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  • Writer's pictureRock Rousseau

HOW TO Make Perfect Sushi

Sushi is fun and less expensive to make at home, especially when you can put all your favorite ingredients into your very own custom roll. Homemade Sushi is so much cheaper than going to a Sushi bar or restaurant.

Keep in mind that making sushi is not easy, but will become easier with practice. It is always good to keep a few things in mind during your first attempts. These HOW TO tips will greatly guide you with making epic sushi at home. Even if your first few attempts don’t turn out the way you envisioned, don’t get discouraged. Even if messy and not perfect, they will still be delicious. I would recommend making a few times before planning to make sushi for a dinner party or family gathering.

  • 4 Nori seaweed sheets

  • 1 cup uncooked sushi rice-( I recommend Nishiki Sushi Rice)

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/4 cup preferred seasoned Rice Vinegar

  • 1/2 lb strips of imitation crab meat or desired raw fish of choice (must be Sushi Grade- see list of common protein fillings below for alternatives)

  • 4 oz cream cheese, sliced into strips (see list of common protein fillings below for alternatives)

  • 1 Hass avocado, sliced (see list of common veggie fillings below for alternatives)


  • Toasted sesame seeds and/or chia seeds

  • Sriracha chili sauce

Serve with:

  • Wasabi

  • Pickled ginger


Click the icon below to view ingredient alternatives that satisfy the following dietary needs:

Medium mixing bowl, mixing spoon, measuring spoons, measuring cups, Makisu bamboo mat (or you can use a thick hand towel as well), plastic wrap, Long and sharp knife, Cutting board, bowl of water Prep: 60 minutes prep Ready: 60 minutes Serves: 4 rolls

Purchasing Ingredients You can find many of these ingredients at your local Asian food market or if your grocery store has an international food aisle. Some markets even arrange them next to the store-made sushi for convenient pick up. Rice: Use polished (white) short-grain Japanese rice (japonica) or medium-grain California rice. These types of rice are often labeled as sushi rice or Calrose rice. I recommend Nishiki Sushi Rice. Brown rice and Quinoa works excellent too! Seawood: More commonly known as Nori. Use a thick Nori instead of a thin sheet which would be more flimsy. Make sure you get seaweed specific for sushi-making, which it should state on the package. Fish: Buy sushi grade fish or other seafood if you intend to eat anything raw. Only use raw fish if the seller or packaging specifically states it meant to be consumed raw, and make sure it’s kept cool right until processing and consumption. Fish fillets should be frozen for at least one day prior to making sushi in order to kill any parasites. You don’t need a lot of fish to make a couple rolls; approximately 75 grams of fish per roll. For the best flavor and texture in oily, purchase strong-smelling fresh fish, such as salmon, tuna, crab meat, shrimp, and mackerel. Otherwise you risk illness from parasites and bacterial contamination. And handle your food carefully, being particularly careful to keep your raw ingredients well chilled when not in use. Avoid cross contamination! Never let your raw ingredients touch anything other than your utensils and the food you intend to eat it with. Veggies. Purchase ripe vegetables, including Hass avocados When purchasing ingredients, plan to purchase enough ingredients to make the preferred amount of rolls. The average person consumes about 2 rolls per sitting.

Common fruit and veggie fillings:

  • cucumber

  • avocado

  • asparagus

  • jalapeño

  • green onion

  • carrots

  • yuca

  • sprouts

  • lettuce

  • bell peppers

  • red onion

  • pineapple

  • strawberry

  • mango

  • kiwi

  • blackberry

  • raspberry

  • pineapple

  • apple

  • pear

Common protein fillings:

  • shrimp tempura

  • crabmeat

  • sashimi grade tuna

  • chicken

  • sashimi grade salmon

  • tofu

  • cream cheese

Step 1: Boil the Rice

1. Pour water into a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. For every cup of rice, use 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then mix 1 teaspoon salt into the water.

2. Pour rice into the boiling water. Stir just enough to separate the rice Use a wooden spoon to separate any clumps.

TIP: Don’t over-stir: That can cause the rice to become sticky.

3. Cover the pot and simmer. Be sure the lid fits tightly on the pot. Turn down the heat to its lowest setting. Let rice simmer for about 20 minutes.

TIP: Cooking the rice is the only time-consuming part of the entire process. While it cooks, save time by prepping your fish, veggies, and sauces!

4. Remove from heat and let the rice sit, covered for 10 minutes to ensure that the rice is fully cooked. Rice should be tender and all water should be absorbed.

TIP: Take a taste test to ensure that your rice is perfectly fluffy.

Step 2: Season the Rice 1. In a measuring cup, add 1/4 cup of vinegar:

  • Seasoned rice vinegar: Pour in measuring cup. No additional salt or sugar is required.

  • Unseasoned white vinegar: Add 1/4 cup of vinegar, two teaspoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool in measuring cup.

TIP: Add seasoning once rice has cooled to room temperature. Use 1/4 cup of vinegar per cup of rice.

2. Stir vinegar into the pot of cooked rice. The rice will seem very wet, but continue to fold in the seasoning as the rice will dry as it cools.

TIP: Don’t overwork the rice when seasoning; Sushi rice needs air to stay fluffy. Use a cutting and folding motion as to avoid crushing the rice and making a paste. You want to keep the grains as intact as possible.

3. Fluff rice with a fork, and taste. Add more salt and sugar if preferred.

4. Add seasoned rice to a bowl and cover with a damp hand towel. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so rice is cool enough to handle.

TIP: Rice can be made hours before making sushi as long as the damp towel covers the top of the rice to maintain its moisture level. Once the rice is cooled, it will be ready to roll!

Step 3: Prepare the Fillings 1. While the rice is cooking, prepare the fillings that you wish to use.

  • Fish: Rub fish fillet with fine sea salt and refrigerate for 30 minutes; rinse the fish well and pat dry. Slice across the grain into strips about 4 inches long and 1/4 inch thick.

  • Veggies: Remove seeds (if any) and slice vertically into matchstick shapes and set aside.

  • Cream cheese: Slice cheese into strips about 4 inches long and 1/4 inch thick.

Avocados: Cut a ripe Hass avocado in half. Carefully strike the pit with the blade of a heavy chef's knife, then twist the knife to remove the pit. Peel the halves, then cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Cutting an Avocado This is probably one of the more meticulous vegetable preparations that sushi chefs perform:

The easiest method for slicing the avocado:

1. Use sharp knife to cut down center of avocado lengthwise. You will most likely bump into the pit towards the center.

2. Using a twisting motion, cut around the pit and through the rest of the avocado.

3. Use a spoon to scoop out the and remove the pit. Carefully remove the pit and discard it.

4. Using your hands, gently peel off the skin. Peeling it by hand gives each avocado an ideal texture and prevents them from becoming too bruised on the edges.

5. Repeat previous step for both halves. Place each half, flat side facing you, onto your cutting board.

6. Slice avocado meat to create thin 4mm cuts lengthwise across the entire avocado.

Step 4: Form the Maki and add fillings

1. Lay out your bamboo mat, and top with a sheet of plastic wrap.

TIP: To avoid messy clean-up and scrubbing, wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap. You can also use a thick hand towel instead of a bamboo mat. It acts just like a bamboo mat and also wipes up your mess when you’re done. Because it’s so flexible it allows you to shape and roll the rice effortlessly into a perfect roll.

TIP: Keep in mind, sticky rice is very sticky! Keep a bowl of water and a kitchen towel close to you when making sushi. 2. Lay a sheet of Nori on top of the plastic wrap, smooth shiny-side down. TIP: Before handling the sticky rice, wet your hands in the bowl of water; this will keep the rice from sticking to your fingers and help to mold your rice ball.

3. Roll a softball-sized ball of sticky rice that will fit inside one hand; approximately ½ cup. That will yield the correct amount of rice per roll.

4. Place the rice ball in the center of the Nori sheet. Flatten the ball gently with a rice paddle; Do not smash the rice. Continue to spread the rice all over the Nori, re-wetting your hands and paddle as necessary.

5. Use the paddle to spread rice evenly; creating a layer on top of the seaweed sheet. Leave a 1/4-inch border at the top edge.

6. Line up your toppings in the center, end to end, very close to each other.

  • For rice on the inside: line your veggies +/or seafood on top of the rice.

  • For rice on the outside: flip the sheet of Nori so the rice touches the plastic wrap and then add your vegetables to the seaweed-only side.

Step 5: Roll the Maki

1. Dampen the 1/4 inch border of the Nori with a little bit of water

2. Begin to roll mat up slowly and firmly from the bottom towards the top border. Roll the bamboo mat up and away from you, curling the Nori and rice around the filling. Use your fingers to hold the filling in place as you roll.

3. Continue to tightly roll the mat to bind the ingredients into the center of the rice.

4. Repeat the process until you’ve rolled the entire sheet of rice, Nori, and veggies into a spiral. Give it one last squeeze and secure the roll with the 1/4-inch border flap of Nori.

5. Once the roll is sealed, gently squeeze, pressing gently on the top and sides, to push out any air pockets in the roll.

6. Press on each end of the roll to make a neat surface.

TIP: Depending on how dry/moist the Nori is, you may need to keep the roll bound in bamboo mat for a few minutes to help maintain the seal.

Step 6: Slice Rolls into Sushi

1. Lift the roll off the bamboo mat and transfer it to a cutting board.

2. Use a sharp and long knife for slicing the roll. Gently slice the roll into 1 inch slices.

TIP: Dip the tip of a long, sharp knife into water; let the water run down the length of the blade. A sharp wet blade will cut through the Nori seamlessly.

Step 7: Add Toppings and Sauce to Sushi

1. If preferred, add toppings to your Sushi. There are a variety of toppings that you can sprinkle or lay on top of your Sushi, including:

  • Chia seeds

  • sesame seeds

  • thin slices of fish

  • shrimp or crab salad

  • sliced almonds

  • crushed pecans

  • crushed French onions

  • spicy baked seafood

  • sliced mango

  • chopped green onion

  • Avocado

  • Pickled Ginger

  • Wasabi

2. If preferred, add sauce to your Sushi. There are a variety of sauces that you can add or lay on top of your Sushi. The most common is Soy Sauce.

Coming Soon- recipes for variety of different sauces in our 10 Epic Sushi Recipes.

3. Serve with chop sticks and enjoy!

TIP: Do not keep sushi overnight. The longer you keep the raw fish, you risk bacteria growth and illness. Also, refrigerated rice gets hard and dry, and doesn’t reheat well. Sushi is something that should be eaten freshly made.

Making Nigiri

A very common type of sushi is nigiri – fingers of sticky rice topped with a small filet of fish or seafood. This is basically Sushi that is a block of rice with protein and/or veggies place on top without rolling in Nori. There's a simple method that also helps to keep things from getting messy!

1. Clean an empty ice cube tray and dry thoroughly.

2. Spread a layer of plastic wrap on top of the ice cube tray.

3. In each cube, add the veggies and protein and press against plastic wrap to the bottom of the tray.

4. Add a heaping TBSN of sticky rice inside each cube and firmly press rice inside to form rectangular shaped rice cubes.

5. Place a flat plate on top of the cube tray and invert it.

6. Lift the tray to separate from the plastic wrap.

7. Remove the plastic wrap, leaving the perfectly shaped Nigiri cubes.

8. Serve and enjoy!

Calories: 190kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 92mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g

Packed with fresh fish, crunchy vegetables and fiber-filled rice, sushi can be a nutrient-packed, healthy meal. One wrong step, however, can add an abundance of fat, calories or sodium.

Some traditional sushi rolls made with raw fish, vegetables, rice and nori are low in calories. To make the calories you consume even lower, start subtracting ingredients. Remove the fish to make a veggie roll to bring the calorie count down to 170. A piece of sashimi, which nixes the rice, is only 35 calories, when you prepare it with tuna. Avoid tempura, or fried sushi, as well as spicy sauces made with mayonnaise, as they both increase the calories.

The outer seafood wrap of nori is a staple in Japanese cuisine. It’s very low in calories but is plentiful in nutrients such as vitamins A, B-6 and C, as well as in minerals like iodine. Additionally, the proteins in seaweed could reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.

Much of the nutritional impact of sushi comes from the fish or seafood in the roll. Salmon and tuna are both healthy options because they’re high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Mackerel is also rich in omega-3s, as is selenium, which is a mineral that might help protect against cancer. Sushi does not have to contain fish; it can be made with any type of seafood. Other nutritious options for fillings include shrimp, scallops and eel.

To boost your intake of nutrients, look for sushi rolls that contain vegetables as well as seafood. Some rolls, such as the California roll, include avocado, which is a source of healthy fat. To increase your intake of fiber, ask for sushi made with brown rice instead of white rice, and don’t forget the condiments that come with sushi. Spicy wasabi contains antioxidants and pickled ginger is an antimicrobial and antiviral agent. Skip the soy sauce, though, as it’s loaded with sodium.

Sushi has its benefits, but certain types of fish can contain too much mercury. Consuming too much mercury can cause problems with vision, memory, headaches and hair loss. The Food and Drug Administration recommends shying away from shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, due to mercury content, and sticking to shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish. Tuna, a sushi staple, has moderate levels of mercury. The FDA recommends keeping your fish-centric meals to no more than 12 ounces a week.

Albariño with Tempura

Albariño bursts with flavors of lemon, lime, green peas and blossom, with high acidity and a slight bitterness on the finish. Winner winner, prawn tempura dinner: this is phenomenal with the sweetness of the shrimp, the oiliness of the deep fried Panko, and the acidity of the sauce.

Grüner Veltliner with a Dragon Roll (Cucumber and Avocado)

This Austrian native variety is rarely grown elsewhere. These wines have high acidity and flavors of white pepper, green peas, lime, and lemon. It could play really well with a Dragon Roll (eel, crab, cucumber, avocado, eel sauce). The razor sharp acidity cuts through the richness of the sauce and sticky rice, and the green flavors dance wonderfully well alongside the cucumber and avocado.

Prosecco with a Chopped Scallop Roll

This northern Italian tank-method sparkler has a bright, peachy, lemony fruit essence, sometimes with a hint of sweetness. Prosecco is an outstanding complement to a chopped scallop roll. Scallops are naturally sweet, soft, and delicate. Sometimes made spicy, a creamy chopped scallop roll just begs for a touch of sweetness and high acidity to slice through the succulence.

Provençal Rosé with a California Roll

Provençal Rosé has bright acidity and is bone dry, while being seriously red-fruit dominated and mineral driven. Enter strawberries macerated on a hunk of wet slate. Provence is famous for many things, most applicably: seafood and rosé! The crab and creamy avocado in a California roll are just begging for a light, bright rosé.

Pinot Noir with a Philadelphia Roll

For you red wine diehards; New Zealand Pinot Noir, or the rarer red Sancerre (also Pinot!), showing lighter body and tannin could be just the right match. Tannins in red wine are important to note when pairing with fish, because tannin can render fish tasting metallic. Fortunately, the cream cheese in a Philly roll will help to soften that effect.

Fino or Manzanilla Sherry with Uni (Sea Urchin)

This entire article would be amiss without a mention of Sherry. Fino or Manzanilla (man-tha-nee-aa) styles, with their light body and briny salinity, are a match made in heaven for seafood choices with a more intense flavor. Uni, or sea urchin, is essentially the foie gras of the ocean: smooth, mildly nutty, and briny without being overtly fishy. The salinity factor is the key here.

Kabinett Riesling with a Spicy Tuna Roll

A Kabinett level sweetness German Riesling with a spicy tuna roll just says “foodgasm.” It’s widely known that sugar turns the dial down on chili heat (the beloved Sriracha included), and sushi rolls are no exception. Spicy rolls are generally made so via spicy mayonnaise. So, an aromatic, high-acid wine with some sweetness to it would certainly be the natural direction. Yum.

Gewürztraminer with an Unagi Roll

Unagi, or freshwater eel, is similar in texture to chicken, while tasting somewhat Swordfish-esque, but with an underlying sweetness. There’s a strong taste to it that begs for a wine with a comparable strength. Look for wines that are from higher altitude regions (such as northern Italy) for examples that won’t fall into sugar-level overkill. The ginger notes in “Geh-wurtz” will also sing alongside the pickled ginger garnish – not to mention the fact that the residual sugar in this wine quells the quick-burn of wasabi.


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