How to Make Sushi at Home

Sushi, for many, is a ridiculously guilty pleasure. It tastes amazing, it can have some not so great effects on your waistline (see how to eat sushi in a healthy way) but as we all know the most damage done by sushi is definitely on your wallet.

The fact of the matter is that if you’re going to enjoy some quality sushi fresh sushi from a Japanese restaurant you’re looking at least $20-$40 per person, go for a sushi restaurant in a trendy area with a chic atmosphere and be prepared to shell out some serious cash.

The occasional splurge on such a meal is fine, but if you’re among the leagues of members of “sushiholics anonymous” you may need to find some alternate means of getting your fix with spending all that dough. Don’t stress, you’re perfectly capable of making delicious sushi in your own home on a totally reasonable budget.

Now, keep in mind that most sushi chefs have been practicing for years so you’re not going to end up with the perfect sushi roll, and it may even take several attempts before really getting it down, but once you’ve learned how sushi will be in your arsenal of recipes.

Nervous to try it out on your own? Invite over a group of friends and have a sushi making party, any excuse to rock that sexy kimono in the back of your closet right?

First thing you’re going to want to do is gather your ingredients. This really depends on how confident you’re going to be with this venture. Are you going to stick to simple clean cuts of salmon and go for a more “Philadelphia roll” type of deal or are you going ambitious and busting out some tempura, all out “Caterpillar roll” style? If you’re a seasoned chef go for the goal, but if you’re oven is usually used for storage you may want to take it slow.

Decide seafood wise what kind of ingredients you want to work with. If you’re on a lower budget you’re going to be able to afford tuna more than salmon, but remember one thick cut will go a long way. A one pound salmon fillet will render about 4-6 sushi rolls. Tempura isn’t too hard to achieve if you’re one of the lucky ones who have a deep fryer, but again if cooking isn’t your usual forte you may want to stay away from that. If you’re thinking California rolls you don’t need to splurge, we’ll tell you the little trick sushi restaurants use to make imitation crab taste like the real deal.

Basically all the ingredients you need to find can be located in the “Asian Foods” section of your local grocery store.  Here are some things you may want to consider buying; imitation (or real) crab,  Panko style bread crumbs, tuna, salmon, shrimp, mayonnaise, Sririachi, white sushi rice,  Nori (sheets of seaweed),  sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar.

The rice:

girl holding sushi

Sushi rice is a big deal. Many sushi chefs believe that in order to have a perfect sushi roll the most important part is to have perfectly cooked rice. However, you’re not a sushi roll. You’re a woman with a job, and a dog to walk, and like eight people coming over in an hour so you’re just going to have to make due. No worries, here’s the quick way to make perfect sushi rice.

You’re going to want to have a rice cooker. Yes you can due it the old fashion way, but it’s going to get messy and it won’t be sticky enough, and parts of the rice will be sticking to the bottom of the pot…it’s just going to suck in general so trust me and invest in a good rice cooker. While the rice is cooking you’re going to want to boil half a cup of rice wine vinegar for every one cup of cooked rice you’re making. As soon as your vinegar reached a boil, take it off the heat and add half a teaspoon of sugar per half cup of vinegar. Take this lovely little concoction and stir into your cooked rice.

Not only will this give your rice the sticky consistency you need but it will make it taste amazing and the smell will be incredible. Seriously, you’re going to want to eat the rice by itself. Don’t though; you need it for the sushi.

The Nori (aka the seaweed)

The seaweed is pretty basic and easy to use. You want to take a clean towel, get it damp in small bowl of water (keep this around for your fingertips while rolling) and simply press it onto the strips of seaweed, dampening it so it becomes more flexible to roll the sushi in. A bamboo mat will really help with this but if you don’t have one rolling the sushi with your fingertips will work as well (remember keep those fingertips wet so the seaweed sticks to the rice not to your hand. If you are using a bamboo matt, lay down a clean strip of saran wrap over the matt first. This will make it easy to keep the roll in its shape when you remove the mat.

Now the world war causing controversy of whether to have the sushi rice on the inside or the outside is entirely up to you. Know that traditionally the rice is served on the inside, but it’s become popular to serve the rice on both the inside and the out. If you’re just beginning on the sushi venture we recommend keeping the rice on the inside of the rolls, to save you from the mess of having rice sticking to everywhere but where you want it to stick.

Also, if you’re not a big fan on the taste of seaweed, try squeezing a touch of lemon juice on the nori sheet before hand, and remember there are always alternatives you can use like soy or rice paper. You’re going to want to have a VERY sharp knife on hand to make sure the rolls cut easily and all the fillings don’t come spilling out, you may want to keep the saran wrap while slicing for extra help. Don’t hesitate to look up some videos of YouTube on rolling sushi, watching an example is always helps.

The Fillings:

If you’re having guests over for sushi night you want to make this as easy as possible for everyone so you can spend most of your time laughing at how deformed each others rolls look. In order to do that some prep I required. Slice whatever fish you’ve chosen into long 1 ½ inch thick slices that will easily fit into the sushi roll. Also prefix your imitation grab by lightly tossing it in mayo seasoned with garlic salt.

You can always briefly put the imitation crab in a food processor or dice your tuna to imitate some popular restaurant rolls but remember that this will make it more difficult to keep your rolls in tact when it comes time to slice them. If you’re going for a “spicy tuna” flavor toss the tuna in a little Sririachi that’s been mixed with some garlic powder and diced green onions.

The Toppings:

sushi set

Let’s be real, the sauce and toppings are what really make a sushi roll. You’ll be surprised at how easy they are to make at home. For example that super secret orange sauce that tastes so delicious on your favorite rolls is simply a combination of  ½ a cup of mayo,  a tablespoon of Sririachi sauce, and 4 tablespoons sesame oil.

Going for that delicious flavor found in Unagi (eel) sauce? Just mix ½ a cup of soy sauce with ½ a cup of sugar and half a cup of Mirin (a Japanese sweet wine).

Feel free to explore with toppings like Tampico (fish eggs) or tossing your completed rolls in Panko. Some of the greatest sushi restaurants are those that get creative with their rolls. If you have an idea feel free to try it out. Get creative with sauces and toppings, some sushi spots have even gone as far as tossing their rolls in crushed Doritos  (it sounds odd but it’s delicious). After all what’s the worst that can happen? If you make a horrible roll just name it after your ex.

Serving sides:

If Sushi isn’t everyone’s first choice (crazy I know, but often true), make sure to have some premade teriyaki or vegetable tempura on hand. Edamame is a must for starters and you can’t have an eventful sushi night without some hot sake shots on hand .

We know it sounds like a lot but once you get it down you will be beaming with  pride over your first successful roll, or if you never get it down stick to hand rolls .Once you see how many rolls you and your friends can make on  a reasonable budget, you may say goodbye to overpriced restaurants and hello to your new night job as sushi chef.

Let us know how your sushi night went. Was it a success? How many attempts did it take? Maybe you mastered it on the first shot, you sushi bombshell you. We’d love to hear about your experience and any tips you have for the rest of the YouQueen girls in the comment section below.

About the author


Jacqueline is a modern day gypsy, moving from France to England and now residing in Mexico. A sucker for instant gratification and anything that pleases the senses her world revolves around food (any and all food), foreign indie films, and salsa music.


Click here to post a comment