Affordable Entertaining: How to Make Sushi
Sushi is sexy. It’s chic. It’s sophisticated, and it can be created to satisfy a wide range of eating preferences if you happen to be hosting a happy hour at home. It’s also one of those foods that is well-suited to those who are cooking for kids on a regular basis. Did I mention it’s also an incredibly cheap food to make? (See also: How to Shop for Fresh Fish)
You really only need a few items to get started, most of which you’ll be able to find at your local grocery store. In addition to the nori (seaweed sheets), sushi rice, and condiments such as soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger, popular ingredients include cucumber, imitation crab meat, cream cheese, sesame seeds, avocado, carrots, and various forms of seafood. It’s also helpful to have a bamboo rolling mat to help you get the shape right. A few simple sushi roll recipes are provided below.
The Classic California Roll
While definitely an Americanized version of the food, a California roll is one of the more popular choices at sushi restaurants across the country. Its ingredient list is pretty basic, making it the perfect choice to begin your sushi making adventures.
This is a fun twist on sushi that most people can pull off with a bit of practice. Basically, an inside-out sushi roll is assembled with the sticky rice on the outside and the nori on the inside along with the fillings. These are often decorated with black and white sesame seeds for extra texture.
Usually, there are only one or two options at sushi restaurants whenever my husband and I go out for this special treat. So I was excited to find this comprehensive list of vegan sushi ideas suitable for home entertainment and casual enjoyment alike. Bring on the chopsticks!
Similar to a California roll, a Boston roll uses shrimp instead of imitation crab meat. Assembly instructions are basically the same, and these can be very affordable to prepare for friends and family.
Professional Sushi-Making Tips
To help break the sushi-making process down, I contacted the sushi pros from HARU in Boston, a restaurant well-known for its sushi creations. They had advice on everything from handling the rice to positioning the seaweed sheets.
Water Is Wonderful
According the folks at HARU, water is what keeps the rice from sticking to your gloves when manipulating the sushi rice around on the nori sheets. They dip their gloves in a bit of water, but if you are making your own sushi at home, I’m sure dipping your hands in water would achieve the same result.
Rough It Up
Another tip I learned from my time with the guys from HARU is that the shiny, rougher side of the nori sheets provides the best grip for the rice, making it easier to create your custom rolls. So when you begin assembling your supplies to make sushi, be sure the rough side is facing up.
Timing Is Everything
Apparently, letting the seaweed sit for too long with the rice and toppings applied will make the nori sheets difficult to form into a roll. So it’s important to have your ingredients prepared in advance.
Size the Rice
When figuring out how much rice to put in a roll, the HARU folks recommend forming the cooked rice into a sphere that’s slightly smaller than a baseball. From there, start in the top left corner and then move toward the right of the nori sheet taking care to move — not press — and not exerting too much force on the rice ball.
Less Is More
If you put too much rice or too many ingredients into the roll when you make your own sushi, you run the risk of over-stuffing your creation. This will make it difficult to roll and shape. So keeping an eye on your ingredients is a good idea. To give you a better idea, I’ve included this demonstration video from Sustainable Sushi in Seattle.
If You Can’t Resist Stuffing, Go Vertical
For those that absolutely must have a larger roll with extra ingredients, turn your nori in a vertical direction before you begin assembling your sushi. This is called Futomaki. This alternative orientation of the seaweed sheet is more stable for the increased ingredients, helping you to be successful as you create your custom roll.
Cut With Care
Grabbing a dull cleaver and pressing down hard in the middle is sure bet for sabotaging your sushi-making efforts. Your knife must be exceptionally sharp, and your cuts need to be made in a careful sawing motion with a light touch. This will ensure your custom-created sushi roll looks its best when serving it up for your guests.
As you can see, all it takes is a bit of practice and a little help from the pros to learn how to make sushi at home. It’s great at any time of year (although I particularly love it for warmer weather) for dinner parties or a fun family lunch. Pair it with some homemade shrimp toast and a bit of miso soup, and you’ve got a great light meal. And if you make it with vegetables only, you’ve got another great way to go vegan on the cheap.