Roll It Up! – A Guide On How To Make Sushi


home made sushiChecked off the list: October 31, 2013

I don’t know about you, but if sushi was the only food left on this planet, I would be perfectly content with that. Not only does it look like an a piece of art, but it tastes delicious and comes in many varieties. If you want to consume sushi more often than you allow yourself because you don’t want to break your bank by going out to a restaurant, all you need is a few ingredients, some practice, and an appetite for some edible art!

Before we dive in to this tasty tubular sushi dinner making experience, I just want to ask, how did November get here so quickly? I was cutting it quite close! I wasn’t going to allow myself to miss my personal goal of completing one item off my bucket list per month, so I squeezed it in tonight to meet my October goal. Can’t let myself or you guys ‘n gals down! If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to try to do one thing off of your list each month as well.

As a novice sushi chef, well, maybe not quite a chef yet, so let’s just say sushi maker for now, I’m excited to report that our dinner didn’t turn into a total disaster tonight. Phew! Maybe after I get more practice and improve the consistency of the rice, we can revisit that title. I’ve enjoyed sushi and many other Japanese dishes for as long as I can remember but have never tried to make it at home until today. I’m not the best when it comes to cooking but I am working on my skills and aiming to ditch the bad rep my friends and family have given me many years ago (all in good spirit though!). I know there were valid times I totally deserved getting told to leave the kitchen, but I love food and I’m going to learn how cook damn well some day.

Before deciding on what types of rolls I wanted to create, I asked some friends and readers for advice before hitting up 99 Ranch, this amazing local Asian grocery store that Zane discovered on Reddit. Such a great find, thank you! I wish I had more time to explore it because the aisles of products seemed endless and there were so many foods I had never heard of or tried before.

photo 1

Here are the essential ingredients that you will need to get started (makes 2-3 rolls):

  • Short-grain white rice (2/3 cup)
  • Rice vinegar (2 Tbsp)
  • White sugar (2 Tbsp)
  • Dried nori (seaweed sheets)
  • Salt (1 tsp)
  • Water (1 1/3 cup)
  • Bamboo rolling mat
  • Plastic wrap

As far as ingredients that you want to put into your Maki, or roll, you can get as creative as you’d like! Vegetables, fruits, meat, seafood, the combinations are endless! I chose to make several combinations using sushi grade raw tuna, salmon, roe, artificial crab meat, black sesame seeds, cucumber, carrot, mango, and avocado. As a sauce fiend, I also purchased some low-sodium soy sauce, wasabi, and made spicy mayo by combining mayonnaise and Sriracha chili sauce. To make the spicy mayo, mix those two ingredients with as much or as little Sriracha that you prefer. After all, sauce really is life’s flavor enhancer.

Listpiration How To Make Sushi Listpiration Sushi How to make sushi

Let’s get started on how to make the rice, as it’s the most important part. In a medium size pot, bring water to a boil, add the rice, cover, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. While this is happening, mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. When the rice is cooked, add it to this same bowl and mix well. Let it sit for a while until it cools down. While the rice was cooking, I chopped everything up into long strips so it would be almost as wide as the nori sheet that was spread out on the bamboo roller.

photo 5Once the rice is ready, brace yourself for some fun! Cover your bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap, place a sheet of nori on top, then add some rice to it so that a thin layer covers the whole sheet of nori. You can use a wooden paddle/spoon to help pat it down or use your finger tips. Be sure to dip your fingers in some water between each pat down so that the rice doesn’t remain stuck to you and it’s easier to spread out. Once the rice is spread evenly, add your favorite ingredients.

Are you ready to roll yet? Let’s get to it! Dip your fingers in some water again and dab it on the ends of the nori so that they stick together when you roll. Lift the end of the mat and begin rolling everything into a tube, pressing gently. Keep rolling forward and then you should be all set. Grab a sharp knife to cut your roll into pieces. Dip your knife in water between each cut so the rice won’t stick to it. That’s all there is to it! If this is your first time making sushi, take your time with everything. Speed will come with experience. Our first roll took a while until we developed a technique with the rice placement and rolling tightly. Every roll after was quicker and better than the last.

photo 1If your first roll doesn’t look as pretty as you would have imagined, don’t get down on yourself. Just pick yourself up and keep on rolling! My first roll (see photo on left) was extremely goopy and couldn’t hold it’s shape. I tried to fix it, but, as you can see, it wasn’t very presentable as it fell apart. At least it was delicious. For the first batch, I realized the recipe I got from another site didn’t work so well with the rice I purchased. It called for an extra tablespoon of vinegar and sugar, which I revised above in the ingredient list because the second batch I made worked much better with the adjustments. Check out the improved and final product in the first photo of this post. Not too shabby for a first time, right? Definitely no sushi chef extraordinaire, but it tasted great. My boyfriend was a huge help with this and we had a really fun time learning together!

Altogether, groceries cost $46 and about half of that was used on the much more perishable fish and vegetables. Everything else can still be used to make more sushi or even other meals. The bag of rice, sesame seeds, sauces, and other items will last quite some time in my pantry so the cost for this one dinner was relatively low, especially for two people. We did end up having some salmon and vegetables left over as I got too carried away while shopping but think we could have fed another person or two with amount I purchased. Next time we’ll have to host a sushi party or just eat sushi for days. No complaints here though.

Overall, it was a really fun experience and I look forward to trying again, exploring new recipes, and improving my technique.

Have you made sushi before? What advice would you give out to novices like myself? Do you have a favorite maki recipe? I’d love to hear from you!


  1. You have inspired me to roll it up this wknd!

  2. Great photos and write up!!! Inspiring too!

  3. Your presentation is very well done. I hope the product was as good…
    Do you know how well sushi goes with sake? Try that next time.

  4. I’d eat that! Now I am craving sushi. Can you come over and make me a couple of rolls? 😉

  5. How cool Ak! Very well done!!! I enjoyed reading the blog! Happy your sushi turned out so well!! I think there is also a 99 Ranch in Phoenix. 🙂 Happy Saturday!

  6. Wow.. a bucket list from someone under 50! Go figure.. glad you used Sushi grade fish.. where did you get it from… wait you live next to the ocean… my bad! 😉

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