If you’ve ever watched the sushi chefs at a Japanese restaurant, you’ve seen firsthand the skill and precision needed to make a wide variety of sushi rolls. Sushi chefs train for several years to become masters of their craft. But that doesn’t mean you can’t form your own sushi rolls at home. While you may not possess the same skill, speed and experience as a master sushi chef, with a bit of practice (and some sushi-grade ingredients), you’ll be able to put together a few rolls with ease.
There are several different styles of sushi, but the most common one in the United States is the maki roll—sushi that has been rolled up in nori seaweed and then sliced into pieces. In addition to seaweed, maki rolls might also include soy paper, shiso leaves or very thinly sliced cucumber.
Typically, sushi chefs use a bamboo mat called a makisu to make the maki rolls. You can find a makisu for purchase at Amazon or at Asian supermarkets. However, it is also possible to make sushi using a simple tea towel instead of a mat.
How to Make Sushi With a Bamboo Mat
For starters, you are going to need these ingredients:
Sushi rice—this is not ordinary cooked rice, but a specific kind of rice with seasoned vinegar and other ingredients added. You can make your own sushi rice at home too.
Sushi-grade fish—Asian supermarkets and some fishmongers often have sushi-grade fish, such as tuna or salmon, for sale. You can also opt for crab stick or shrimp if you prefer cooked ingredients. Or, you can use cucumber, avocado and other ingredients commonly found in maki sushi rolls.
Nori—nori seaweed for sushi is sold in toasted sheets measuring about 10 inches by 10 inches. You can warm the sheets in a 300°F oven for one to two minutes to make them more pliable. You will need half a sheet to make a maki roll.
To begin, lay out your bamboo mat, and place a sheet of nori in the center. Then spread about a cup of rice over it.
Note: If you want to have rice on the outside rather than within, spread about a cup of sushi rice on the bamboo mat first instead, and then place the nori over it. The rice should be somewhat warm and sticky, keeping it from adhering to the mat. You may also first place plastic wrap over the mat to ensure no rice sticks in its crevices when you roll the sushi.
Next, select your ingredients, and lay them across the rice and nori from left to right, throughout the central area of the nori and rice.
Now you are ready to roll your sushi! Grab the edges of the mat closest to you and begin rolling it up and over away from you, applying slight pressure as you roll so as to keep the sushi firmly pressed together.
Lift up the mat slightly to see how you are doing, and then complete the roll as necessary.
It may take you a few tries to get the hang of it and to judge the right amount of ingredients, but you’ll soon be on your way to enjoying homemade maki rolls!
How to Make Sushi Without a Bamboo Mat
If you do not have a bamboo mat, not to worry. You can make use of a simple dish towel and achieve the same results.
Simply lay out the towel, and place plastic wrap over it so that none of the ingredients will actually be touching the towel. Then repeat the steps above, using the towel to roll your sushi instead of the bamboo mat.
Again, you may need a little practice, but you’ll find a towel is just as effective as a makisu. Enjoy!