Sushi night is a beautiful thing.
First of all, sushi is delicious. Secondly, it’s customizable. And thirdly, it’s an activity you can eat. What’s not to love?
Oh. And sushi made at home is MUCH cheaper than what you’ll pay for going out and getting someone else to do it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for going to a sushi bar and getting some crazy tastiness. We also don’t have much access out here to sashimi-grade seafood (the mountains, y’all), so going out and getting someone else to do that work is a treat. But it’s expensive for good reason (the fish kind, that is). Vegetable sushi, on the other hand, is another story.
You can put pretty much anything you want into your sushi rolls. Like seriously, anything you want, and in whatever combination you want. We’ve had success with some of the following combinations (not an exhaustive list):
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese (AKA bagel roll)
- Cucumber, dill, and cream cheese (like a cucumber sandwich, get it?)
- Basically anything with cream cheese
- Tamago (Japanese egg crepe)
- Fried or roasted sweet potato
- Spicy tofu or tempeh (like spicy tuna, but without the tuna) – recipe follows
- Any fresh, cruciferous vegetable, like cucumbers, peppers, carrots, etc.
- Fried green tomato. Yep. You heard me.
The technique, no matter what you put inside the roll, is the same.
Homemade Sushi Tutorial
You will need:
- 1 recipe Sushi Rice (recipe follows)
- 5-6 sheets nori (seaweed sheets – you can find these at Asian groceries as well as the Asian section of the supermarket)
- small bowl of water
- sushi rolling mats or clean kitchen towels
- plastic/Saran wrap (optional, but it makes things SO much easier, and you can reuse the same piece of wrap for the whole set of rolls)
Step 1: Prep your fillings. Vegetables, tamago, and fish should be sliced thinly and in matchsticks for easy rolling. Cream cheese is most easily “spread” by putting it into a plastic bag and squeezing it like frosting into your roll (yeah, it sounds kind of weird, but it works!).
Step 2: Place sushi rolling mat or clean towel flat on a clean work surface. Place plastic wrap on top of the mat, followed by 1 sheet of nori.
Step 3: Dip your hands into the water bowl – this is used to keep the rice from sticking to your fingers, which will happen, as it’s sticky rice. Using a spoon and/or your fingers, spread a thin layer of the sushi rice onto the nori, making sure to evenly cover the surface of the nori.
Step 4: Place your filling(s) in an even layer at the bottom of your roll. Keep in mind that you want a good rice-to-filling ratio, as well as the ability to actually roll your sushi. Stronger-tasting ingredients can be used more sparingly, while milder veggies and tamago can be used with a little less discretion.
Step 5: Time to roll! Lifting the bottom of the sushi mat or towel, fold the bottom of the roll upward until you just cover the filling. Gently squeeze the roll you have created so the rice sticks and the nori stays together.
Step 6: Pull the plastic wrap towards you so that the bottom of the roll is again at the bottom of your sushi mat. Repeat Step 5 by rolling upwards again, squeezing, and repeating until you reach the end of your nori. It’s okay if it’s not pretty or perfect the first or even the fifth time – as long as it stays together, you’ve got a sushi roll!
Step 7: Using a sharp knife (we like using our bread knife, as it’s serrated and doesn’t squish our sushi rolls to oblivion), cut the roll into small, bite-sized slices. You can also be an animal and eat a sushi burrito – it’s your life and you can live out your dreams!
Sushi Rice Recipe
Makes about 5-6 cups of cooked rice.
You will need:
- 2 1/2 – 3 c sushi rice
- 3-4 c water
- 1/2 c seasoned sushi vinegar (you can buy this or make it yourself using rice vinegar and sugar)
- Rinse starch off of rice by placing it into a large bowl and covering it with cold water. Using a cupping motion with your hand, stir the rice until the starch comes off in the water, turning it a translucent white. Drain water and repeat 3-4 more times until the water is clear (or mostly so).
- Cook rice with the water in a saucepan with a lid on the stove or using a rice cooker. (Basic rice instructions: Bring water and rice to a boil, uncovered. Stir quickly with a fork, then cover and turn the heat to low for about 15-20 minutes.) Cooked rice quantity will be about triple the dry rice quantity (e.g., 1 cup dry rice = 3 cups cooked rice).
- Place hot rice into a large bowl. While the rice is still hot, drizzle seasoned vinegar onto the rice (using a slotted spoon or spatula does this really well). Using a spatula or wooden spoon, “cut” and fold the vinegar into the rice using a downward “stabby” motion. Basically, you don’t want to stir or roughly mix the rice, as it will become a sticky, gloopy mass that won’t be fun to work with or eat.
- Allow to cool briefly before using for sushi.
Spicy Tofu (or Tempeh) Filling for Sushi
You will need:
- 8 oz tofu or tempeh, cut into small cubes/pieces (we smoked our tofu, which made this even tastier, but it’s not required)
- 1/4 c mayonnaise
- 1/2-2 tbsp Sriracha (depending on how spicy you like it/how much you like Sriracha)
- Place mayonnaise and Sriracha into a small bowl and mix thoroughly, tasting and adding hot sauce as you wish.
- Add cubed tofu or tempeh into the mayo mixture and stir gently.
- Proceed with sushi rolling instructions and use as a filling! This recipe makes 2-3 rolls, depending on how crazy you go with the stuffing of your rolls.