I know I say this a lot, but sushi is honestly one of the greatest foods on the plant. Now I know what you might be thinking, “I thought you were vegetarian?” I’m technically pescatarian, which means the only meat product I eat is fish, but usually when I say that no one knows what I’m talking about so I just say vegetarian for simplicity. Also, fish is expensive for a college student on a budget so in reality I only eat it when I can afford it (which is almost never). But enough about me lets get onto the sushi!
Contrary to the preceding paragraph, for my first attempt at sushi, I decided to keep it simple and try some cucumber avocado rolls. These were super delicious but very stressful to make/roll so I am going to provide some tips that I think will be helpful along with the recipe! Also, before you read this and think “Holy moly this is a lot of work!” just think about how much cheaper this is compared to going out and buying sushi at a restaurant!
- Sushi rice
- Rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- Granulated sugar
- 1 package of Nori sheets
- Any vegetables you’d like (carrot, avocado, cucumber)
- **Fish (tuna, crab, eel)
Optional: Soy Sauce, wasabi, ginger
*Note: I am not writing the quantities of the ingredients for the rice because that will depend on how much sushi you want to make. In the Directions section, I will give you a breakdown of the ratios and how to figure out how much you need.
**Note: If you intend to put fish in your sushi make sure you are buying Sushi Grade Fish! If you google “where can I buy fish for sushi?” you should get results for local fish markets. If the fish is not sushi grade you will get sick!
Before we begin, I would like to address some kitchen tools that could be helpful. For rolling the sushi, you could go out and buy a cheap bamboo rolling mat, or use the super cheap method I’m about to explain. Take a thin towel, one that’s wider than your nori, and wrap it completely in plastic wrap. That’s it, just wrap a towel and go!
- Measure out 2 1/2 cups of sushi rice.
- This will make approximately 13 rolls. Each cup of dry rice yields about 5 rolls.
- Rinse sushi rice using a cheesecloth. Do not stop rinsing the rice until the water runs clear.
- Fill a large pot with an equal amount of water (2 1/2 cups).
- You should always use a 1:1 ratio of water to rice.
- Cover the pot with a towel and then the lid to ensure no steam escapes and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 23 minutes.
- 2 cups of rice take about 20 minutes to cook. The 23 minutes listed above is a rough estimate for 2 1/2 cups of rice.
- Turn off heat and let rice stand for 10 minutes, keeping it covered.
- While the rice is resting, prepare the sauce. Mix rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved completely.
- For each cup of dry rice use 1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar, 2 1/4 tsp granulated sugar and 3/4 tsp salt.
- Do not let the sauce boil!
- Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl and fluff with a fork. Allow it to cool slightly.
- The rice is cooled enough when steam stops rising.
- Drizzle the rice with the vinegar mixture and mix using a fork or chopsticks.
- Continue to mix the rice until it is at room temperature and the rice has a nice shine.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the vegetables and fish, if applicable.
- Vegetables such as carrots and cucumber should be julienned (meaning sliced into thin strips). For cucumbers, peel the skin, cut it in half length-wise and scoop the seeds out before slicing.
- Avocados should be very ripe to ensure they are soft and can easily be rolled. Cut the avocado in half and then slice it into 1/4 inch strips.
- Different fish should be cut differently, but in general, it should be in thin slices. To know how to prepare specific fish for sushi, googling it is your best bet.
Rolls (with rice on the outside)
- Before rolling anything, make sure you have a bowl of room temperature water that you can use for your hands and for the knife.
- Split the nori sheets in half by folding them down the middle and continually folding back and forth until it splits.
- Make sure you are creasing the edge with each fold. Typically folding it once both ways will loosen it enough to split it in half.
- If you want to rolls with rice on the inside, do not split the rolls in half. You will have some excess when rolling (you will only use a little over half of the sheet) but you will need to buy a second package of nori sheets.
- If you are using a makeshift rolling mat, slightly wet the plastic wrap and place the nori sheet down with the rough side facing up.
- Wet your fingers and grab a small handful of rice. Place it on the nori and spread to make an even layer.
- You do not want this rice layer to be too thick. Roughly 1/3 of a cup of rice should be used.
- Make sure you are pressing/packing the rice down so it sticks to the nori. It may help to wet your fingers again and then press the rice down.
- Lift and flip the nori over so the rice side is now facing the mat.
- As long as you pressed the rice in it will not fall off when flipping.
- Place the filling off center, closer to you. Make sure you do not put too much filling otherwise you will not be able to roll the sushi.
- If you are using something soft, such as avocado, place that on the side closer to you. This ensures that when you are rolling it will not get squeezed out.
- Position your sushi so it’s close to the edge of the mat. Using your thumbs, lift the two edges of the sushi and begin to roll it over. Use your other fingers to crimp the edges down/under during the rolling motion.
- This can be very tricky/frustrating. If it helps, watch some youtube videos on how to roll sushi while you are rolling.
- Before finishing your roll, you should have about a cm of nori sticking out so when you completely roll over, the rice makes contact with the other side to seal it together. This is why the amount of filling is important because if you put too much, the roll will not seal properly.
- Once the sushi is rolled, keep it covered with the mat and pinch it slightly (make C’s with your hands) starting from the middle and working your way to the edge, to flatten the bottom and ensure it is sealed.
- Transfer the roll to a cutting board. Wet a nonserrated knife. Lightly hold pressure on the sushi, straddling your thumb and pointer finger between the center of the roll. Use long straight cuts, putting minimal pressure on the blade, to make the first cut.
- Be gentle and patient when cutting. If you are too rough, the roll can open up.
- Line up the two halves so they are touching and then cut 3 more times to make a total of 8 pieces of sushi.
That wasn’t terrible, right? Ever since I made these I’ve been wanting to do it again! It does take a lot of time and work though so I would definitely suggest this as a Friday Night or Weekend Dinner.
What’s your favorite kind of sushi? Let me know in the comments below!