Food and Food: Asia and Food: Home Cookin' and japan10 Jul 2011 02:36 pm


We tend to eat sushi out once a week at our favourite easy kaiten (belt) sushi chain restaurant, and it is excellent for the old favourites and some maki choices, but sometimes you like to eat your own creations full of your favourite ingredients. Also, maki sushi is quite different from the nigiri sushi that is often at these restaurants, as it combines many ingredients.

One of the best things about the local supermarket is the fish section. It is stocked with various cuts and preparations of the many kinds of fish, from classic favourites to seasonal varieties. There are packages of pre cut slices for sashimi or nigiri sushi, long pieces for grilling… you can really go to town.

On this occasion, I bought a few things:

  • two kinds of nori seaweed, one for hand rolls and one for the longer maki rolls
  • premade rice (almost as fresh as homemade, but more convenient)
  • salmon, crab and maguro
  • burdock root, and some vegetables

Crab sticks. Not imitation, although that is also available.

Burdock root, or gobo

This mixed pack of sushi grade maguro tuna and salmon was about $5.50

At home I already had what I needed to flavour the rice, as well as cream cheese and various kinds of pickles and other fillings to put in the rolls.


As I have mentioned before, I think the rice is one of the best things about living in Japan. My favourite is sushi rice with a lightly flavoured taste of vinegar, sake and sugar. It is tangy and delicious.

I made my own sushi vinegar to add to the rice by combining these items:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (you can use rice vinegar too)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 table spoon of mirin or sake/nihon shu
  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt

Combine these in a small pot on the stove until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Will flavour about 4 cups of rice.

Combine into warm rice by folding it in, being careful to not crush the rice.

Buying rice is a bit of a cheat since the flavour is better when the rice is turned into sushi rice when it is warm and fresh.
You cannot substitute any other kind of rice, or turn arborio or Thai sticky rice into sushi rice by making it gooey and mushy, so please do not do this.


Assembly is easy. I did not want the rolls to be too filling because we wanted to try many different combinations, so I did not push the rice to the edge of the nori. Normally you would, otherwise you get…

…sad looking rolls like this. These deflated looking things were really good though.

You can mix and match each rolls. Here, toro chopped and mixed with soy, negi or green onions, crunchy Niigata Prefecture miso daikon pickles that were a present from our Japanese tutor, burdock root dipped in the same sushi vinegar mix I made for the rice and a cucumber. You want to combine the things you like, thinking about taste, smell, texture (crunch!) and color.

There are sushi mats you can use to roll up rolls, like inside out California rolls, but I just hand rolled these nori wrapped rolls. The sushi mats help the rice from sticking and keep a uniform size and look, if presentation is important. But we are rustic here at the ZeeCall household, and we are not so picky.

I also made some salmon, negi, cream cheese, sesame seed and cucumber rolls.

Finally, even more customizable, the hand rolls. You just stuff and fill the little squares of nori with rice, then the fillings you want, roll up and eat.

Crab, cucumber, negi and cream cheese.

Fun and easy!



8 Responses to “homemade sushi rolls”

  1. on 10 Jul 2011 at 11:06 pm Kate

    One of the many reasons why I <3 you.

  2. on 11 Jul 2011 at 12:43 am Mark

    That looks delicious, Kelly!

    I make makis every now and then, but I’ve only ever used pre-prepared sushi vinegar in bottles. Your recipe, especially with the apple vinegar, sounds delicious!

    I think the deflating problem is that you put everything in the center. If you want smaller rolls, instead of filling it with less rice and keeping everything centred, try folding and break the nori sheet so it’s not a square. (Futomakis are done with half a sheet of nori, and you can get something exactly in-between futomakis and makis by breaking off just the last quarter.) I normally put rice so it touches every edge except one (the last edge to be rolled up).

    I’m insanely jealous of all the fresh fish you’re getting in Japan! I only get to use smoked salmon and vegetables for sushi at home, since I’m not sure I can trust that North American fish markets will have any kind of sushi-grade stuff. Hehe.

  3. on 11 Jul 2011 at 7:11 pm kelly

    Mark – This is so weird to say (although maybe not) but your post is the most helpful information I have gotten so far about making maki. Maybe because most people buy their rolls here or tend to do the hand rolls at parties, but no one could really teach me about it. So I relied on the web or just trial and error. THANK YOU!

  4. on 14 Jul 2011 at 9:50 am A Canadian Foodie

    YUMMERS! You are the SUSHI QUEEN – criticizing the gorgeous roll (IMHO) that anyone would cheer over, here in Edmonton! Love the slide show. What did you use to make it? Really? Can you write me to tell me? It is brilliant. I am also SHOCKED at how cheap the sushi grade meat is there. I took a sushi class last year at Christmas in November and got very strict instructions on what kind of rice to by and exactly how to prepare it. I still haven’t done it – as no one I know likes it but me!!!!
    I have missed reading your posts – but loved this one, and will try to visit more often.

  5. on 14 Jul 2011 at 9:51 am A Canadian Foodie

    Yes – look at my post on making sushi as instructed by Chef Brett yasukawa… the pics would be helpful, too – I am sure.

  6. on 14 Jul 2011 at 9:53 am A Canadian Foodie

    oh – and what do you use burdock root for? Kevin Kossowan grows it here in his garden and it is kind of bland raw.

  7. on 14 Jul 2011 at 1:02 pm The guy that ate these rolls

    The burdock root is pickled, so it just goes in the roll to add a bit of tang and crunch.

    And “sushi grade” doesn’t mean much when it comes to fish. There’s no generally accepted definition, although flash freezing to kill parasites is usually considered part of it. This happens to most fish, so you can consider any good quality fish you buy to be sushi grade.

    In Edmonton I highly recommend Ocean Odyssey at 10027 167 St. I have bought fish there and eaten it raw before, as well as smoked, and yet I live. They also just generally have good product, selection, and knowledge.

  8. on 14 Aug 2011 at 3:17 am Meow

    You can actually get away with using much much less rice than you did in your pictures if you don’t want your maki be very filling.

    I used to work at Sankyu in Edmonton and normally, we spread the rice very thin (like, 1 grain thick, some pea sized spots don’t even have rice), and load up on the fillings. Mark is right about putting the filling not center, but at the bottom edge. He is also right about halving the nori sheet. Little kappa maki and inside out rolls use half the sheet; the insane regular big rolls is the full sheet. To give you an idea of the amount of filling if spreading the rice a grain thick: California inside out roll – 2 slices of avocado (halved, halved, then thirds), kani-kake piled up the size of a medium sized snack fish sausage. All that on a half sheet of nori.

    On a full nori sheet, you can fill it up with all these if your rice layer is thin: 2 leaves of lettuce, 3 slices of tomatoes (halved then halved), 2-3 slices of avocadoes (halved, halved, then thirds), 2 rows of marinated sliced shitake, cucumbers the thickness of a small size fish sausage. The key is not to roll it too too tightly, it droops a little.

    You can make do with about 1/2 cup of rice for maki like kappa, 3/4 cups if doing inside out rolls, and 1 1/4 cup for a full sheet.

    I hope that helps!