Homemade sushi is probably one of the easiest things to make in the kitchen, yet many people seem nervous about trying it.
Many people have certain misconceptions about sushi, mostly because of the whole 'raw fish' thing. Or, maybe you've tried to make sushi at home in the past, but it didn't work out.
For example, many visitors have emailed me saying the rice never holds together. Well, that's mostly because they're using regular white rice whereas sushi requires a special kind of rice.
Making sushi at home is something I like to do during the warmer months, especially for a quick and simple lunch.
Sushi rolls, or to be accurate maki rolls (or sometimes nori rolls) are a good place to start your foray into homemade sushi as they're quite easy to get the hang of.
You do need some special equipment, though, to make it properly. The first thing is a bamboo mat, which looks like this:
You prepare the rolls on this mat by laying out the nori (or seaweed sheets) and placing the rice and other filling on top. You then use the mat to roll everything together tightly and evenly without the filling coming out.
The second item you need is a long, sharp knife. You can buy specialty sushi knives, but I just use a good quality 20cm (8 inch) kitchen knife:
A carving knife could also be used. The important thing is that you can sharpen it - nothing ruins sushi more than trying to cut it with a blunt knife.
So, that's the equipment side sorted. Now you need to get hold of some nori and some sushi rice. Both should be available in most large supermarkets. If you can't find it where you live, try some specialty Asian stores.
Nori is just small sheets of seaweed, which will form the outside of your rolls.
Sushi rice is different to regular white rice in that it sticks together more. This is just what you need to stop all the rice falling out the bottom of the roll!
Cooking sushi rice is really no different to regular white rice, so there's no special sushi rice recipe.
The directions will be on the back of the rice packet, but what I do is to bring a saucepan of water to boil, add the amount of rice I need and then simmer for about 12 minutes.
I then drain the water out and then let the rice sit for about 10 minutes to cool. Once cooled you can use it, or you can add a little sushi wine (also called sushi vinegar) and stir it through to give some extra flavour.
For this sushi roll recipe, I'll keep things pretty simple, but really the only limit to sushi roll recipes is your imagination.
You really can add pretty much anything you like, such as cooked crumbed chicken strips (my favourite), smoked salmon, tuna, cooked prawns, cooked beef just to name a few.
The first step is to lay out a sheet of nori on the bamboo mat:
Then spoon the cooked rice over the nori in a thin layer. Make sure you leave a little space at the top (say, 2cm or 1 inch):
Now you take your filling ingredients and spread them in rows from one side to the other. Here, I've spread some mayonnaise across first, then mixed in a little wasabi. I've then added smoked salmon and thinly sliced avocado:
When you've added the filling, you get to the (at first) tricky bit: rolling everything up!
Starting from the end closest to you, carefully start rolling the bamboo mat up around the seaweed, rice and filling. Try to keep things fairly tight and compact by pressing firmly, so that it holds itself together:
Once you get to the other end, moisten the empty bit of seaweed with some water (or sushi wine) and finish rolling. the wet seaweed will stick everything together:
You can now remove the bamboo mat, and place the roll on a cutting board. Taking your knife, cut the roll into sections, as big or small as you like. I find the smallest I can get is about 2 cm, or just under an inch. Anything thinner doesn't seem to hold together when I pick it up with chopsticks. Larger rolls (about 10cm or 4 inches) are perfect to hand hold while you eat them:
So there you have it - homemade sushi the Basic Cooking way! At the top of this page you can see the final result, ready for serving. I hope you'll give this a try and discover for yourself how easy it is.