We love sushi! We rarely go out for it, though; this is probably because a) we both come from families where food is something that happens at home, so we enjoy eating in our kitchen for most meals, and b) I work at a nonprofit and Reese is a public school teacher– our jobs are rewarding in many ways, but their financial rewards are modest.
We had to figure out how to make sushi. There was no way around it. We just love it too much to save it for the special occasions on which we go out for dinner.
Time was a-wastin’, so we got to work. We discovered a few things we thought you might like to know before you embark on your maki adventure.
- All the ingredients have to be of really good quality. The stuff in your rolls got nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide. If you put a mealy apple in your roll, you will have a mouthful of mealy apple when you bite into your sushi. I know this is simple advice, but it will also be impactful.
- The making of sushi involves a lot of cutting things into smaller things. Sharp, sharp knives will make your life much easier.
- Sushi is like salad in that it is a really good opportunity to get creative with flavor combinations. Orange, avocado, and spinach? Give it a shot and see if you like it!
- 1 recipe seasoned brown rice (see below)
- 4-5 sheets nori (should be able to find this an Asian grocer or health food store)
- Stuff to put in ’em (see Filling Tips, below)
- Lay one sheet of nori on a bamboo rolling mat with the short end toward you (portrait, not landscape). A small kitchen towel covered with parchment paper might work in place of the mat, but the rolling mats are $2 and are really helpful.
- Cover the entire sheet of nori except the top 2 inches with rice, all the way out to the edges. This should be about half a cup of cooked rice per sheet, but no need to worry about the exact amount.
- Arrange the fillings horizontally in the middle of the rice-covered nori sheet, and moisten the naked 2″ of nori with water (i.e. wet fingers).
- Now, take the mat/ sushi setup in both hands and roll the sushi away from you, cradling the roll in both hands, and pressing gently onto the roll to compress the fillings and rice. The moistened edge of the nori will hold it all together. Be confident! Sure, you can!
- When you get to the end, roll gently back and forth inside the mat a few times to make sure it sticks together.
- Now it’s time to slice your rolls into pieces. Get a sharp knife and cut the roll in half, then cut each half in half, then cut each quarter in half, so you have 8 pieces. Important: wipe your knife on a damp towel or paper towel after each cut, otherwise you’ll mangle your sushis!
- Put on a plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Beautiful!
The rice is important. If you have ever had sushi made with unseasoned rice, or you have ever tried to make sushi with unsticky rice, you know what I mean. Don’t try to use basmati here, even if you love it so much you use it in everything else, like my Dad does. (Hi, Dad!)
- 1 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice
- Pinch salt
- 1 Tbsp agave
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Place the rice in a small saucepan with 2 cups water. Let soak for 20 minutes, covered, if you have time.
- Uncover the rice and turn the heat on high. Bring to a rolling boil, then add the pinch of salt. Stir once, then cover and turn the heat down low.
- Simmer the rice for 40 minutes without lifting the lid (this also means you do not stir it).
- When the rice has absorbed all the water, turn the heat off and let the rice rest for 10 minutes.
- While the rice rests, combine the agave and vinegar in a medium pyrex, glass, or ceramic bowl, and stir to make sure they are mixed.
- When the rice is done napping, turn it out into the bowl with the agave and vinegar. Mix with a large spoon, encouraging the rice to become stickier.
Get a bunch of stuff you think would make good sushi. Wash and chop it into matchsticks.
Cucumber – this imparts a refreshing flavor and subtle crunch to your roll. Be sure to peel it first, then cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then cut into matchsticks. The texture of the seeds won’t be nice in the roll.
Avocado – good in everything, sushi is no exception!
Sweet potato – baked whole, peeled, and then sliced into strips, it’s a terrific addition to a roll
Radish sprouts – totally legit! We got them at Duc Loi, the Korean supermarket in our neighborhood that also sells Latin specialties and kombucha and has an organic bulk section (I love you, San Francisco!), but you should be able to find them at any well-stocked Asian grocer. If yours still have the seeds & roots attached, chop them off before you add to your roll.
Other things that would be great but weren’t in our dinner tonight – shiitake mushrooms, shizo (Japanese herb that tastes like a cross between mint and basil and tomato leaves), bell peppers, shredded beets, julienned carrots, unless you hate them (I do; sorry, carrots!). You can also add crushed nuts or fruit.
…And about the texture – Try to combine soft things with crunchy things. The sweet flavor of sweet potato pairs beautifully with avocado, but a roll with only avocado and sweet potato might remind you of baby food. Add some spinach and cucumber for crunch, though, and you’re in business!
On the table
Serve with wasabi, picked ginger slices, soy sauce, and a bowl of miso soup on the side.