How to Make Homemade Sushi

Roll call!

California Roll
California Roll | Photo by Meredith.

Make your own sushi! Making sushi at home is surprisingly simple. We'll start with how to make sushi for beginners, which means sushi rolls. With just a little practice, you can make sushi rolls at home that are as dazzling to look at as they are delicious to eat.

How to Make Sushi Rolls

Today, we're making a variation on the California roll. Along with sushi rice and sheets of seaweed (nori), California rolls require only a few ingredients: crab meat (or imitation), avocado, and cucumber. If you like, mix the crab meat with a little mayo to create a creamy consistency.

To this basic list of ingredients, we've added sliced carrots and cooked shrimp...because that's how we (sushi) roll. Before we got further, a quick note on sushi rice. You can't use just any rice for sushi. Sushi rice is a special preparation of rice flavored with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. It's made from short-grain rice (Japonica), typically made in Japan and parts of California and Italy. With homemade sushi rice, you're aiming for rice that's fluffy and a little sticky but not too sticky. Give it a try -- you'll get the hang of it. See how to make sushi rice.

Here's What You'll Need:

To make sushi at home, you'll need a few essential tools for making sushi:

How to Make California Roll Sushi

This is the traditional way to roll any type of rolled sushi, which is called maki sushi. There are actually two options for this method: rolling with the sushi rice on top of the sheet of nori, as we do here; or with the nori flipped over so the rice ends up on the outside of the finished roll (uramaki sushi).

1. Place the bamboo rolling mat (you can get one for as little as $7 on Amazon) on a cutting board so the bamboo strips are running horizontally to you. Spread a strip of plastic wrap over the bamboo mat. Then place a sheet (or a half sheet) of nori on the plastic wrap.

Laying nori on plastic wrap on bamboo mat
Laying nori on plastic wrap on bamboo mat | Photo by Meredith.

2. Spread a thin layer of sushi rice over the nori. (See below for more about making perfect sushi rice.)

Don't use too much rice. With a little practice, you'll get a feel for how much rice to use. We're spreading about 1 cup of rice per whole sheet of nori, leaving a small space at the top edge of the nori so you can seal up the roll.

PRO TIP: Wet your fingers as you spread the sticky sushi rice over the nori.

Spreading sushi rice onto nori
Spreading sushi rice onto nori | Photo by Meredith.

3. Add your ingredients toward the center of the rice-covered nori. Don't overpack it. If you're making a roll with the rice on the outside, simply turn the nori over, placing it rice-side down on the rolling mat. Then add your ingredients to the top of the nori.

Putting sushi ingredients toward center
Putting ingredients toward center | Photo by Meredith.

4. Gently lift the bottom of the mat up and over the sushi. Press and shape the ingredients into a tube. Roll with pressure so you get a firm roll.

Rolling sushi in bamboo mat
Rolling sushi in bamboo mat | Photo by Meredith.

5. Roll until just an inch of nori shows at the top. Seal the edge of the nori with a little cold water. Firm it up by squeezing the mat around the roll until it feels uniformly snug. Be careful not to squeeze so hard that the ingredients are smashed or come oozing out the sides. It's a fine line; with practice you'll get the feel of it.

Rolling sushi and dampening edge with water
Dampening edge with water | Photo by Meredith.

6. Slice the sushi roll in half with a sharp knife on a cutting board. Then cut each half into thirds -- so you have 6 pieces of sushi. To get a nice clean cut, wet the knife with water each time you make a slice.

Cutting a roll of Sushi
Cutting sushi | Photo by Meredith.

7. Line the slices of sushi up on platters or sushi plates. Enjoy with soy sauce, wasabi paste, and pickled ginger, and a little chopped daikon if you like.

VIDEO: How to Make Homemade Sushi: California Rolls

OK, now let's watch sushi chef Hitoshi make a California roll. You'll notice he rolled his in the inside-out style, with the rice on the outside of the nori -- and he garnished the rice with a sprinkling of roe. Because he's a pro.

A Guide to Popular Sushi Rolls

Once you can make a California roll, you're ready to roll spicy tuna, tiger, Philadelphia, or Seattle rolls, too. Here are some of the most popular sushi rolls with their common ingredients -- plus dipping sauce and condiment suggestions.

Know Your Sushi Rolls
By Allrecipes.

Several Sushi Roll Recipes

OK, now that you know how to make your own sushi at home, let's roll on with some choice sushi roll recipes:

Make It a Sushi Party!

Here's how to make sushi at home for a group. "This recipe includes everything you need for a sushi dinner party for about 10 people," says the recipe submitter, Marcia. "It includes California rolls, Boston rolls, lobster rolls, tempura eggplant and avocado rolls, pesto and egg rolls, and shrimp and asparagus rolls. We did not include any raw ingredients, since our people are a bit squeamish. Mix and match the fillings, as desired. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi paste, and soy sauce."

VIDEO: How to Make Nigiri Sushi

Are you ready for the advanced course in sushi making? Nigiri sushi is made with thin slices of fresh raw fish (also cooked shrimp and egg omelet) on top of molded sushi rice, held in place with a light dab of wasabi paste. See how it's done:

Check out our collection of Sushi Recipes.


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