Sushi is a beloved Japanese dish that’s eaten all over the world. If you’d like to try making this healthy food, you first need to collect the proper ingredients from your nearest grocery store or market. Once you’ve prepared your sushi rice, set out your bamboo mat beneath a sheet of nori, or seaweed, and arrange your rice and toppings on top. After rolling and slicing your sushi, you’ll be ready to enjoy your roll!
Simple Sushi Roll
2 cups (400 g) of sushi rice
3 cups (710 mL) of cold water
0.25 cups (59 mL) of rice vinegar
¼ cup (25 g) of granulated sugar
1 tsp (5.7 g) of salt
1 pack of unseasoned nori (seaweed sheets)
Sliced fish or seafood
Pickled ginger (optional)
Makes 5-6 sushi rolls
Cooking the Rice
1. Strain 2 cups (400 g) of sushi rice under running water. Take a large amount of rice and place it in a mesh strainer. Hold the dry rice beneath cool running water, rotating the strainer so all of the rice gets soaked. Keep an eye on the water dripping beneath the strainer—once the water looks clear and not clouded, you can turn off the faucet and remove the wet rice from the sink area.
- Cleaning your rice is an important process in the sushi-making process, as it helps improve the quality of the rice.
- It might take a minute or so before the water looks clear, depending on how much rice you’re using.
Did you know? Sushi rice is a small, white rice that becomes sticky when it’s cooked.
If you don’t have sushi rice on hand, you can substitute medium-grain California rice or Calrose rice instead.
2. Add water and rice to a saucepan in a 3:2 ratio. Pour your damp rice into an empty saucepan. Next, dump in about 1.5 cups (350 mL) of cold water. Make sure that there’s more water than rice in the saucepan, as sushi rice is extremely absorbent.
- If you don’t add enough water to your rice, it’ll be dry instead of fluffy.
Cook the rice for 10 minutes after the water boils. Wait for the water in the pot to reach a boil, then set a timer for 10 minutes so the rice can fully cook. Cover the saucepan with a lid so the rice can absorb as much water as possible. Don’t lift the lid and stir the rice, as this can make the grains mushy and congealed.
- If you added too much water to the rice, it might not be able to soak up the water.
Mix a small amount of salt, sugar, and rice vinegar together. In a separate bowl, mix 4 tablespoons (59 mL) of rice vinegar, ¼ cup (25 g) of white sugar, and 1 tsp (5.7 g) of salt together. Stir the ingredients with a spoon and wait for the salt and sugar to dissolve completely. Once you’ve made your vinegar solution, set it aside for later.
- This mixture helps add flavor to the sushi rice, and prevents it from tasting bland.
- You can also make the vinegar mixture over medium heat on the stovetop by mixing the sugar, salt, and vinegar with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vegetable oil.
Arrange the rice onto a cooking tray or bowl so it can cool. Use a spoon to scoop the rice onto a flat tray or into a large bowl. Try not to touch any of the rice as you transfer it, as the grains will be extremely hot. 
Mix the vinegar solution into the cooling rice to give it flavor. After the rice is cool enough to touch, drizzle your vinegar, sugar, and salt solution over the grains. Use a wooden spoon as well as your own fingertips to mix this vinegar into the sushi rice.
- Always wash your hands before handling any type of food.
- Try to keep the grains of rice fairly separated, instead of clumped together. This helps the rice to feel and taste fluffier.
Assembling the Fillings
1. Select raw tuna or salmon for an authentic sushi roll. If you’re using fresh or raw fish for your sushi roll, leave it in the freezer for at least 24 hours to get rid of any possible parasites. While it’s tempting to use fish that you just purchased from the store, you don’t want to risk spreading any food-borne illnesses. If you’d prefer not to worry about food parasites, try using cooked meat instead.
- Salmon and tuna are some of the most common raw fish used to make sushi.
2. Go for cooked eel or crab if you don’t like raw fish. Look in your local grocery store or market for cans of cooked seafood, like eel or crab. If you’d prefer to enjoy sushi without any risk of food-borne illnesses, opt for fillings that don’t need to be cooked or prepared ahead of time.
- Cooked shrimp are another great alternative for people who don’t like raw fish.
Popular Types of Sushi:
California Roll: Avocado, crab, cucumber, and sesame seeds
Tiger Roll: Broiled eel, avocado, shrimp tempura, cucumber
Spicy Tuna Roll: Tuna, mayo, cucumber, chili sauce
Philadelphia Roll: Salmon, avocado, asparagus, cream cheese
3. Rub oily fish with sea salt and vinegar to enhance their flavor. Before cutting your fish fillets into smaller pieces, rub them down with a few pinches of sea salt. Let the salt soak into the fish for about 30 minutes, then drizzle a tiny amount of rice vinegar over both sides of the fillets.
- This works best with large fish fillets, like tuna, salmon, or mackerel. If you’re working with shrimp, crab, or another shellfish, you don’t need to worry about this.
4. Use vegetables like cucumbers and carrots to add texture to your roll. Look for other fillings besides fish and seafood to fill your roll. Instead, include some additional nutrition in your sushi by adding cucumber, carrot, and other fresh vegetables. While you need to peel the carrots before slicing them into small ribbons, you don’t need to peel your cucumbers.
- Vegetables add a delicious crunch to your sushi roll.
Choose crab and tuna without bits of shell or sinew. Always inspect your fillings before you slice them up. Examine your tuna fillets for excess sinew, as this can make your fish a lot more difficult to chew. Additionally, check your fresh crab for any pieces of shell. Trim and remove any of these undesired elements, as they can make your sushi more difficult to enjoy.
- Use canned crab to avoid running into any shell pieces. Additionally, canned tuna won’t have any sinew.
Chop fresh fish into 4 by 0.25 in (10.16 by 0.64 cm) long strips. Take your fish fillets and cut them into thin strips. Since you’ll be constructing your sushi roll lengthwise, aim to make your fish pieces long and narrow. Ideally, try to keep these pieces around 0.25 in (0.64 cm) wide and 4 in (10 cm), so they can fit nicely in the center of your sushi roll.
- Since you might be adding other ingredients into your sushi roll, try to keep your fillings as manageable as possible.
Cut fresh vegetables in thin, vertical slices. Make your vegetable fillings as thin and narrow as possible before placing them in the sushi roll. Place your carrots, cucumbers, and any other vegetable of choice onto a cutting board and begin slicing them into thin, narrow strips. Ideally, try to make your vegetables less than 0.25 in (0.64 cm) wide and 4 in (10 cm).
- You’re welcome to slice your vegetables more thinly, especially if you’re trying to fit a lot ingredients into your sushi roll.
- Aim for your vegetable slices to look like a julienne.
- It’s okay if you leave the skin on your cucumber.
Slice fresh avocado into 0.25 in (0.64 cm) thick pieces. Cut an avocado in half, then remove the pit. After scooping the produce out of the hard skin, begin cutting the ingredient into halves. Next, slice each half of the avocado into 0.25 in (0.64 cm).
- Since ripe avocados are soft, they are pretty malleable when used in a sushi roll.
- If needed, you can always trim your avocado into smaller slices.
Forming the Roll
1. Lay 1 piece of nori onto a bamboo mat. Arrange a bamboo mat onto a flat surface, where you’ll be able to assemble all of your ingredients. Next, take a flat sheet of nori, or dried seaweed, and arrange it 1 in (2.5 cm) away from the edge of the mat. It doesn’t matter if the nori is centered perfectly—all that matters is that it’s completely flat.
- Nori sheets come in packs, which works well when you’re preparing a lot of sushi at once.
2. Layer ½ to 1 cup (100-200 g) of sushi rice over the nori sheet. Moisten your fingertips with cool water so the rice doesn’t stick to your fingers, then scoop a small amount out of the bowl or cooking sheet. Start arranging the rice along the surface of the nori, leaving 0.25 in (0.64 cm) of space along the outer edge of the sheet. Continue adding rice until the most of the seaweed is covered in a thin layer of rice.
- The amount of rice you add is completely up to you. If you’re thinking about adding a lot of fillings, only use ½ cup (100 g) or so of rice.
3. Arrange your ingredients lengthwise on top of the rice. Lay your slices of fish and vegetables across the center of sushi rice. If you’re feeling especially creative, try using specific ingredient combinations to make special, well-known sushi rolls. Try aligning your strips of meat and vegetable as though you’re drawing a line down the middle of the rice, so the sushi will be easier to roll up.
- To add some kick to your roll, try including ¼ tsp (1.25 g) of wasabi as a filling in your roll.
4. Roll up the bamboo mat so only 0.25 to 1 inch (0.64 to 2.54 cm) of nori is visible. Use both hands to push the edge of the mat forward, rolling it up in the same way that you’d roll a piece of cloth or paper. Continue rolling the bamboo along the outside of the nori, rice, and fillings, tucking the ingredients into a rounded shape. Once you reach the section of nori without any rice, stop rolling the bamboo.
- This process helps you form the sushi roll without losing any of the toppings or other ingredients in the process.
5. Squeeze the top and sides of the bamboo mat to form the sushi roll. Use your fingers to pinch around the sides and surface of the bamboo mat, forming the sushi roll into your desired shape. As you pinch and squeeze your food, note that the sushi roll itself will resemble a slight square shape. Keep pinching until you’re satisfied with the way that your sushi looks.
- If any fillings are squeezing out of the sushi, this is a good time to force them back into place.
- Don’t apply too much force—you’re only trying to shape the sushi.
6. Unroll the bamboo and remove the sushi. Pull the bamboo mat backwards, using slow and delicate motions to reveal your finished roll of sushi. Use both hands to lift and move your roll to a cutting board. If the sushi looks like it’s about to unravel, try squeezing it within the bamboo mat for a little longer.
- Don’t be discouraged if your sushi doesn’t look great on your first try. It takes a lot of time and practice to master the art of sushi rolling!
Slice the sushi into 6 equally-sized pieces. Take a large knife and begin cutting the roll in half. Once you have 2 equal halves, continue cutting chopping each half into 3 even pieces. Arrange these pieces of sushi vertically or horizontally on your plate, depending on how you’d like to present them!
Tip: Many sushi restaurants garnish their platters with a small amount of pickled ginger and wasabi. Try adding this touch to your own sushi!