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Making Sushi Rolls From Scratch

Char is a creative writer, artist, and inventor—in and out of the kitchen.


When a person begins a project, there is always the initial doubt. Can I make it? Will it turn out well? Will it be edible?

These are all things to ponder when making something one has hardly any knowledge about. Like sushi. Up until now, sushi has meant fish to me. Apparently, sushi is the rice that is cooked until the water has dried out, and the rice becomes a trifle overcooked. Is that the correct analogy?

My sushi container says that you must cook it for 20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Do not open the pan in this period. Normally, you'd bring to a boil, add your rice, and shut off in a spot where there is no heat. You know, you let the rice absorb the boiled water for five minutes and you're good to go.

Well. Sushi rice seems to be a little different process. You bring to a boil with the water, and then let it cook for 20 minutes. After you shut the heat off, you then apparently let it rest for 10 minutes, and then add some rice vinegar and some sugar. There must be some sort of chemical reaction at that point. Or a miracle. Whichever you believe in.

The sushi rice is a different cut of rice than what I normally use. It's a short grain, according to the package. So, now you know as much as I know.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

30 min

1 hour

Feeds 2 people


  • 1/2 cup uncooked sushi rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 sheet seaweed
  • 6 cooked shrimp, sliced in half
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1/4 cup avocado, sliced into strips
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, ground


  1. Cook rice according to package. Mix capful of rice vinegar to rice. Add salt and sesame seeds to cooked rice. Spread rice onto seaweed sheet. Add shrimp, avocado, wasabi powder. Roll up. Cut and serve.

Cool Down

The rice needs to be body temperature when you start. That makes sense. Warm enough to work with, but, as it sits on a cool plate, it will stiffen up.

Filling - Avocado

The filling that I have is a collection of things that I think will taste yummy together. I purchased an avocado, which is almost squishy enough to use now. It was as hard as a rock the day I bought it, but I let it sit on my counter for a few days and it is not hard now.

I plan to peel it and slice the avocado into strips. Hopefully it is possible to cut into strips. I suppose if it gets too ripe, it will just mush for me. I guess I will not worry about that. I won't notice when it's inside my sushi roll.

Filling - Shrimp

My plan is to finely chop some frozen shrimp that I have. Thaw it and cut cross ways into small round pieces. Perhaps, in the spirit of having pieces, I should actually cut it the long way and place the strips on instead of small pieces.

Filling - Sesame Seeds

I have heard various reports about the sesame seeds. I purchased a bottle of whole white sesame seed. I think that a person is supposed to heat them up and toast them before they start. Lightly toast since they are so thin and may burn easily.

Ranks up there with caramelizing onions, I suppose. You can use an onion raw, but the flavor that you get when you brown it in butter is so different, and sweeter.

The sesame seeds are for crunch. I have a toaster oven, and I put a capful of sesame seeds on aluminum foil on their metal pan and ran the seeds through the toast cycle, once. That was enough to make them golden brown. The flavor reminds me of when you roast pumpkin seeds.

Rolling - Seaweed Sheet

In the spirit of adventure, I did find some seaweed sheets that I plan to use.

The package contains 10 sheets, so I can make more than one roll. You use one per sushi roll.

To the best of my knowledge, the seaweed sheet is placed down first and the sushi rice is spread across the sheet to the corners.

The fillings are placed on the side closest to you. Probably only a small, square area. I will assume that it is a one inch area or so, across the entire side of the seaweed sheet. Two ingredients wide or so.

Actually, I ended up putting the fillings on the side furthest away from me.

Rolling the Sushi Roll

So, here's the idea. I got a package of chopsticks and they are connected at one end. My plan is to put them on the end of the seaweed, about a half inch in, like a bobby pin. Place my rice across, covering the chop stick. I'll only have one above, and one below.

Actually, I should use two sets of chop sticks, one going the opposite direction as well. Then, as I turn the chop sticks away from me, the sushi roll should roll up, and when it reaches the other end, I will pull both chop sticks out, leaving the sushi and seaweed rolled up like a sleeping bag.

I think that when they are rolled by professionals, they use some sort of a mat to compress the roll and keep it together. The rice is sticky and cooperates. I think wax paper or plastic wrap will have to be under the initial seaweed.

The biggest question in my mind is, should the sushi rice go down first, or the seaweed sheet. I think that I could do it either way. Well. I'll find out with my first batch of sushi.


The rice was easy enough. You wash it until the water runs clear. Use cold water. Then, put the washed rice in your pan. Add the water. Bring to a boil, cover and turn down.

Be careful. At this point, as the pan is cooling down, the rice will threaten to bubble up and boil over. Just keep lifting the pan up until the boiling settles down. Do not, under any circumstances, lift the lid up. Leave it down. 20 minutes.

Then, when the 20 minutes is up, leave the lid down, and take the pan off the heat and put it on a cutting board to cool for 10 more minutes. Leave the cover on. After the 10 minutes is up, move the rice to a plastic bowl. Not metal. The rice will come out of the pan in a sheet. If that happens, you have done well, grasshopper. Let it rest for a few minutes in the bowl and add a capful of rice vinegar and add some sea salt. This is the time to add your sesame seeds to your rice. Stir.

Building Your Roll

I used a piece of aluminum foil for my bamboo matt. I used a seaweed sheet and piled all my sticky rice on the seaweed sheet. I did leave a small space for the final inch. When you roll your roll, the last bit of seaweed gets sticky and will seal your roll.

Try to keep your hands dry when you handle the seaweed.

The shrimp, avocado and wasabi powder went on the rice on the far end of the seaweed sheet. I did finally insert my connected chopsticks to the end of the seaweed and used it to keep rolling my seaweed onto the rice. I also used the aluminum foil to help keep the whole pile tight as I rolled it.

Then, when I was done rolling it, I moistened the end of the seaweed and sealed the edge.

I kept the aluminum foil on the roll until I cut across the entire roll, in one inch segments.

Then, I removed the foil and flipped each roll over on its side. I got out some soy sauce and dipped the sushi roll into the soy sauce.

Success! My first attempt at sushi rolls was a complete success!