Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sushi Rice and Rolls

I absolutely LOVE sushi! But, as we all know, it can be really expensive. I wanted to learn how to make it on my own so I started with cucumber rolls. Sushi rice is really good and not as incredibly complicated as it might seem. I found a good recipe on and have used it many times. I find that I have to adjust the vinegar to taste and usually only put in 3/4 of what the recipe calls for at first, and then continue adding it until it's just right. Sometimes that means adding more and sometimes a little less.

Now finding sushi grade fish was a more difficult task. At first, I would go to a sushi restaurant and ask them to charge me for a chunk of fish. It was expensive though- not as expensive as eating in the restaurant but still too expensive for a home cooked meal that I had to spend lots of time and energy to prepare. Then, someone told me about a store called Marukai. It's a Japanese grocery store that offers sushi grade fish at a much lower price. You have to pay a yearly membership fee of about $10, but it's totally worth it! They have tons of really interesting products that you can't find at regular grocery stores. The nearest one is about 25 minutes away from my apartment so I don't go all the time, but when I do, I stock up on Enoki mushrooms, shiso leaves, various sauces, roasted seaweed, and udon soup.

Here is a link to Marukai's website:

If you do't have a Marukai near you, you can always order sushi grade fish off the internet:

Okay. Time to learn how to make some sushi. Please note that I am not Japanese. There are probably things I don't do the traditional way in this tutorial. Think of this more like a born-and-raised American's attempt to make a traditional dish with the limited resources available in America. My intent is not to offend anyone or to sully the rich tradition of making sushi.

To start, I'm going to provide the link to the sushi rice recipe. Rather than retyping it, it makes more sense to give the original link so you can read the reviewers' comments at the bottom of the page:

Sushi Rice Recipe: (you will need to click on this link. It will not work to cut and paste it into you address bar.

Now. You'll need a few things for the rest of the recipe:

Kitchen Materials:
- A bamboo rolling mat (Makisu)
- Cutting board
- A sharp knife
- A wooden spoon or spatula

- Filling for rolls, cut into long strips (can be cucumber, avocado, fish, etc.)
- Seaweed sheets big enough for rolls
- Wasabi
- Soy Sauce

Directions to make rolls:

Step 1: Make sushi rice according to directions.

Step 2: Lay bamboo rolling mat out on hard surface. Place seaweed sheet on top. Apply layer of rice to 2/3rds of the seaweed (see photos) about 1/8-1/4 inches thick. I usually combine a little rice vinegar with water in a cup and wet my hands before touching rice. It makes it really easy to spread evenly. Wet seaweed that is not covered in rice with a little of this water as well so that when the roll is completed, the seaweed on the end will stick.

Step 3: Add fillings (see photos). Apply small amount of wasabi to finger and run finger over rice you that you have the faint taste of wasabi in every bit of roll. Roll bamboo mat over so that seaweed starts to roll. You'll want your fillings to be at the beginning of the roll. Curl back bamboo mat and continue to roll so that bamboo mat does not go into seaweed roll (see photos). Continue to roll until all seaweed is incorporated then give one last tug on the bamboo mat, holding bottom of mat and pulling the portion still around the sushi tightly. Please note that this step takes practice. Unless you are just meant to be an amazing sushi chef, your first rolls will likely come out lop sided and sad looking. It took me some time to figure it out and my rolls are still not perfect. No worries, they still taste awesome! Below are photos of how to roll the sushi but be aware that I put too much rice on this one. The photos above are a better guide to how much rice shout be in the roll.

Step 4: Remove from bamboo mat and place on cutting board. Wet a very sharp knife with some vinegar water and cut through rolls to make bite sized pieces.

Directions to make Sushi Bowls:

Step 1: Add sushi rice to bowl. Cut up fish or other toppings into 1 inch pieces. Place on top of rice. Add other ingredients if desired (strips of seaweed, sesame seeds, seasonings, etc.). Serve with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce on the side.

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