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A Beginner's Guide to Making Sushi

Updated on June 23, 2016

Sushi is becoming more and more popular all around the world. Eating out for sushi can be a great experience, but is often quite expensive. Making your own sushi is really fun and easy to do, and might save you some money as well. I will tell you how to make 2 different types of sushi that will impress your friends and family - and possibly even convert some non-sushi lovers!

The thought of making your own sushi can be intimidating. People are often scared about using raw fish. I have overcome this problem by not using any raw fish, and I will recommend you do the same unless you have a good source of sashimi grade fish. Sushi making is also perceived as too complex. With these simple recipes, a few basic tools and some fresh ingredients, you will soon be making sushi with ease.

Making sushi rice

Ingredients:

  • Sushi rice - 1 1/2 cups uncooked - makes around 4 cups cooked rice or enough for 4 maki rolls
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Rice vinegar - 1/3 cup
  • Sugar - 2 tbsp
  • Salt - 1 tsp

The rice is probably the most important part of the sushi experience. The key thing is to prepare your rice well in advance to allow cooling time. Rinse the rice off well with water to remove excess starch, and then drain well. Add the rice to the water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let it stand for at least 10 minutes. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt together. Pour the mixture over the rice to help it cool, then stir, making sure to coat every grain of rice. Make sure the rice cools completely before you start making your sushi.

Making sushi balls - super easy

These are little balls of rice with a little filling on top. If you don't like the seaweed or just want to start off with a really easy recipe, then this is the one for you. These are so easy to make, and the end result is almost as impressive and just as delicious! You will need:

  • Sushi rice
  • Plastic wrap (cling film)
  • Fillings - cooked prawns (shrimp), smoked salmon, and avocado work well
  • Soy sauce, wasabi (Japanese horseradish), and pickled ginger, to serve (if desired)
  1. Prepare your sushi rice (as above)
  2. Prepare your filling. If your prawns are uncooked, then butterfly and cook them in a frying pan with a tiny splash of oil. If they are already cooked then cut them in half so they are nice and flat.
  3. Lay out several sheets of plastic wrap. Place your filling in the middle of each one. Wet your hands in a bowl of water, then take a walnut-sized handful of rice and shape it into a ball. Place it on top of your filling. Wrap up the cling film and then twist the end so that it compresses the rice and filling into a perfect little bite-sized ball.
  4. Remove the plastic wrap just before serving, and serve with little bowls of soy sauce for dipping and wasabi and pickled ginger on the side if desired.

Making maki rolls

Maki rolls are what most people think of when you say sushi. This rolled sushi is made with rice, filling and nori (flat sheets of seaweed). Once you get the hang of rolling them, they are quite easy to make - so your first roll or two might not be pretty, but it will get better! You will need:

  • Sushi rice
  • Bamboo rolling mat (makisu) - these mats are pretty cheap and make it much easier to make maki rolls without tearing the seaweed, but you could try using a placemat or some sheets of plastic wrap stuck together if you don't have one.
  • Nori sheets - dried sheets of seaweed - sometimes available in regular supermarkets, otherwise try a Japanese/Asian market or online
  • Fish/seafood fillings - cooked shrimp/prawns, smoked salmon, canned tuna, canned crabmeat, imitation crab stick (pick your favourites)
  • Veggie fillings - cucumber, avocado, spring onion, yellow or red pepper, carrot, mango (again, pick whatever you like)
  • Soy sauce, wasabi (Japanese horseradish), and pickled ginger, to serve (if desired).

Get your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start.
Get your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start.
Put 2 handfuls of sushi rice for each maki roll.
Put 2 handfuls of sushi rice for each maki roll.
Press down the rice evenly, making sure not to tear the nori. Leave a 1 inch gap with no rice at the top.
Press down the rice evenly, making sure not to tear the nori. Leave a 1 inch gap with no rice at the top.
Put your fillings 1-2 inches from the bottom of the sheet.
Put your fillings 1-2 inches from the bottom of the sheet.
Fold the bottom of the nori over the fillings firmly. Then roll it the rest of the way and seal by wetting the nori with water.
Fold the bottom of the nori over the fillings firmly. Then roll it the rest of the way and seal by wetting the nori with water.
Slice the roll into bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife.
Slice the roll into bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife.
  1. Make your sushi rice (as above)
  2. Prep your ingredients. Cut your veggies into long, thin pieces. If you are using canned tuna, mix it up with a bit of mayonnaise and maybe a tiny touch of wasabi, or however you like it. If you're using cooked prawns, you may need to halve them if they're large.
  3. Place 1 nori sheet shiny side down on your bamboo mat. Wet your hands in a bowl of water, then grab 2 handfuls of sushi rice and place them on the nori. Keeping your hands wet, press down the rice thinly and evenly over the nori, leaving about a one inch gap with no rice on the top end.
  4. Place your ingredients on top of the rice 1-2 inches from the bottom of your mat (leave a bigger gap if you are adding a lot of fillings). Spread them evenly over the full width of your sheet. Keep in mind that you will later cut your roll into slices so make sure every bite will be as tasty as the next. Be careful not to overfill your roll (this will come with experience, so start off with less fillings and build your way up).
  5. Using your mat, start rolling your sushi. Fold the bottom of the sheet over the top of the ingredients and press it down gently onto the rice. Now readjust your bamboo mat and finish rolling it up. Wet the top edge of the seaweed with a little water to stick it all together. To clean your bamboo mat when you're finished rolling, just soak it in a little water, but don't use soap.
  6. Slice your roll into bite-sized pieces with a very sharp knife when you're ready to serve. If you have made your rolls in advance, keep them in the fridge (for no more than a day - the sooner you serve them, the better) until you are ready to slice and serve.
  7. Serve your sushi with little bowls of soy sauce and some wasabi and pickled ginger on the side, if desired.

I hope you've enjoyed this beginner's guide to making sushi. Making sushi is a wonderful group activity - I learned how to make it at a sushi-making party. Invite your friends over or get your kids involved. Just get your rice and fillings prepped before you get started and have fun with it!

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    • profile image

      Brett 11 months ago

      What's your last name? I need to cite one of your posts but I don't know your last name.

    • profile image

      Iaroslav 4 years ago

      Hi and thanks for making it easy for beginners!

      I :)

    • maalarue profile image

      John Mark 4 years ago from Texas

      I love sushi. Thanks.

    • nochance profile image

      Chloe Davis Smith 5 years ago from Minnesota

      I've recently discovered that I really like sushi and have always wanted to try to make it but I never knew how. This tutorial is really great. Thanks so much.

    • RolyRetro profile image

      RolyRetro 5 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK

      I developed an expensive sushi habit whilst living in Bermuda, and now back in the UK I have tried to make my own Sushi, which was a really satisfying process. Worst bit, washing the rice, best bit, cutting the finished rolls! Quite time consuming but well worth the effort!

      Great hub.

      Roly

    • danielleantosz profile image

      danielleantosz 5 years ago from Florida

      I have been looking for a great sushi tutorial, this is perfect! I like the sushi ball idea, it seems like an easy way to get started.

    • chirls profile image
      Author

      chirls 7 years ago from Indiana (for now)

      themist - Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. Sushi is something I'm passionate about, too! Glad you enjoyed my sushi recipes. Let me know how it turns out. :)

    • themist profile image

      themist 7 years ago from London

      Oh my god, sushi is like the only food I am passionate about. I've never thought about making my own though! Bookmarked for future reference. :)

    • chirls profile image
      Author

      chirls 7 years ago from Indiana (for now)

      It's so satisfying to make your own sushi, plus it's fun to make. I hope you like it!

      It's so funny that you said it was beer thirty right then, since I had just made the same comment myself!

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      I love sushi too. Thanks for the recipes. I am going to bookmark and rate up! Is it beer thirty? lol

    • chirls profile image
      Author

      chirls 7 years ago from Indiana (for now)

      Susan, thanks for reading and commenting. I just started using this rice recipe - I used to use less vinegar and sugar, but I like it better this way. Enjoy!

    • Susan Carter profile image

      Susan Carter 7 years ago

      I love sushi. Now I know how to make the best rice for it. Thanks for the recipe.