This past weekend we decided to try our hand at making some fresh sushi. It’s been something we have wanted to attempt for the last year or so, since we went over to a friend’s house and ate homemade sushi rolls. Overall it was a task with many unexpected challenges, however even if your sushi doesn’t look as amazing as it could, it still tastes great. It takes more effort than eating out, but once you have the some of the main components needed such as the bamboo mats and sushi rice, it’s actually a fairly inexpensive meal to make for a weekend treat when you have some free time.
Before you can make sushi, you’ll need some tools. Unless you’re making rolls by yourself, you’ll want at least two bamboo mats. In addition, you’ll need a (preferably bamboo) rice paddle for folding the sushi rice. We bought a good set of two mats and a rice paddle on Amazon. To go along with the bamboo mats, you’ll want to make sure that you have saran wrap on hand, to cover the mats fully so that the rice won’t stick in between the plats and make your clean-up significantly longer.
For the sushi rice, there are only a few ingredients you need: a Japanese short-grain sushi rice, rice vinegar, salt, sugar. Add to that the seaweed sheets (nori), and you’re halfway there. For the sauces to accompany the sushi, we had soy sauce, wasabi, and spicy mayo (we just mixed together Japanese kewpie mayo and srichacha sauce to taste).
All of the above were fairly easy to find at a local Asian grocery store. For our fish, we decided to get fresh salmon, ahi tuna, and hamachi (yellowtail). All three (and more) were available in sashimi-grade from Coastal Seafoods in Minneapolis. Along with very reasonable prices, they had a very large selection of sushi grade fish; the fish guy at the counter was also knowledgeable and friendly.
After picking up our seafood and supplies, we tackled the rice making process. There is a very specific way to make the sushi rice – it involves thoroughly rinsing the rice through a strainer until the water runs clear, soaking the rice for 30 minutes and cooking the rice on low heat to just the right consistency – takes about 20 to 30 minutes. While the rice is cooking, you simmer rice vinegar with sugar and salt (watch the heat so that the mixture doesn’t boil!). That’s what gives the rice it’s sweet, sticky quality. To mix the rice with the rice vinegar, you’re supposed to use a large wooden dish or bowl, but we only had a glass bowl on hand. It is highly recommended that you do not use a metal bowl for this, as the acidity in the vinegar will create undesirable effects when brought into contact with the metal bowl. Another tip is to make sure that you gently fold the rice onto itself when mixing in the vinegar solution; mixing too aggressively will cause the rice to crush. Overall, making the rice wasn’t too difficult, although it did take some experimentation to get the rice to the correct consistency.
You’ll see the pictures of the cut fish below. The cuts that we had to work with were not exactly the best for cutting long pieces for rolls, but it ended up going okay. The main points that we followed were simply to cut in 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices, while cutting against the grain of the fish. Some more experience would get your sashimi looking much better than this, but we weren’t too worried about it.
The most hilarious part of the entire process was attempting to make the sushi rolls. Sashimi is easy: cut fish, dip in soy sauce, eat. Rolls as we found, are a different story. We were taken back to our primary school days of play-doh sculpting as we attempted to stick the rice down to the nori and instead ended up with the rice completely covering our hands. It was a disaster. Rice everywhere! Once we managed to get the rice covering the nori, we realized that we had put far too much rice, which caused the fish and avocado to explode out of it when attempting to roll. So here is our advice: wet your hands before grabbing the rice, use a thinner layer of rice on the nori than you think you need. We also found it easier to form the sushi rolls with the rice on the outside, and you can get more ingredients in the middle.
Our end product was not exactly picture perfect, but it tasted great all the same. We can’t wait to try our homemade sushi adventure again in the near future. Overall it was fairly straight forward process, and a lot of fun. We’d definitely recommend giving this a try!