Have you ever made sushi at home? Well, you should definitely give it a try! It's fun and easy and a LOT less expensive than taking your family, with 3 hungry, sushi-loving teens, out to a sushi restaurant. This is the sushi we made on New Year's Eve.
I don't pretend to be an expert, as I've only made it a few times, but I did do a bit of research, so I'll share what I've learned. As an aside, the only things I've filled my rolls with are vegetables and those fake crabmeat things. I don't know anything about where to buy raw fish for sushi, or how to handle it, or anything else. This just pertains to veggie sushi, okay?
Apparently, the secret is in the rice. You will need to use Japanese, short grain rice, also known as sushi rice. (clever!) It is very tiny grains of rice, smaller than arborio. I like Lundberg Farms brand, but there are others that I'm sure are wonderful, too.
You need just the right amount of starch, so it's important that you wash the rice before cooking. Simply measure out your rice into your pot or the bowl of your rice cooker, fill with water, and swish it around a little bit. Dump out almost all of the water, and then gently scrub the rice with your fingers in the small amount of water that remains. The water will get white and milky. Fill the bowl with water again, dump and scrub. Do this 3 times; by the third time the water should be much more clear. Next, add the amount of water which corresponds the the amount of rice you are using. (i.e., 1 cup of dry rice to 1-1/2 cups of water). Now, let the rice soak for about 30 minutes. After soaking, cook it up! (Note that some recipes recommend adding 2 Tbs. sake to the rice water, right before cooking. I've made it with and without sake and noticed no difference.)
Once the rice is cooked, just let it set for about 10 minutes while you make up the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 C rice vinegar, 1-1/2 to 2 Tbs sugar and 1 tsp salt. Simmer over medium heat and stir until dissolved; let it cool to room temperature. (This amount of sauce will season 2 or 2-1/4 C dry sushi rice, which is the amount I used.)
Here we go: Scoop the cooked rice into a clean bowl. Gently sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice by pouring it onto a spatula that you move across the bowl as you pour. Cover the rice with a dishtowel and let it set for about 2 minutes. Now you want to mix and cool the rice, being careful not to mash the rice, keeping the grains distinct. You will gently cut through the rice with the spatula, turning the bowl. Some recommend that you use a small fan or a blow dryer set on cool to "fan" the rice, but I've never tried it. Just gently cut and lift and turn the rice until the rice is cooled.
Now, make your rolls! It's easiest if you use one of those little bamboo sushi mats, shown in the first picture. Lay down a sheet of nori, shiny side down. Now spread a little rice on top, using wet hands, leaving a little bare edge on the sides and bottom and 1-2 inches bare at the top. Add your fillings, right onto the rice, about an inch up from the bottom. We have used: thin carrot strips, cucumber strips, avocados, asparagus, sprouts, radish, daikon, lettuce... you could use scrambled eggs, too. I like to sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Now, roll it up from the bottom, nice and tight, using the bamboo mat to help you roll. Cut into pieces with a nice, sharp, WET knife. That's it! I usually make the rice and the kids roll it up. Have some soy sauce and wasabi for dipping, and pickled ginger for a nice, cooling contrast. Enjoy!