Food Friday : Making Sushi Rolls at Home!

Making sushi rolls at home is pretty easy and lots of fun, not to mention you get to eat your creation!

I first discovered how to do it when I decided to treat Nick to a homemade sushi dinner for his birthday one year. I had such a good time going around to the Asian shops in our area buying the little dishes, bowls and platters that would make the meal more authentic and enhance the surprise. And for added enjoyment I wore the Japanese kimono I have which was a gift from my father from one of his many business trips to Japan.

I also picked up the only kitchen tool that was absolutely necessary in the making of this dish, which was the sushi rolling mat. Aside from that, you will need:
– Roasted Nori (which are the seaweed sheets),
– Sushi rice (which is a short-grain rice and is necessary to make this dish work because it is stickier than regular rice),
– Seasoned Rice-wine vinegar (which is used to flavour the rice after it has been cooked. You can season your own rice-wine vinegar by adding sugar and salt, but we just buy the kind that is already seasoned. It will say so on the bottle),
Brewed Soy Sauce (we use the Kikkoman brand. Note brewed Soy sauce is different than regular but it is very easy to find).

Extra items that are nice but not absolutely necessary include:
– Wasabi (which is a green paste made from horseradish. It is hot and spicy so used with care. It comes already mixed in paste-form or in a powder form that you add water to.)
– Pickled Ginger
– Mayonnaise and Hot Pepper Oil to make Spicy Sushi Sauce (mixing these two ingredients together will give you the exact sauce Japanese restaurants use to turn your “tuna roll” into a “spicy tuna roll”. We like to serve it with any type of sushi because you know I love the spicy stuff! You can also make this by adding hot sauce to mayonnaise and adding hot pepper flakes.)
– Black sesame seeds (found in Asian markets)
– Caviar

Choose whatever filling you want, as long as they are cut in thin pieces:
– avocado, carrot (slightly steamed after cutting into long thing strips), cucumber, green onion, soaked dried mushrooms, tuna or salmon (cooked or raw), sweatened and cooked egg, cooked shrimp. The familiar California rolls are made with avocado and pollock (a fish used to imitate crab. It may be an imitation but it’s real fish and is good!) and topped with caviar.

We made a combination of vegetable rolls and shrimp rolls, using the left-over grilled shrimp from last week’s barbeque (shown here: Barbecuing Fun).

To make sushi rolls: Cook sushi rice as per the directions on the package. Note that you use less water for this type of rice because it has to be more dry to properly form the rolls. We cook ours in the microwave oven (which in my opinion is the best rice cooker going, for any type of rice) for 40 minutes at 60% power. Mix cooked rice with seasoned vinegar, breaking up all lumps. We use 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups water + 1/2 cup seasoned rice-wine vinegar.

Lay a piece of Nori on your rolling mat (note some rolling mats have two sides; make sure the side with rounded edges is face-up so it will roll better. If your mat is the same on both sides, ignore that part. Busted: If you look closely at the pictures you’ll see that Nick has his mat upside down!) Spoon on some rice, add your toppings, and roll! It may take some practice but you’ll get it, and then you’ll be very proud of yourself. Seal the edge with some water. Cut the long roll into bite-size pieces. Dip one end into black sesame seeds if using, or top with a small mound of caviar. Serve with wasabi, soy sauce, pickled ginger and spicy sauce.

It’s easiest to make all your rolls and then cut them into pieces. Extra uncut rolls can be stored in the fridge for a day or so.

For our recent lunch we used some handmade square plates that were a wedding gift. Our chopsticks and rests were some that I got for Nick for our ‘wooden’ anniversary (the 5th). I was stumped on what to get and this great idea was Julie’s, a friend from work.

Here are some shots of us shopping for ingredients at this neat Japanese store* that’s in our neighbourhood (but you will be able to find what you need in any Asian market).

I was so tempted to buy that cute little cat plate!

Thanks very much for sharing our sushi roll making experience. I hope you try it yourself sometime!
xo loulou

* The store is called Sanko and is located at 730 Queen Street West in Toronto.