Sushi may be the perfect meal: Visually appetizing, intriguing in flavor, fun to eat and good for you, too. So why not eat it more often? Oh yes — the price. Lucky for you, while fine sushi is an art worth its premium cost, everyday rolls can easily fit your budget and your taste preferences. Once you get the hang of sushi, it’s also relatively easy to prepare. So get ready to dive in and get your hands sticky as you learn to make your own sushi rolls.
Let’s be clear: I am no sushi chef, just a sushi lover. I’ve included links to some of my sushi inspirations at the bottom of the page.
For the rice:
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup sake or mirin (a Japanese rice wine)
- 4 cups short grain/sushi rice
- Nori seaweed wrappers
- 12″x12″ bamboo rolling mat (look for them at Asian markets)
- Vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, avocado, radish sprouts, and anything else you like. Hot tip: Try pickling carrots lightly by soaking them in vinegar, salt and sugar.
- Fish, crab, shrimp or other seafood. Cooked or raw, as you prefer — but be sure to look for sustainable seafood and of course keep that raw fish chilled at all times.
- Fresh organic wasabi and low-sodium soy sauce!
I’ll abbreviate the instructions; follow my links for the full, nuanced method that leads to sushi perfection.
Sushi is the term for any food made with vinegared rice, so every sushi dish starts with the rice. Rinse your rice in cool water until the water runs clear. Add the rice to a rice cooker with an equal amount of water.
While the rice cooks, heat the vinegar, sugar and sake just enough to dissolve the sugar. Stir the mixture to combine it, then let it cool to room temperature.
Add the cooked rice to a large bowl, and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Fold it in gently, then let it sit ten minutes. Fold it again, then cover it with a wet towel and keep it warm while you make your sushi. Here’s Pioneer Woman’s tutorial on making sushi rice.
By now you may have noticed that the rice is very sticky. Wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap to keep the rice from sticking and ruining your roll.
Gently fold a sheet of nori in half to break it. Lay one half on your roller. With wet hands, take a generous half cup of rice and spread it evenly over the surface of the nori, leaving about a half-inch bare strip along one of the long edges.
Cut your veggies and fish into long, thin strips. Add just a few pieces of each ingredient to the center of the rice. Don’t add too much, or you won’t be able to close your roll.
Moisten the bare edge of the sushi well, and roll it all tightly, keeping even pressure. Press the nori edge down to seal it. This part takes practice, so prepare to eat some broken rolls.
Congratulations, you’ve made your first sushi roll! Now begins a lifetime of learning and experimentation. I recommend Pioneer Woman’s basic tutorials on making sushi rolls and popular sushi roll recipes. For inspiration, vegan sushi and mouthwatering photos, read Marisa Baggett‘s blog. And go wild on the comprehensive Sushi Links site. Finally, always bring your sustainable seafood pocket guide to the grocery store!