Making your own sushi is a surprisingly easy process and creates a beautiful array of appetizers or centerpiece for a special meal. The most difficult part of the process in Vermont is obtaining really high quality raw fish. If you do have a good source, that’s great! If not, there are plenty of other delicious ingredients that can be used to make flavorful and colorful sushi rolls.
The only piece of equipment that is unique to the sushi-making process is a bamboo sushi rolling mat. They’re widely available online for less than five dollars, however, and don’t take up much room in a drawer.
Prepare your rice:
True sushi rice should be white and short grain, prepared with rice vinegar. Cook one cup of rice with just over one cup water. Cover pot and bring to boil. Simmer, covered, for about 10 additional minutes until water has been absorbed. Taste rice to make sure it is cooked through. If so, stir in two tablespoons rice vinegar and a dash of salt. Allow to rest, covered for a few more minutes so any grains stuck to your pot release.
Decide on your flavors:
“Sticked” or thin log shapes (imagine a carrot stick or baby carrot) work best for rolling into sushi. Thick spreads like cream cheese can also work well. Very hard things or ingredients in small pieces or bits work less well. I like avocado slices, pieces of cooked sweet potato (extra credit for marinating them ahead of time), marinated tofu slices, smoked salmon (if you don’t have a reliable source for raw), red onions, egg strips (beat eggs with salt and sesame oil, fry in a flat “pancake” in a frying pan, cut into strips), and various pickled vegetables. I often scan the fridge for leftovers that could be included.
Prepare your prep counter:
Gather everything you need on a counter with plenty of space. I gather: my rice pot, a bowl of water for dipping fingers, a sharp knife, a cutting board, a bamboo rolling mat, nori (seaweed) sheets, ingredients for inside the sushi, and a platter for completed rolls.
Roll the sushi:
It will become much more clear how to make a nice sushi roll after trying it once! Here’s my best effort to explain using words: Lay out your bamboo mat and place a sheet of nori on top, closer to the left side of the mat. Dip your fingers in water to moisten them. This keeps the rice from sticking. Take a handful of rice and push it into a thin layer covering the left half of your piece of nori. Arrange your ingredients in a modest strip from the top to bottom along the left edge of the rice. Moisten the bare right hand side of the nori with water.
Begin to roll the left edge over and around your ingredient strip. When the left edge touches down, keep the bamboo mat up (so you don’t roll it into the sushi, and continue to roll the sushi until you’ve reached the end of the nori. Give the whole roll (with the bamboo still around the outside) a gentle squeeze to bond everything together. Your ultimate goal is to have enough rice to wrap around your inside ingredients, with extra nori to bind to itself, making a strong outer layer. No matter how it comes out, it will taste good!
Open up the bamboo mat and lay the sushi roll on a cutting board. Moisten the blade of a sharp knife with water. Gently slice your roll into pieces of sushi and arrange on your platter.
We serve our sushi with a dipping sauce (soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and hot pepper paste), pickled ginger, and wasabi. Yum!