I’ve had this sushi tutorial on my old domain from college for years. I’ve been thinking for a long time that since I have a proper food blog (which is now over two years old!), that I ought to migrate that content over here.
I’m going to teach you how to make sushi. It might sound intimidating, but it’s actually pretty easy once you practice a few times. The best part is that it is so much cheaper to make it at home, and you can often find the ingredients in bulk at very reasonable prices at your local Asian market.
There are some really handy tools I recommend for making sushi at home, which will make your life much easier. You might find them at your local grocery store or big box store since making sushi at home has become trendy in recent years, or you might find a better deal online. Here is what you will need, along with some handy Amazon links to purchase them (and I am very grateful for any purchases you make there, since it helps to keep the virtual lights on for this blog).
- Stainless Steel Saucepan
- Mesh Strainer that fits inside of a larger bowl
- Julienne Peeler (this makes it really easy to get those perfect cucumber and carrot cuts quickly)
- Non-Metal Mixing Bowl
- Bamboo Mat, Rice Paddle, and Rice Spreader
- Organic Sushi Rice
- Organic Sushi Nori – Roasted Seaweed Sheets
- Sushi Vinegar or “Seasoned Rice Vinegar” (this one is labeled gluten free)
Sushi Related Japanese Words and Phrases
…And before we get started with the instructions, here are some fun sushi vocabulary words, so you can sound like a pro when telling all of your friends how to make sushi.
- Sushi – Literally, “sticky rice,” but in general, refers to anything made from the sticky vinegared rice.
- Nori – Dried and pressed sheets of seaweed.
- Maki OR “norimaki“- Regular old seaweed on the outside sushi roll.
- Futomaki – Super big maki roll using a whole piece of Nori, rather than half.
- Ura Maki – Inside out roll.
- Temaki – Cone shaped hand roll.
- Nigiri – A topping laid over a small bed of rice. Usually, this is fish, but you can use any veggie you like. 😉
- Onigiri – A plain old rice ball filled with fun stuffin’s.
- Kappa – Cucumber (Kappa maki = cucumber roll).
- Kombu – Kelp
Visual Reference for Rolling
Here is a series of images from the original (and very vintage, I might add, because they are so not my usual professional quality) blog post showing how to roll up your sushi.
- 2 cups uncooked sushi rice
- 2.5 cups water (for cooking)
- 1/4 cup sushi vinegar
- 4-6 sheets nori (assuming we are making maki rolls with the rice on the inside)
- Bell pepper
- Sunflower sprouts
- Pickled vegetables
- Marinaded tofu strips, tempeh, or other faux meats, if you're into that kind of thing
- Rinse the sushi rice until the rinse water runs clear, not cloudy. This is starch you are washing off. You can put the rice into a strainer under a faucet, but I find it's handy to put the strainer with the rice directly into a bowl of water, and then swish it around with my hands. You'll have to change the water a couple times, but you can see when it's "clean" a lot easier.
- Bring cooking water to a boil in a pot. Add rice. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low/simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the water is all absorbed. Alternatively, you can be lazy like me and use a rice cooker.
- While the rice is cooking, cut your fillings into long even strips. For cucumbers and carrots, use a julienne peeler to make the perfect squared edge strips that you see in a Japanese restaurant. They turn out so professional looking and it's much faster than chopping by hand. If you are including avocado, cut into thin wedges.
- When the rice is done cooking, fluff it a bit in the pot, so that it won't dump out into your bowl into one big clump. Sushi rice is sticky, and it will want to hold together.
- Transfer the rice to a non-metallic bowl. Metal will interact negatively with the vinegar that the rice is seasoned with. Add the vinegar and stir with your rice paddle or large non-metallic spoon.
- For maki rolls, you need half a sheet of nori. Cut it in half so that the fold runs parallel with the perforated lines on the sheet. You can also just fold it and tear it gently along the fold.
- Lay the half sheet of nori on your sushi mat, again with the perforated lines running parallel to the bamboo strips on the mat.
- Cover the sheet with a thin even layer of the rice. It's VERY sticky. Leave about a 1/2 - 3/4 inch uncovered on the edge that is farthest away from you. Keep a small bowl of water nearby to dip your hands into if you don't want the rice to stick to them.
- Place some of the veggies on top the rice. Don't overfill. When you roll it together, the edges of the rice should touch together. It helps to run a wet finger along the un-riced edge so it will stick and seal the roll closed.
- Make sure the edge of the seaweed (closest to you) is lined up with the edge of the mat. Hold the veggies with your fingertips and use your thumbs to start curling the mat up. Guide the veggies firmly toward the center of the roll as you bring the edge of the mat up and over to start forming the roll.
- As you start rolling the mat up and over the veggies, the tube will start to form.
- When the mat hits the edge as you are rolling, then just peel it back, fold it under a bit, and start rolling again so that the edge of the mat will come over the roll. Once the maki is rolled all the way, put your fingers over the roll and give it a good squeeze and tug to make sure it's nice and firm, and round out the shape.
- If you have veggie pieces sticking out from the ends, just give them a trim with a good SHARP knife to make the ends flat.
- Use a VERY SHARP knife and slice it into about 6 pieces. A sharp knife is very important to making sure the roll has straight even edges and won't rip when cutting. It helps to dip the knife into some water before cutting the roll. Make sure there is no rice on the edge of the blade from cutting previous rolls.
- To make url maki, cover the entire half sheet of nori with rice and flip it over.
- Place the veggies on the seaweed. Since there is no rice taking up room, you can use more to fill the center.
- Roll in the same manner as the regular maki, ensuring that the edges of the rice overlap slightly so that the roll will stick closed.
- Garnish with some sesame seeds, if desired.
- You can also use your half sheet of nori to make a hand roll (a sushi cone that you can hold in your hand). Cover it with a tender lettuce leaf, skip the rice, add your fillings on a 45 degree angle from one of the corners, and then roll it on a diagonal, wrapping the extra around and using a little water to seal the edges shut.
- Cook as much rice as you want using a ratio of 1:1.25 (rice:water).
- Each cup of uncooked rice will make 4-6 sushi rolls.
- For every cup of uncooked rice that you started with, use 2TB vinegar to season.
- "Sushi Vinegar" is rice vinegar with the addition of salt and sugar.
- Some sushi vinegars are malted, which means they may not be gluten free. If you are sensitive to gluten, make sure you read the labels carefully to find a product that meets your dietary standards.
- If you cannot find a sushi vinegar that is unsalted, you can make your own sushi vinegar using this formula - ½ cup of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt (it will be enough for 3 cups uncooked rice). You could try using a natural liquid sweetener here in place of the sugar. Just make sure to check substitution ratios, as some are more or less sweet than sugar.