Sunday, April 7, 2013

Matt and Vicky's Sushi Tutorial

By Vicky Nardone

One of Matt and my favorite types of restaurants to go to is Sushi Places. When we find something we really like, we always try to reproduce it ourselves.  Now that we've got the general idea we are always experimenting to try and reproduce our favorites that we've found in restaurants.  Today I'm going to share all of our tips and tricks for making our favorite types of sushi.  Before we start, I'm going to warn you that we generally tend to go for the more mild types of sushi, but if you enjoy some of the more adventurous choices this will be a good beginners reference for how to make sushi and you can change the fillings.


I'm going to start by going through a basic list of ingredients that we use and have collected for sushi making over the year and half or so since we started making it.

Nori paper or roasted seaweed is one of the essential ingredients.  We actually got this from a local Japanese/Chinese store, but we are also lucky enough to have one of the most awesome grocery stores in the world locally - Wegmans - who also sells it.  This will be the wrapping on your sushi that holds everything together.

We love to make Philadelphia rolls and smoked salmon is one of the main ingredients in them.  It's hard to tell from this package but we buy the long flat strips of smoked salmon.

I don't know about you but we don't have the money to throw at real crab legs every time we make sushi so we use the imitation stuff.  Crab is a very common sushi filling and is used in the California and Spider rolls I'm going to be talking about later on.

Rice vinegar is used for in combination with water when rolling the maki rolls to keep the rice from sticking to your fingers.

Tempura batter mix is a necessary ingredient for making tempura rolls or spider rolls.

Two of the most common types of fruits and vegetables in sushi are cucumbers and avocados.  The trick is to cut them as thin as possible.  The picture above shows ours ready to go into the maki rolls!

While sesame seeds are not an essential ingredient for sushi rolls I think they add a little bit of extra flavoring to your inside out rolls.

Last but not least is Unagi (eel) sushi sauce.  I checked out the ingredients and it doesn't actually appear to have eel in it, but it is a nice sweet sauce that goes great on spider rolls.  This one we looked for in supermarkets for a while, but the only place we could find it was Chinese/Japanese store that we got the Nori from.

The last essential ingredient is rice.  Unfortunately, our cat got into the rice bag and tore it up so I didn't have a picture of the actual packaging, but almost any grocery store has it.  Just look for the rice package that says sushi rice.

Also, you'll need a sushi rolling mat.  This is a pliable mat that looks like a number of wooden skewers tied up at the sides with rope.  Scroll down a little in the instructions to see what it looks like.  We got ours at Wegmans for about $4.

Basic Maki Roll Instructions

The first step is to make the rice.  We have a rice cooker that we got for our wedding that we use to make the rice but if you don't have one the good old pot with water method works too.  That's how we first started out when we began making sushi.  Let your rice cool for a little bit after it finishes cooking.  You're going to be working with it with your hands.

When the rice is almost finished cooking, slice up the vegetables.  As mentioned in the ingredients section, you'll want them as long and thin as possible.

For a regular sushi roll (as in not inside out) lay a sheet of nori paper on your sushi mat.

Spread a thin layer of rice over the nori paper leaving the last quarter of the sushi paper free for rolling.  You can use your hands to flatten down the rice.  We use a bowl of water with a little rice vinegar in it to dip our fingers in when working with the rice to keep it from sticking to our fingers.

This is what our finished sushi roll looks like before it gets rolled. This is a Philadelphia roll.

Use your sushi mat to slowly roll one end of the roll towards the other until the sushi roll is completely rolled up.  If the end of the roll isn't sticking, wet your finger in the water vinegar mixture and run it along the the edge of the sushi paper to seal up the roll.

Here is the finished product before its cut.

When you go to cut it, choose the sharpest knife you have.  Turn your faucet on low at the hottest heat and run your knife under water before each cut.  Each roll can usually be cut in between 6 and 10 pieces.

To make inside out rolls, follow the same basic instructions, but instead of starting with the nori paper, lay down a sheet of plastic wrap and spread the rice on top and then lay the nori paper on topy of that.


Tempura is one of the best kinds of sushi in my opinion.   Tempura is a light sweet fried batter usually put on seafood (shrimp, crab, lobster) within the rolls.  We chose to do spider rolls tonight, so we made crab tempura.

The tempura batter mix will have instructions on the side of the box.  Mix the specified amount of batter with water and stir.  The batter should be kind of thick so that it sticks to whatever you're cooking in it.

Coat your seafood in the batter and stick it in some hot oil to fry it up.  We actually have a deep fryer that we use for this step but you can cook up the oil on the stove in a wok or some other type of deep pan.  Cook the tempura in the oil until the batter is golden brown.

After they cook, you can use the tempura seafood to make the rolls following the instructions above.

Roll Types

The below are only a few types of the vast array of sushi rolls you can make.  Many of them are good introductions into sushi if you've never had it before.  The only raw one is the Philadelphia roll - the rest are cooked.  Once you have the basics down experiment and see what you can make!  The next type I want to try making are a kind that I had at my new favorite sushi place, Sakura - mango avocado rolls.

Veggie Rolls
Veggie Rolls were my first foray into the world of sushi.  To make these follow the basic sushi instructions with cucumber and avocado.  We made our veggie rolls inside out this time and sprinkled some sesame seeds on it.

California Rolls 
California rolls are another good beginner roll.  They are like the veggie roll with crab added.

Philadelphia Rolls
This is probably Matt's favorite type of roll.  It has smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese in it.  We made both a regular version and an inside out version.

Spider Rolls
The spider roll is a tempura version of the California roll.  It has crab tempura, avocado and cucumber in it.  I have also seen it made with lettuce instead of cucumber.  Drizzle some eel sauce over it and you've got a delicious treat!
We actually haven't made sushi in a while because it probably takes a couple hours to make from start to finish but it is so worth it!  Last night we were having a Dr. Who party to watch the second episode and all the friends we were having over were sushi lovers so we decided it was time.  We made quite a lot:
But it all got eaten!
If you've ever made sushi before, I'd love to hear your favorite combinations to make!
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