Sushi is a hallmark of Japanese cuisine. In a nutshell, sushi are usually rolls comprised of rice and various proteins and vegetables encompassed in a toasted sheet of seaweed (or soy paper). Some rolls are also topped with sauces, tobiko (fish roe), and/or crispy flakes. Thus there is a vast potential for different combinations of ingredients. Making truly exquisite sushi requires the skills, training, and knowledge of a sushi master, but homemade rolls actually aren’t that hard to make!
1. To make sushi rice, cook the medium-grain, premium Japanese sushi rice according to the instructions printed on the packaging. After rice is cooked, transfer to a wide, shallow bowl (or rimmed baking sheet); you want to be able to spread the rice out evenly so it can cool faster. Add sushi rice vinegar (as instructed on bottle and based on how many cups of rice you cooked) and gently and evenly combine into rice. Be careful not to mix aggressively. Cover with a damp towel until you are ready to proceed. Note: We like Mitsukan brand Sushi Seasoning & Nishiki brand sushi rice.
2. Prepare desired ingredients by cutting them into elongated strips. This is where you can be creative and make whatever you’re in the mood for. Avocados (tip: squeeze lemon juice over sliced pieces to prevent/delay browning), seedless cucumbers, imitation crab, and shrimp tempura are common favorite fillings.
3. To prevent the rice from sticking to your bamboo sushi mat, cover it with plastic wrap before proceeding to roll. Make “vinegar water” (combine 1/4 cup water with 2 tsp rice vinegar) to use to prevent rice from sticking to your hands when you are making the rolls.
4. Cut toasted seaweed (nori) sheet in half crosswise (follow the folds on sheet). Place the shiny side of the seaweed down onto the sushi mat. Spread your cooked sushi rice on top in an even and thin layer with your hands using the “vinegar water”.
5. Flip the seaweed over (meaning the rice now faces the bamboo mat and the shiny side of the seaweed faces you). Add your desired fillings in a long row near the bottom of the sheet. Do not overload; otherwise you will have a hard time rolling!
6. Roll your sushi tightly according to directions found on your sushi mat. If desired, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds (or other topping) on top.
7. To cut your finished roll, wipe some “vinegar water” onto your sharp knife and slice through. Clean your knife each time before cutting again.
8. Serve with Japanese soy sauce, wasabi (if you like it), and pickled ginger (generally available at Asian groceries).
For more specific instructions, including exact recipes for various rolls, sauces, and fillings, please check out Just One Cookbook.
Making sushi at home is definitely labor intensive… We’ll stick to ordering from the pros. :P But, making your own is certainly an option if you live far from a good Japanese restaurant! It’s also a fun couple/group activity every now and then.