It’s about time, right?
Homemade Sushi: Tips, Tricks, and Toppings!
Let’s dive right in! It may seem like a lot to buy at first, but most of the ingredients turn into staples [like sriracha + sesame seeds] and non perishables like nori, sushi rice, and vinegar will last a ridiculously long time in your pantry. You’ll end up with 4-6 sushi dinners for the price of one at a restaurant. But above all else, it’s really fun! Invite a few friends over and go nuts.
As a bonus, this is one of the few times it’s socially acceptable to say “Here’s everything you need, now make your own dinner!” Set out all your ingredients and let your friends & family create their own rolls!
I’ll walk you through each step in the post and then include a printable cheat sheet at the end to make your new sushi adventure even easier!
You can pick up your staples at your local asian food market or in your grocery store’s international food aisle. Nearly every store I’ve been to carries all the above ingredients!
Once you have your pantry staples, all you’ll need is some fresh produce!
Some of my favorite options are cucumber, avocado, asparagus, jalapenos and green onion. Carrots, yuca, sprouts, lettuce, bell peppers, red onion, and radish also make positively fabulous sushi rolls. Fruit-wise, pineapple, mango, apple and pear are all insanely good. And as for protein options? Anything you’d like! I typically use shrimp tempura and/or sashimi grade tuna, since that’s what’s available near me. When I lived in VA I was able to get fresh salmon from local Asian markets, but here in coastal NC my options are limited. You can also add tofu or cream cheese to the rolls if you’d like! Be creative and add anything that floats your sushi boat.
step 1 – make the rice: Combine 1+1/2 cups of rice with 2 cups of water in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Let the rice simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat after 20 minutes but let the rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes or so to ensure that the rice is fully cooked. The best way to ruin the sushi is to roll it in crunchy rice. I have TOTALLY done this before — whoops! A taste test will ensure that your rice is perfectly fluffy.
Feel free to use a rice cooker or [click here] for shortcut sushi in under 2 minutes; quinoa also makes an excellent substitute for rice!
Cooking the rice is the only time-consuming part of the entire process. While it cooks, save time by prepping your fish, veggies, and sauces!
step 2 season the rice: If you don’t already own rice vinegar, feel free to opt for the pre-seasoned variety to save yourself a step. If you already have a bottle of rice vinegar or have white vinegar on hand, simply season with salt and vinegar to taste. For the rice measurements above you’ll need 1/3 cup of seasoned rice vinegar or 1/3 cup of vinegar seasoned with one teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour over your rice, fluff with a fork, and taste. Adjust salt/sugar as desired. Remove rice from heat, add to a bowl and cover with a paper towel.
step 3 julienne your veggies: While the rice cooks/cools – prep your veggies! Slice into matchsticks and set aside. Once the rice is done you’ll be ready to roll!
Now that all your ingredients are prepped, let’s get our roll on!
step 4 wrap it up: To avoid messy clean-up and scrubbing, wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap. Lay a sheet of nori on top and grab your rice!
step 5: The most complicated part of the whole process was making the darn rice in the first place. Really! The two most popular techniques are inside-out rolls with rice on the outside or rolls wrapped with nori on the outside and rice on the inside. Since it’s easiest to make rolls with seaweed on the outside, that’s what we’ll start with! Grab a spoon and spread a thin layer of rice on the seaweed sheet. For large rolls, add an extra layer. I like my pieces bite-sized, so I add a thin layer and leave a little extra space at the end. Totally up to you!
step 6 line it up: Place your toppings in the center, very close to one another. If you have large slices or an abundance of ingredients you may want to pile some on top of each other.
For rice on the inside, line your veggies/seafood on top of the rice
For rice on the outside, flip the sheet of nori so the rice touches the plastic wrap and then add your vegetables to the seaweed-only side.
step 7 roll, squeeze, repeat: This one’s hard to explain… but it’s easy to do! The first roll will bind the ingredients into the center. Roll approx 1/4 of the mat and gently squeeze (so it sticks) and unfold the bamboo mat. Repeat the process until you’ve rolled the sheet of rice, seaweed, and veggies into a spiral. Give it one last squeeze to seal the deal.
step 8: Slice into bite-sized discs with a freshly sharpened chef’s knife. If you’re topping your sushi with sashimi or avocado, first tightly wrap the roll in plastic wrap prior to slicing. This will keep everything neat and pretty an avoid the horrific act of flinging avocado slices all over the kitchen. Though if that sounds like fun to you, fling away! I’ll stick with the saran wrap =) Next pile on your toppings [see below!] and set up a few sauces for dunking. Well, do that after you steal the end pieces off the roll [they're always the messiest!] and shove them in your face!
and my favorite topping… AVOCADO!
- sushi-making staples:
- sushi rice [Nishiki is my brand of choice!]
- a bamboo sushi mat
- plastic wrap [cling/saran wrap]
- nori [seaweed sheets]
- low-sodium soy sauce
- toasted sesame seeds and/or chia seeds
- sriracha chili sauce
- wasabi + pickled ginger
- stellar sushi ingredients // choose your favorites:
- green onion
- bell peppers
- tempura [cooked] shrimp
- imitation crabmeat [cooked]
- raw sashimi grade salmon
- smoked salmon
- raw sashimi grade tuna
- and the list goes on and on!
- chia seeds
- sesame seeds
- thin slices of fish
- shrimp or crab salad
- seaweed salad
- sliced almonds
- thinly sliced avocado [tutorial]
- volcano topping [recipe]
- STEP ONE: Make your sushi rice on the stove top or using a rice cooker. Quinoa works excellent too!
- STEP TWO: Season the rice with seasoned rice vinegar or a combination of plain rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour over your rice, fluff with a fork, taste, and adjust as desired. Remove rice from heat, fluff into a bowl and set aside.
- STEP THREE: While the rice cooks/cools, prep your veggies! Slice into matchsticks and set aside. Once the rice is done you'll be ready to roll!
- STEP FOUR: To avoid messy clean-up and scrubbing, wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap. Lay a sheet of nori on top and grab your rice!
- STEP FIVE: Use a spoon to spread a thin layer of rice on the seaweed sheet.
- STEP SIX: Place your toppings in the center, very close to one another and practically in a little veggie dogpile.
- For rice on the inside, line your veggies/seafood on top of the rice.
- For rice on the outside, flip the sheet of nori so the rice touches the plastic wrap and then add your vegetables to the seaweed-only side.
- STEP SEVEN: roll, squeeze, repeat: This one's hard to explain... but it's easy to do! The first roll will bind the ingredients into the center. Roll approx ¼ of the mat and gently squeeze (so it sticks) and unfold the bamboo mat. Repeat the process until you've rolled the sheet of rice, seaweed, and veggies into a spiral. Give it one last squeeze to seal the deal.
- STEP EIGHT: Slice into bite-sized discs with a freshly sharpened chef's knife. If you're topping your sushi with sashimi or avocado, first tightly wrap the roll in plastic wrap prior to slicing. This will keep everything neat and pretty an avoid the horrific act of flinging avocado slices all over the kitchen. Though if that sounds like fun to you, fling away! I'll stick with the saran wrap!
- Next pile on all your favorite toppings and set up a few sauces for dunking.