-for-sushi-date-night, not to mention you can wear your pajamas. And in case you’re feeling intimidated, it’s really not as hard as it looks.
As my husband and I quickly learned when we began our research, the secret to great sushi is in the rice. In fact the term “sushi” refers to the specially prepared rice, not the fish. So the first step to making authentic sushi is making authentic sushi rice. Here’s how to do it:
(Note: The following is not my own original recipe. Unfortunately, I perused so many different websites years ago that I don’t remember where this particular recipe came from, otherwise I’d give the website due credit.)
- 2 cups sushi rice (you can buy sushi rice at Publix, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, or a local Asian grocery store)
- 2 ¼ cups water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Bring rice and water to a simmer, cover, and cook on low for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Let stand, covered, for 10 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, make sushi rice seasoning by mixing rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved.
- Immediately spread the rice on a large cookie sheet, fanning it so that it cools quickly. (Cooling sushi rice rapidly is the trick to making it sticky.)
- Sprinkle with prepared seasoning and let cool completely.
You will also need to purchase Nori, the seaweed paper used to roll sushi. I usually buy it at Whole Foods or Fresh Market, though if you can find a local Asian store, it will probably be cheaper. Make sure to buy toasted Nori. Likely, these stores will also carry sushi mats, the small bamboo mats used for rolling sushi. Buy one or two and you can use them forever. The only other items you need are whatever ingredients you like inside your sushi rolls. Here’s some of the staples we like:
- Cream Cheese
- Crab meat (imitation is fine—it’s what’s typically used in California rolls)
- Smoked salmon (if I’m going to use raw fish, I buy it from a higher end store like Whole Foods or Fresh Market just to be on the safe side)
How to Make a Traditional Sushi Roll:
- Chop all ingredients appropriately and lay them out along with sushi rice, Nori, one sushi mat, and a bowl of water. It is helpful to put your sushi mat inside a large Ziploc bag (or wrap it in plastic wrap) to prevent rice from being smashed in between the bamboo slats.
- Cut one sheet of Nori in half horizontally.
- Lay the Nori shiny side down on your bamboo mat. Dampen your hands in the bowl of water and spread a thin layer of sushi rice on top of the Nori. (The thinner the better! Putting too much rice on your Nori will make the roll fat, and difficult to “seal.”) The rice is very sticky—use the bowl of water as necessary.
- Next, lay ingredients in a straight line on top of the sushi rice about an inch from the edge.
- Beginning at the edge the ingredients are closest to, roll the Nori one time around the ingredients as tightly as you can. Your goal is to lock all ingredients under the edge of the Nori. Once you have done this, roll it a final time to seal it off. If you cannot seal it because the ingredients are spilling out, you’ve made it too fat…and as my husband would say, it’s now a burrito roll, and you should eat it accordingly
- Finally, slice the roll into 8 pieces.
How to Make an Inside-Out Sushi Roll:
- A California Roll is one example of a common inside-out sushi roll. To do this, follow steps 1-3 above.
- Once your rice is spread on top of your Nori, flip the whole thing over so that the rice is against the bamboo mat. (For this roll it’s imperative you put your mat inside a Ziploc bag or cover it with plastic wrap).
- Now the Nori should be face up. Line your ingredients along the Nori, then roll tightly as instructed above. You can add slightly more ingredients to an inside-out roll then a traditional roll and still be able to seal it. You can also sprinkle an inside out roll with sesame seeds or roll it a final time in salmon eggs (the bright orange stuff) if you want to be fancy!
Some of Our Favorite Homemade Rolls:
Traditional California Roll—imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, and carrots
Giada’s California Roll—imitation crab, avocado, and mango
Salmon Roll—smoked salmon and cream cheese
Spicy Crab Roll—shred some of your crab meat and mix with mayo, cayenne pepper, and chili powder; spread mixture evenly on top of rice before rolling
Seafood Roll—crab, salmon, shrimp, cream cheese, and avocado—often we make this a HUGE roll by using a whole sheet of Nori instead of a half sheet. We slice the finished roll into ten pieces instead of eight so each piece is thinner.
Veggie Roll—avocado, cucumber, carrots, blanched asparagus
The sky’s the limit when it comes to creating sushi rolls. One of the most fun things about homemade sushi (besides the joy of gorging yourself on cheap sushi) is the fun of creating it. For this reason, it’s a great idea for a social gathering. Throw out an array of ingredients, let everybody build their own, and enjoy the tasty creations you come up with! Mmmmm…..