Eric Akis: How to make sushi rolls at home

Eric Akis

You really appreciate the skills of a well-trained sushi chef when you make sushi yourself. The chef makes it quickly, precisely, flavourfully and attractively, while home cooks can struggle, especially if they don’t often make sushi.

But that does not mean a home cook shouldn’t try. In fact, the more often you make sushi, the better you’ll get at doing so. It can also be fun.

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Today I’ve provided step-by-step photos and recipes for making sushi rolls.

There are many things you can fill sushi rolls with, such as crabmeat, shrimp, smoked salmon, tuna and other seafood; avocado and mango; pea and other shoots; and thin strips of raw vegetables, such as cucumber, carrot, green onion and bell peppers.

If you don’t care for the rolls I created recipes for, simply make the prepared sushi-rice recipe and create your own. The recipe yields enough rice to make three sushi rolls that, when cut, will yield 24 pieces of sushi.

The mat used to roll the sushi is made from thin lengths of bamboo held together with string. It’s sold at Asian markets and some hardware and other stores selling kitchenware.

Prepared Sushi Rice

This seasoned rice is sticky when cooked, making it hold together for sushi. The rice and nori sheets needed for the sushi are sold in the Asian-foods aisle of supermarkets. Brands of sushi rice include Nishiki, Lundberg and Kokuho Rose.

Preparation time: Five minutes
Cooking time: About 18 minutes
Makes: About three cups, enough for three sushi rolls

1 cup sushi rice

1 1/2 cups cold water

1 Tbsp + 2 tsp rice vinegar

2 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

3/4 tsp salt

Place rice in a medium pot (mine was seven inches wide). Cover rice with three inches of cold water. With your hands, vigorously rub the grains together to remove excess starch from the rice, about one minute. Pour rice into a sieve and let water drain five minutes.

Place rice back in the pot. Add 1 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat to its lowest setting. Cover and steam rice until tender, about 15 minutes.

While rice cooks, place vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil for a few seconds and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from the heat.

When cooked, spread rice into a large, at least 10-inch-wide shallow-sided pan. Thoroughly stir in the vinegar mixture. Cool rice to room temperature and it’s ready to use for sushi rolls.

Tuna Poke Roll

This roll is deliciously filled with Hawaiian-style tuna poke, cubes of the fish accented with salty, sweet, sour and spicy flavours.

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus marinating time
Cooking time: None
Makes: One roll; eight pieces when cut

70 grams frozen raw B.C. albacore tuna loin, thawed and cut into small, 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes (amount 1/2 cup; see Note)

1/2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp orange juice

1/2 tsp rice vinegar

1/2 tsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp Sriracha or other smooth hot chili sauce

1 tsp mayonnaise

1 nori sheet

1 tsp roasted sesame seeds (optional; see Note)

4 to 6 (4-inch long; about 1/4-inch wide) strips of green onion

• wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce, for serving

Pat cubes of tuna dry with paper towel. Combine 1/2 tsp soy sauce, juice, vinegar, sugar, oil, Sriracha and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Mix in tuna.

Cover a sushi mat with plastic wrap. Place the nori on the mat. Have on hand a small bowl of water.

Set about one packed cup of the prepared sushi rice on the nori. Dip your fingers in the water, then use them to spread the rice over the nori, leaving a one-inch strip at the top.

Make a horizontal, about one-inch-wide row of tuna-poke mixture about 1/3 of the way from the bottom edge of the nori. Sprinkle tuna with sesame seeds, if using. Make rows of green onion beside the tuna.

Tightly roll nori over the filling, squeezing the mat as you go along to compact the rice and filling. Continue rolling and squeezing until you reach the top edge (see Note). (Unroll the mat once or twice while you do this to ensure the plastic wrap is not being rolled into the sushi.)

Dip your finger in the water, run it along the top edge of the nori and press it into the roll to seal the edge.

Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into eight pieces. Set them on a plate and serve with wasabi paste, pickled ginger and soy sauce.

Note: Raw B.C. albacore tuna loin is sold frozen at many supermarkets and seafood stores. The pieces sold will be larger than you need here. When fish is partially thawed, cut off what you need for the sushi and freeze the rest for another time. Roasted sesame seeds are sold in the Asian-foods aisle of supermarkets.

Wasabi Shrimp, Cucumber and Mango Roll

This sushi roll is filled with wasabi-flavoured chopped shrimp, crunchy, refreshing cucumber and sweet mango. In stores, the small cooked shrimp used in the recipe, when from B.C., will be labelled “hand-peeled” shrimp.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: None
Makes: one roll; eight pieces when cut

75 grams small cooked shrimp, patted dry and coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/4 tsp wasabi paste, or to taste

1/4 tsp soy sauce

1 nori sheet

4 to 5 (four-inch-long, about 1/4-inch-wide) strips English cucumber

4 to 5 (four-inch-long, about 1/4-inch-wide) strips ripe mango

• wasabi paste, pickled ginger and soy sauce, for serving

Combine shrimp, mayonnaise, 1/4 tsp wasabi paste and soy sauce in a small bowl.

Cover a sushi mat with plastic wrap. Have on hand a small bowl of water.

Set about one packed cup of the prepared sushi rice on the nori. Dip your fingers in the water, then use them to spread the rice over the nori, leaving a one-inch strip at the top.

Make a horizontal, about one-inch-wide row of the shrimp mixture about 1/3 of the way from the bottom edge of the nori. Make rows of cucumber and mango beside the shrimp.

Tightly roll nori over the filling, squeezing the mat as you go along to compact the rice and filling. Continue rolling and squeezing until you reach the top edge. (Unroll the mat once or twice while you do this to ensure the plastic wrap is not being rolled into the sushi.)

Dip your finger in the water, run it along the top edge of the nori, and press it into the roll to seal the edge.

Use a very sharp knife to cut the roll into eight pieces. Set them on a plate and serve with wasabi paste, pickled ginger and soy sauce.

Candied Salmon and Avocado Roll

Sweet, smoky flakes of salmon and rich, buttery avocado combine in this sushi roll. Candied smoked salmon, sold in pieces or nuggets, is available at most supermarkets and seafood stores.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: None
Makes: one roll; eight pieces

70 grams skinless candied smoked salmon, flaked in small pieces

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp mayonnaise

1 nori sheet

1/2 small ripe avocado, peeled and cut, lengthwise, into thin wedges

• wasabi paste, pickled ginger and soy sauce, for serving

Combine salmon, 1 tsp soy sauce and mayonnaise in a small bowl.

Cover a sushi mat with plastic wrap. Have on hand a small bowl of water.

Set about one packed cup of the prepared sushi rice on the nori. Dip your fingers in the water, then use them to spread the rice over the nori, leaving a one-inch strip at the top.

Make a horizontal, about one-inch-wide row of the salmon mixture about 1/3 of the way from the bottom edge of the nori. Now make rows of green onion beside the salmon.

Tightly roll nori over the filling, squeezing the mat as you go along to compact the rice and filling. Continue rolling and squeezing until you reach the top edge. (Unroll the mat once or twice while you do this to ensure the plastic wrap is not being rolled into the sushi.)

Dip your finger in the water, run it along the top edge of the nori, and press it into the roll to seal the edge.

Use a very sharp knife to cut the roll into eight pieces. Set them on a plate and serve with wasabi paste, pickled ginger and soy sauce.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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