In my experience, restaurant sushi is as delicious as it is expensive, a very special treat to indulge in. However, simple and tasty sushi isn’t something terribly difficult or costly to make at home. This little ‘Intro to Sushi’ course is great for those of us who want to eat some sushi and still keep a little green in our wallets.
I’m keeping it simple on my homemade sushi night for several reasons. First off, I’m no expert; I’m familiar with Japanese American style food but in no way an expert in traditional Japanese fare and I only know the basics. Second, it’s winter in the mountains and I’m far too lazy to drive over the passes to go to an Asian market for specialty items and vegetables. Third, I don’t have a deep fryer, fancy gadgets or any specialty equipment for making tempura items or super flashy rolls. Lastly, I’m on a budget! I don’t exactly have the cash to fill us up on fresh sashimi. This dinner costs more than my average weeknight meals do, but it’s certainly less than you’d pay at a sushi restaurant!
This little menu is great for both types of sushi beginners. It’s only a few types of rolls to learn and perfect you skills on for the amateur sushi chef; and if you’re new to eating sushi, these rolls aren’t filled with any strange or expensive ingredients and there’s no raw fish. Make a night of it and learn to make sushi with your friends! Even if some of your rolls look like ugly ducklings (some of mine certainly do!), they’ll still taste like beautiful, delicious swans in your tummy.
Now, on to the nitty-gritty. One of the things I do know about Japanese food (and culture!), is that it’s about having great basics as a foundation then building a great dish with quality ingredients. So, make some nice sushi rice, learn to make a solid roll, and fill it with whatever things you like.
This dinner serves 4, making approximately 3-4 small long rolls and 2-4 hand rolls per person. Cost only $1.97 per serving!
- 3 cups Short grain sushi rice ($.89)
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1/3 cup Rice vinegar
RINSE THE RICE, SEVERAL TIMES, TILL THE WATER IS ALMOST CLEAR. This step is important (because my Mom and Grandma say it is) and it warrants the gratuitous use of Caps Lock. Cook the rice as per your rice cooker’s directions. When it’s hot, put the rice into a wide, shallow container to cool it down. I used a 9″x13″ baking dish. Combine the sugar and rice vinegar in a small bowl and microwave it for about 30 seconds then stir it up. Heating up the mixture helps to dissolve the sugar a bit. Drizzle the mixture over the rice and use a spatula to gently stir the rice, this serves two purposes: to mix it all up and to cool down the rice. Cover with a damp cloth and let cool completely at room temp. No need to refrigerate.
Take a second to look and see if your rice vinegar is ‘seasoned.’ Either way, taste the rice to see if it needs salt or what not. Trust your tongue!
Veggie and Egg Rolls
- 2 carrots – simmer 2 minutes in salted water with a small piece of ginger in it, then blanch in cold water ($.10)
- 1-2 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced ($1.25)
- 1/2 avocado – thinly slice as you go along, so that it doesn’t turn brown ($.50)
- 4 eggs – make a scrambled egg omelet, however you like your eggs ($.56)
- 1/2 package, 5 sheets, sushi nori ($1.04)
- Sushi Rice
So, I realized that I don’t have a little bamboo mat for rolling the sushi, but a gallon sized zipper bag with a thin catalog inside works pretty well! (I used the Victoria’s Secret swimsuit catalog, if that’s of any importance…)
Before you start, lay out everything you think you’ll need. Here’s what I thought I’d need.
Aside from the ingredients, you need: a cutting board for a work surface, a scary sharp knife (for cutting the finished rolls), a regular knife (for cutting ingredients), scissors, a small bowl of water (for cleaning your fingers), plastic wrap, a ‘rolling mat’ (or magazine inside a ziplock).
Start by laying down a square of plastic wrap. Lay a rectangle of nori (if you have large square sheet, cut them in half) on the plastic. There’s a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ side to have on the outside, but honestly, I can’t remember which is which. I have a hunch it’s purely aesthetic. Put a very thin layer or rice down, leaving a 1/4″ gap at the top of the rectangle. Use a very light touch, don’t mash the rice down on the seaweed. Then lay your ingredients in the middle of the rice.
Use the plastic and the ‘rolling mat’ to make the edges of the rice meet up, and the uncovered gap of seaweed will seal the roll closed. Use the ‘rolling mat’ to give the finished roll a firm, all over squeeze. It helps if you get a cute fireman to assist you.
Spicy California Rolls
- 1/2 lb of imitation crab – for me, it’s one of the things I can barely taste the difference on if it’s in a preparation like this. If you’re feeling spendy, and want to treat yourself, go and get some real crab meat! ($1.75)
- 1/4 cup mayo ($.25)
- Sriracha hot sauce – to taste
- 1 Tbs cilantro, minced
- 1/2 avocado ($.25)
- 1/2 package, 5 sheets, sushi nori ($1.04)
- Sushi Rice
- Toasted sesame seeds – optional topping
- Seaweed seasonings – optional topping
To make the filling, shred and mix the imitation crab with the mayo, Sriracha hot sauce and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Begin this roll by laying a rectangle of nori down on a square of plastic wrap. Cover the entire rectangle of seaweed with a thin layer of rice. You can put some sesame seeds on top for decoration.
Flip the seaweed over then put your fillings in. I like the crab mix, cucumber and avocado. Make sure you don’t over fill, less is more!
Use the plastic wrap and the ‘rolling mat’ to close up the roll. Again, use the ‘rolling mat’ to give the finished roll a firm, all over squeeze.
If all this seems like too much of a pain in the patootie, you can just make some simple hand rolls. Take a small square (1/4 of a sheet) of nori, put all your goodies inside, then roll it up like a cone. Much easier.
Now use your dangerously sharp knife to cut the rolls while they’re still in the plastic wrap. Remove the plastic, grab some chopsticks and chow down. See? Sushi night at home is totally awesome!