There are several things that you have to have in order to make sushi rolls. The first is of course a rice maker but we will cover that in the next topic. (Believe me it needs its own category) Here is a list of the tools you will need:
1- Bamboo Mat
2- Sushi Knife
3- Sushi Oke, a flat bottomed wooden bowl to prepare the rice (optional but recommended)
4- Bamboo rice paddle
5- Plastic wrap (if you are going to be making uramaki rolls with the rice on the outside)
6- Roasted seaweed wraps (nori) Make sure you get roasted
8- Rice vinegar
It All Starts With the Rice
Here is where it gets a little tricky. Whenever I talk to someone about making my own sushi invariably they ask how I can make the rice so that it is right for sushi and not just a sticky mess. Then I usually hear the war stories of how they tried it “once” and it didn’t work out.
Many times I find that they were simply using the wrong kind of rice. You will need to get a good quality short grain sushi rice. There are some medium grain rice that will work OK but short grain is really best.
Don’t let this part of the process intimidate you. An apprentice sushi chef in Japan will spend his first two years just making rice. Yes that’s how important it is. So if you end up with a glob of goo (and I have more than once) don’t worry, you can do this.
We are going to skip forward to making the rolls in this article, we will now assume that you have learned how to make sushi rice. For a tutorial on how to make sushi rice, see the post “make perfect sushi rice” on this site.
Choosing the Ingredients
This is where it gets fun and you can let your creative side loose. We probably all have our favorite roll at our local sushi bar. The nice thing about sushi rolls is that there are literally hundreds of combinations you can come up with to make a tasty roll.
One of my personal favorites is spicy crab and avocado. An easy and fairly inexpensive roll to make is smoked salmon and avocado. Whatever your taste you can’t go wrong.
Just a few things to remember, first make sure if you use a shell fish that it is really well drained so the moisture content is low.If you don’t the roll will be soggy and can turn the Nori into mush. And second, don’t over stuff the roll when you are adding the ingredients. If you do if will be hard to roll and also hard to eat.
Putting it all Together
OK, so you have your ingredients together and you are ready to go. Place your bamboo mat on your cutting board so the slats are left to right in front of you. Place a sheet of Nori on your bamboo mat so the lines you see in the Nori are running toward you, you will notice if you look closely that Nori has two distinct sides, a rough side and a smooth side, place it smooth side down.
Take a handful of rice, about a cup, and place it on the Nori, here’s a good tip, get your hands a little moist with water, it makes it easier to handle the rice and it won’t stick to your fingers as much. Spread the rice evenly over the Nori leaving just a little strip, about 1/2 an inch, on the end away from you with no rice. Be careful not to use too much rice, just enough to cover the Nori and so no green is showing through.
Place the ingredients on the rice about a third of the way from the front edge. Now lift the mat and slowly begin to turn the leading edge over on itself rolling it away from you. Don’t roll it too tight or too loose, this can take some time to get just right. Once the leading edge of the Nori has folded on to the rice continue to move the bamboo mat forward with one hand while applying a little pressure to the mat with the other hand.
As you get to the end stop and wet your finger with a little water and run it along the edge of the Nori that you left the rice off of. Finish rolling the rest of the way until the wet end of the Nori has bonded with the dry side.
Now take the mat and using both hands shape the roll by pressing down gently on the roll. And there you are your first sushi roll! Next take your knife and dip the tip in some water and hold the blade tip up so that the water runs down the sharp edge, this helps your knife cut through the roll without sticking. Now cut your roll into 6-8 equal pieces and its time for dinner.
If you want to make Uramaki rolls with the rice on the outside watch for that post on this site. The principles are the same but there are a few things that you want to get right.
Now You Can Make Your Own Sushi Rolls
Now that you have made your first sushi roll you probably think that it wasn’t that hard, and you know what, your right. You can now practice until it is second nature. I like to have one night a week that is Sushi Night, its usually Friday at our house. I suggest you do the same so you can hone your newly found skill.
I hope you feel confident enough now to make your own sushi rolls. I know that reading an article can be a hard way to learn so please watch for video tutorials on this site that I am sure will give more clarity to this wonderful art. Please feel free to leave comments and if you have questions reach out to me and I will try my best to answer them as soon as I can. Happy Rolling!