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Those who have ever eaten in a sushi restaurant will not only appreciate the perfectly shaped rolls made with high quality ingredients, but also know that the whole occasion can be quite expensive. So why not try it at home and make sushi yourself? Many fear that preparing sushi can be very time-consuming. Plus, how do you roll the sushi in the right way, so that they at least come close to the immaculate rolls found in restaurants?

Look no further because here’s our guide for making sushi at home. We’ll be covering what you need to make sushi, which techniques to master, and how to fill your sushi rolls. So, let’s begin!

Big in Japan: The different types of sushi

Sushi is raw fish, right? Well, strictly speaking, this description is incorrect because one important ingredient is missing: rice. Therefore, sashimi is technically not sushi, even though it contains raw salmon, tuna or octopus.

Sushi is actually an umbrella term for all the different ways you can combine cold, vinegared rice with other ingredients, such as fish, vegetables, tofu or egg. In the following, we will show you how to prepare the two most famous types of sushi: maki and nigiri. But before we do so, let's take a closer look at some of the common types of sushi.

Maki

Perhaps the most popular type of sushi, maki are small rolls filled with rice and raw fish or vegetables. A key characteristic of this roll is the dried seaweed sheet, also known as nori, which envelops the maki. The filling of the rolls usually consists of ingredients like salmon, tuna, eel, tofu, cucumber, carrot or avocado.

Uramaki

Also known as inside out rolls, this is the inverted version of maki. What does this mean? In short, it means the rice is on the outside of the roll. So a nori sheet gets covered with a layer of sushi rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds or fish roe. Then the nori is flipped, so that the filling touches the nori directly and gets wrapped in it. The fillings are the same as for maki.

Temaki

This hand-rolled sushi is similar in shape to an ice cream cone. The nori sheet is rolled and then filled with rice, fish or other ingredients. Don't worry, you don't have to maneuver this type of sushi with chopsticks, you can simply eat it with your hands.

Nigiri

To make nigiri, the rice is formed into a small block and then covered with fish, vegetables or a slice of Japanese omelette. Sometimes a small strip of nori is wrapped around the sushi to help hold it together. Common ingredients include salmon, tuna, shrimp or avocado. A tip: If dipping in soy sauce, it’s recommended to turn the nigiri so that the rice doesn’t soak up the soy sauce.

Inari

While you can easily determine what ingredients are used in most sushi rolls, inari is a bit trickier. At first glance, it looks like a small, brownish bag. This is actually fried tofu, which gets filled with sushi rice, and sometimes other ingredients like Japanese omelette or chives.

What do you need to make sushi at home?

Even though this delicacy comes from Japan, you can now get everything you need to make sushi from local supermarkets. If you can’t find everything you need there, a visit to the Asian grocery store will do the job. Before you start, you'll need a sushi starter kit, but we’ll get to that later.

Which kind of rice should you use?

One of the most important ingredients of sushi is, of course, the rice. However, the more commonplace rice varieties, like basmati or risotto, aren’t suitable for rolling sushi. For this, you need rice with just the right amount of starch so that it gets sticky. The ideal type is short-grain Japanese rice or, as it is often called in Germany, sushi rice. It’s slightly rounder and smaller than other types of rice and its consistency holds the sushi together perfectly. You can read about how to prepare sushi rice further down in the article.

What should you fill your sushi with?

How you fill your homemade sushi is entirely up to you. Classic sushi is prepared with raw fish or vegetables. The latter can be used raw, but also blanched or even fried. Choose ingredients that you like best. Typical fillings include:

Seafood: salmon, tuna, shrimp, squid, eel, mackerel, crab

Vegetables: avocado, cucumber, carrot, radish, tofu, bell pepper, sweet potato

Japanese omelette: Tamagoyaki is a rolled omelette. The best way to prepare it is to use a rectangular cast iron pan. Pour some eggs into the pan, and as soon as it starts to stick, roll the egg into a log and push it to the side. Then add more egg to the pan and repeat the process until you have a rectangular rolled omelette. To prep it for sushi, simply cut the omelette into strips. If this sounds too complicated for you, you can watch how to make it in this video by Serious Eats.

Of course, you can also let your imagination run wild and go for completely different fillings. There are no limits to your creativity!

Your sushi shopping list

To make sushi at home successfully, you’ll need some basic ingredients and equipment. The quantities will vary depending on the recipe, the number of people, and how hungry these people are. Here is an overview of the things you should have in your kitchen before starting:

✓ Sushi rice
✓ Rice vinegar
✓ Sugar
✓ Salt
✓ Nori sheets
✓ Bamboo sushi mat
✓ Fish
✓ Vegetables
✓ Soy sauce
✓ Sushi ginger
✓ Wasabi

Making sushi without a bamboo mat: Is it possible?

Why the famous bamboo mat, you ask? You need it to roll up the sushi. Theoretically, it’s possible to use a kitchen towel or just your hands, but it takes a lot of practice to achieve this. If you’re a beginner, we highly suggest getting a bamboo mat, simply because it works better with it—and it’s not expensive!

Tip: To make sure the bamboo mat stays clean, always wrap it with plastic wrap to prevent rice from sticking in between the slats and making a dirty mess.

Making sushi like a pro: Things to consider

Do you want to surprise your friends with homemade sushi that looks like it was prepared in a restaurant? Or do you just want to try it out and see if you can come close to making perfect rolls like the sushi masters? Regardless of your intent, here are some things to consider to help you on your way to rolling sushi with confidence.

How much sushi per person?

It’s not so easy to determine what amount of sushi is sufficient. It all depends on how hungry you are, how big the sushi rolls are, and how rich the filling is. We recommend having approx. 3.5 - 5 oz (100 - 150 g) of sushi rice for each person. For four people, you can get by with approx. 14 - 21 oz (400 - 600 g) of rice.

What do you serve with it?

Surely you’ll know that in a restaurant, there are other things served with sushi. To recreate this experience at home, you need the right ingredients. For example, sushi is just not the same without soy sauce! Add some to a small dish so that you can easily dip the sushi in it.

You can also include wasabi on your platter. Spread a thin layer of it on the rice or nori sheet to add a spicy kick to each roll. We suggest eating a small piece of sushi ginger between each roll, as it cleanses the palate so that you’re ready for the next one.

What do you drink with sushi?

If you want to keep it traditional, serve green tea—specifically Japanese sencha. Thanks to its light sweetness, it tastes wonderful in combination with sushi. Of course, you can also simply drink still or sparkling water with it.

If you prefer alcohol, a light beer would work well. Just make sure it’s a mild beer, so as to not take away from the taste of the sushi. Although it’s rather unusual in Japan to drink white wine with sushi, this is not something uncommon in Germany. A tangy Riesling has just the right amount of acidity to complement the fish.

What’s the shelf life of sushi?

Were you overenthusiastic with the rolling and now have far too many rolls to eat? Sushi tastes best when it’s fresh, but you can also store it in the fridge for one or two days. You want the vegetables to remain crisp and the fish to be fresh, so try not to extend its time in the fridge, because remember: You are dealing with raw fish!

Making sushi for beginners

Now that you know all the important bits to keep in mind and have all the right ingredients at home, it’s time to learn how to roll. With our step-by-step instructions, we’ll show you how to prepare the two most popular types of sushi—maki and nigiri—yourself. Let's get rolling!

Making sushi for beginners

The first step is to prepare the rice for the sushi. To make sure it comes out perfect, we asked Shoko Kono for her recipe. Shoko is a Japanese chef, who provides sushi cooking lessons in Berlin. She works with healthy and seasonal ingredients with few herbs and spices, so we couldn't have imagined a better cook to show us how to make the perfect sushi rice. To do this you’ll need:

1¼ lb (600 g) sushi rice
4 cups (800 ml) water
⅓ cup (80 ml) rice vinegar
1 tsp salt
1½ tbsp sugar

1. Add sushi rice and some water to a bowl. Mix vigorously with your hands for approx. 10 sec. Add more water to the bowl, then drain. Repeat the process several times until the water runs through clear.
2. Transfer rinsed rice to a pot. Add water, cover the pot, and let the rice soak for approx. 15 min.
3. Put a lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as it starts steaming, reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, covered, for approx. 8 min.
4. Don’t remove the lid until the rice is done cooking. Remove from heat and let rest, covered, for approx. 20 min.
5. In the meantime, mix rice vinegar, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Transfer the rice to a large bowl and drizzle with sushi vinegar. Mix carefully so that you don’t crush the rice. Let the sushi rice cool before handling.

How to prepare rice for making sushi

  • 01:15 min.
  • 18.3K views

How to make maki: Master the technique in 6 easy steps

After you have cooked the rice, we can begin preparing the maki rolls. It may seem daunting, but follow our steps and you’ll be rolling in no time. Before we get to that, you'll have to cut your ingredients—avocado, cucumber, salmon etc.— into strips. Once that’s all ready to go, we can start rolling.

1. Wrap the bamboo mat with plastic wrap and place a nori sheet on it.
2. With damp hands, spread sushi rice onto the lower half of the nori sheet. Make sure that the layer of rice is not too thick, otherwise it will be a little difficult to roll.
3. Spread some wasabi down the middle of the rice with your finger, then add the fillings to it.
4. To roll, slide your thumbs under the mat and lightly hold the filling. Roll the nori slowly, using the bamboo mat as an aid.
5. Once the sushi is rolled together, wrap the bamboo mat around it and press firmly to tighten the roll. Dab the edge of the nori sheet before you roll it up completely to seal everything.
6. Cut off any overhang and cut the roll into smaller pieces, approx. 0.75 in./2-cm long.

How to make nigiri

For a slightly quicker and easier way of making sushi, you can try making nigiri. Since you don't have to roll anything, this is a much more approachable method. You only have to do as follows:

1. Slice the fish fillet into thin strips.
2. Shape the sushi rice into small blocks with your hands.
3. Spread some wasabi over the rice and cover with a strip of fish. Voilà!

If you want visual guidance for how to make avocado maki and salmon nigiri, see our video here. And don't worry: With a little practice, you’ll soon be rolling perfect sushi rolls.

Avocado maki and salmon nigiri

  • 03:46 min.
  • 58.7K views

Our favorite recipes

Now that you know the easiest and least complicated ways to prepare sushi, you can now think of how to vary the fillings, according to your mood and taste. If you need any inspiration, turn to any of the recipes below.

Hand-rolled sushi

Hand-rolled sushi

→ Go to recipe

Avocado maki and salmon nigiri

Avocado maki and salmon nigiri

→ Go to recipe

Fried sushi rolls

Fried sushi rolls

→ Go to recipe

Uramaki sushi (Inside out rolls)

Uramaki sushi (Inside out rolls)

→ Go to recipe

No matter how you choose to fill and roll your sushi, making sushi at home is easy and the result is delicious. Share a photo of your homemade sushi in the comments below or upload your own creative sushi rolls to our app. Have fun rolling!

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