I’ll be the first to admit that attempting homemade sushi rolls sounds pretty intimidating. Not only are there all sorts of supplies to buy, but people train for years to become sushi chefs! Working with raw fish at home takes skill and expertise, and can be dangerous if it isn’t stored and handled properly.
Making vegetarian and vegan sushi rolls is a great way for beginners to ease into making sushi. The process is actually much easier than you might think. Pat and I made sushi rolls together for a recent date night and it was so much fun! I’m hoping this post will give you a great starting point to try it for yourself. Read on for a shopping list, sushi rolling tips, and suggestions for sushi roll ingredients. I’m also turning traditional sushi on its head by using brown rice as well as quinoa!
Let’s start with your shopping list
This is a list of the necessary ingredients and also some suggestions for what to put in your rolls. The only things you absolutely need are nori, rice or quinoa, rice vinegar, salt, sugar or honey, sushi mats, and plastic wrap. Obviously, the ingredients after sugar are all optional. Pick whatever sounds good to you.
To print, just right click on the photo and click ‘print’!
Other than a few items we had on hand, we did all of our shopping at our local Whole Foods. They had everything we needed to have our sushi date night! We mentioned to customer service that we had a few questions about making sushi rolls and one of them, Kaiah, actually walked us through the store and help us pick out everything we needed. Kaiah makes sushi all the time at home for her family and she had tons of helpful tips.
As I said before, using raw sushi-grade fish can be difficult and expensive. We decided to keep things simple by making some of our rolls with smoked salmon instead of raw fish. Kaiah talked about the difference between cold and hot smoked salmon. Cold smoked salmon has been left raw and is cured. It is more typically used. Hot smoked salmon has a stronger taste and is heated and cooked during the smoking process. We chose to use cold smoked salmon, but either would work.
According to Kaiah, another great fish option is canned tuna or even leftover tuna salad. She also had some great ideas for sushi fillings like sweet potato and a local brand of seasoned extra firm tofu.
Kaiah also talked about the different options for grains, such as brown rice and quinoa. She recommended slightly overcooking grains to make them stickier.
Sushi rice must be seasoned after cooking it. The recipes we used are below.Print
How to Make Sushi at Home
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 2
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stove
- Cuisine: Japanese
For quinoa sushi ‘rice’
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, tricolor is a pretty option!
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
For brown rice sushi rice:
- 1 cup short grain brown rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
- Toasted nori seaweed sheets
- Seasoned sushi rice (recipe above, one cup makes about 4 rolls)
- Bamboo mats (available at Whole Foods or online here)
- Sushi rice paddle
- Plastic cling wrap
- Sushi ingredients of your choosing (see shopping list for suggestions), cut into long thin strips
- Ex: sweet potato, colored peppers, kale, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, mango, asparagus, smoked salmon, tofu
- Spicy sauce (optional)
- Caviar (optional)
- Soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger for serving
To make quinoa sushi rice:
- Rinse quinoa several times with cold water in a colander. Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook about 20 minutes until soft and translucent and water is absorbed.
- Mix rice vinegar, honey, and salt together and pour over quinoa rice. Stir and set aside to cool.
To make brown sushi rice:
- Rinse rice several times with cold water in a colander. Let dry for 15 minutes.
- Combine rice and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Cook about 30-35 minutes over medium-low heat until soft.
- Stir the rice vinegar, sugar and salt together until combined. Microwave at 30-second intervals to help mixture dissolve. Stir into sushi rice. Set aside to cool.
- Wrap your bamboo mat in plastic cling wrap. Place a nori mat with the shiny side down on top of your mat.
- Spread the rice in a thin layer, leaving a 3/4″ gap on the side furthest from where you will start rolling (see photos). To make working with the rice easier, frequently moisten your paddle or spoon in a cup of water.
- Place the sushi ingredients of your choosing about 3/4″ from the side with rice. See below for special instructions for sweet potatoes and kale.
- Start rolling sushi by lifting the mat up and over the rice. Continue to roll, lifting the mat away from the roll as you go so it doesn’t get incorporated in the roll. When you reach the end, the bare edge of the nori roll should stick to itself and act as a seal. If it doesn’t, moisten it with a few drops of water.
- To finish the process wrap the entire roll in the bamboo mat and give it a few good squeezes. Cut the roll into 3/4″ pieces with a sharp knife. To make cleaner cuts, clean the knife off and moisten it between each cut.
- If desired, sprinkle sushi with caviar (fish roe), top with thinly sliced lemon or mango
Tips: Spread the rice as thinly as you can. You can use more ingredients we did in the photos. The one that Pat put the thickest amount of ingredients it was by far our favorite.
To make ‘inside out’ or uramaki rolls, start with the rice spread directly on the sushi mat. Place the nori sheet on top of the rice with the shiny side up. Uramaki rolls are great topped with thinly sliced (paper thin) mango, avocado or lemon.
To make kale for sushi: De-stem 2-3 kale leaves and cut them in one-inch strips. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet. Sauté for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently until kale is tender. Transfer kale to a plate covered with paper towel and blot to remove extra water.
To make sweet potato for sushi: Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork. Microwave sweet potato until tender when pierced with a fork, about 5-7 minutes.
Please note: The nutritional facts are made only for the “rice” and do not include the wide range of ingredients that you can choose to put into your sushi rolls!
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Combinations that we tried and enjoyed were
- Tofu, sweet potato, asparagus, and avocado
- Smoked salmon, kale, spicy sauce, and sesame seeds
- Mango, avocado, and kale
- Smoked salmon, avocado, and caviar
- Sweet potato, yellow pepper, avocado, tofu, and caviar
Some Combinations are not so great
We also tried grapefruit in a few rolls and I have to say, we didn’t like it at all. It was definitely too bitter for our tastes. It may be better if you sprinkle it with sugar first. I also didn’t like smoked salmon and sweet potato together.
Need more sushi recipes? Check out this sushi pizza!