One of our goals this year is to try new things. New experiences, new activities, and new foods are all par for this year’s course. While sushi isn’t new to me (in fact, I am a big sushi fan), Amanda has only ever had it once. We’ve never tried to make it at home, so for our date tonight, we’re going to make sushi!

The first step to making sushi is gathering all of the ingredients. This might also be the hardest step if you live in a rural area like we do, but luckily we were able to find all of the ingredients after checking a few local stores. The one thing we couldn’t find locally was a bamboo rolling mat, but we found a cheap one on Amazon that we Prime shipped right to our front door.

Once we had all of the ingredients, we did some research, asked some friends for advice (thanks, Katie!) and were finally ready to start. We made a vegetarian California roll for Amanda and a salmon roll for me. For these two sushi rolls, you will need:

  • Bamboo rolling mat
  • 2 sheets of 10″ nori (the seaweed wrap)
  • 1 cup of short grain rice
  • 1 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3-4 oz salmon filet (you only need a couple strips, so a small filet will be fine)
  • 1 avocado

The longest part of making sushi is cooking the rice. We used Alton Brown’s Sushi Rice recipe, which takes about an hour. His recipe calls for two cups of rice (and double the vinegar, salt, and sugar), but for just the two rolls, even using slightly more rice than we should have, we had a lot of leftover rice so we recommend only using 1 cup. First, you add the rice to a medium mixing bowl and cover it with cool water, then swirl the rice around. Drain the water off and repeat adding water then draining until the water remains clear when you swirl the rice. Alton’s recipe recommends 2-3 times, but we did 5 times because our water was still pretty cloudy until then. Add the rice to a medium sauce pan with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil uncovered. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 15 minutes, stirring a few times. When the 15 minutes is finished, remove the pan from heat, stir the rice once more then leave covered for 10 more minutes. Toward the end of the 10 minutes, mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds just to warm it up. Transfer the rice into the medium mixing bowl you used, and stir in the warmed vinegar mixture to coat all of the rice. Let the rice cool to room temperature.

While the rice is cooking, prep your fillings. Peel the cucumber and carrots, then cut both approximately in half, so you have one piece that is about 5 inches. The nori is 10 inches, and you want to have the veggie pieces extend all the way across the nori, but not overlapping in the middle too much so it’ll be uniform. Slice the cucumbers into quarters lengthwise, then slice off the middle part of the cucumber with the seeds. You only want the firm, outer part for your rolls. Cut the firm part in half, then in half again to get roughly square pieces. Cut your carrot in half lengthwise, then place the flat side down. Cut off one of the rounded parts to make a flat surface then turn the carrot onto the new flat side. Repeat the cuts around to create a square piece of carrot. Cut the square in half, then into quarters to have slightly thicker than matchstick pieces. Open the avocado and remove the seed. While in the skin, slice the fruit into thick pieces, then remove with a spoon and place onto a place off to the side. Finally, slice four approximately quarter inch pieces from the edge of the salmon filet.

Lay your bamboo mat onto the counter with the flat side up. On your bamboo mat, lay a sheet of nori shiny side down (rough side up) near the edge of the mat. Wet your fingers and grab about half of the rice. It will be sticky, so work quickly to get it onto the nori. Spread it evenly to the all of the edges. For the vegetarian California roll, lay strips of avocado in the middle of the sheet, then lay strips of carrot and cucumber on each side. Grab the edge of your bamboo mat and slowly start rolling. Hold the ingredients in place with your other fingers as you continue to roll to the other side of the nori. Once the roll is complete, gently, but firmly squeeze the bamboo mat to form the roll. Unwrap the bamboo mat and transfer the roll onto a cutting board. Wet your chef knife to help avoid sticking, then slice a little, maybe 1/4 inch off each end to make the ingredients uniform the edge. Eat the pieces you cut off immediately, because they’re delicious. Wet your knife again, then slice the roll in half. Cut each of the halves into four pieces, wetting the knife as necessary, to have a total of eight pieces.

Vegetarian Caifornia Roll

For the salmon roll, repeat the above setup of the mat, nori, and rice, but put the salmon in the middle instead of the avocado. Add avocado and cucumber on each side of the salmon, then roll it up. I added carrots to mine, but I think it was one ingredient too many, so I am not including it in these instructions. Cut off the edges and slice into 8 pieces.

Salmon Roll

Serve the rolls with some soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Finished Sushi Rolls

There were a lot of steps to this date night, but the end result looked amazing and was delicious. I really enjoyed mine, but Amanda wasn’t as convinced. Oh well. It’s not about always liking the new things we try. It’s all about trying them. It’s always a lot of fun cooking together, but it was especially fun tonight with learning new techniques.

Buy Bamboo Mats on Amazon
Alton Brown’s Sushi Rice recipe