How to Make Homemade Sushi (with Brown Rice)
Don’t let homemade sushi intimidate you… making your own is much easier than you’d think! This easy-to-follow tutorial will have you rolling your own sushi in no time.
Like many restaurant meals, sushi is often expensive and made with some not so FfL-friendly, real-food ingredients (white rice, imitation crab—what actually is that, anyway?). But, when made at home, sushi is the one type of food I (Kalie) think I could eat every day and never get tired of it. It’s flavorful, protein-packed and healthy. Plus, making it at home is fun, easily customizable and saves SO. MUCH. MONEY (especially if your family loves sushi as much as ours does)!
Oh, and did I mention it’s a super fun way to spend an evening with family and friends, both young and old? Set out all the ingredients (think… a beautiful spread of fish, thinly sliced avocado, sheets of toasted nori) and let everyone get creative with their own rolls. Serve it with a salad or some edamame (in a steamer bag to make it easy), and you’re good to go.
Most kids wrinkle their nose at the thought of fish or veggies, BUT this is one healthy dish your kids will be totally on board with. It’s a fun, unique way to make food together, and because they can fill their own roll with whatever ingredients they’d like to try, it’s the perfect way to introduce a new cuisine. After they make it once, they’ll be sure to ask for it again or be willing to eat it out anywhere!
If you have a picky eater, have them roll banana sushi instead. The basic idea of this is that you spread nut butter onto a tortilla, add a banana, roll it up and slice it like sushi. It’s a fun, fast and filling way for them to feel included in sushi night too.
Vegetarian and vegan-friendly
When you think of sushi, raw fish may come to mind, BUT sushi tastes just as delicious fish-free. For a vegan or vegetarian option, fill your roll with an array of thinly sliced veggies. You can even add a little tofu or tempeh for added protein.
A great pre-/post-workout snack
Headed for a long run or bike ride? A few pieces of sushi make a delicious pre/post-workout snack. The whole grain rice releases a steady stream of carbs during your workout, so your energy levels will stay consistent. Fish/tofu is a great source of protein and healthy fat, which builds and repairs muscle. Just keep it to a snack-size portion.
- SHORT-GRAIN brown rice: Short-grain rice has just the right amount of moisture and starch for successful sushi rolling. Steer clear of the highly refined white stuff. You may even see that some packages of white rice specify “sushi rice,” on them. We’ve never found brown “sushi rice,” but any short-grain (whole-grain) variety will work.
- A rice cooker: This one is not necessarily a “must-have,” but is definitely a “nice to have.” Because rice cookers gently steam the rice, you’ll have a consistent, aromatic and fluffy grain texture that tastes delicious. They’re also designed to cook at the precise temperature and will automatically set to “keep warm” once the rice is cooked to perfection so you won’t have to worry about undercooked or overcooked rice again. The investment is minimal and having one will certainly save you time in the kitchen, especially if you serve rice as much as we do! Our favorite brand is Instant Pot and can be purchased for less than $40.
- Nori (seaweed sheets)
- A bamboo mat: One for each person participating (pictured below)
- A cutting board and sharp knife
- Plastic wrap
You should be able to find all these staples in your grocery store’s international food aisle. Some stores arrange them next to the store-made sushi for convenience. You can also find bamboo mats on Amazon for a few bucks, or simply use nori sheets and roll carefully with your hands.
Stellar Sushi Ingredients (choose your fav’s!)
Now that you have everything you need to roll your sushi, it’s time to decide what you’d like to fill your rolls with!
As for protein options, use any combo you like! I (Kalie) live in Florida, so I can get fresh salmon and tuna pretty easily. My parents live in Pennsylvania, so fresh fish isn’t as accessible. Because they have a more difficult time finding sashimi-grade fish, they often use shrimp, crab or make vegetarian rolls. Another fun kid-friendly option they’ve tried is scrambled eggs.
- Salmon (raw, sashimi grade)
- Tuna (raw, sashimi grade)
- White fish (cooked)
- Shrimp (cooked)
- Crab (not to be confused with imitation Krab, spelled with a K)
- Cooked egg
Some favorite add-ins
There’s no rules when it comes to sushi rolling… get creative and add anything that sounds yummy!
- Matchstick carrots
- Bell peppers
- Green onion
- Red onion
- Cooked sweet potato
- Pickled vegetables
- Cream cheese
- Sesame seeds
- Thin slices of sashimi- or sushi-grade fish
- Thinly sliced avocado
- Spicy Asian “mayo” for drizzling (here’s our favorite easy recipe!)
Optional add-ons for serving
- Liquid aminos or soy sauce (for dipping)
- Wasabi + pickled ginger
Some of Our Favorite Combos
- Tuna, shrimp and avocado
- Tuna and cucumber
- Tuna, avocado, cucumber, jalapeño and matchstick carrots
- Salmon, cucumber, avocado and mango
- Mango, cucumber and avocado
- Avocado, mango
- Cooked sweet potato, cucumber and avocado
To Make the Roll
STEP 1: Cook your rice.
Cook rice on your stovetop or in a rice cooker. (We love our Instapot Rice Cooker.)
STEP 2: Prepare your ingredients while your rice is cooling.
Julienne your veggies (thinly slice).
STEP 3: Dump rice into a large mixing bowl and add the rice wine vinegar.
While your rice is still warm, mix to combine and lightly fluff.
STEP 4: Place a ball of rice on top of the nori sheet and spread, leaving the upper quarter of your sheet uncovered.
Leaving the top portion of the nori sheet uncovered allows the sushi roll to close and seal properly.
STEP 5: Put it all together.
On the bottom of your rice-covered nori sheet, make a nice neat row with whatever ingredients you’d like on the inside.
STEP 6: Roll, roll, ROLL!
Using the bamboo mat as an aid, roll the nori over as tightly as you can and keep rolling until it is closed up completely. When you’ve almost rolled your sushi all the way, dip your fingers in water and spread a small amount of water along the nori you left uncovered by rice (at the top). This dampened edge will adhere to the outside of the roll, sealing it as it dries.
STEP 7: Tighten it.
Place the sushi mat over your roll and squeeze gently to tighten.
STEP 8: Slice and serve!
While sushi rolling truly isn’t all that difficult, it can take one or two tries to get the hang of. With a little trial and error, you’ll pick it up pretty quickly.
- Consider chopping ahead. As you probably already know if you frequent FfL, we’re HUGE fans of meal prepping. If you plan on hand rolling your sushi on a weeknight, make sure you prep and chop your ingredients ahead; otherwise, you may want to reserve your sushi shindig for a weekend activity.
- Make sure you have everything laid out and ready to go. It’ll make your sushi rolling sesh run much smoother.
- Use a water dip for your hands. When working with rice, we’ve found it extremely helpful to keep a bowl of water nearby. Dip your fingertips into the water before working with the rice to prevent it from sticking to your hands. Repeat as often as necessary. If you find the rice is still sticking to your hands, add a few drops of rice vinegar into the water.
- Don’t overstuff your roll. It’s so tempting to do this and it might take a few times to learn just the right amount of filling. The first time we made our own sushi we filled our roll up with entirely TOO MANY ingredients and it looked like a burrito, rather than a sushi roll.
- Roll tightly! This is so important. Use the bamboo mat to help guide you and roll tight, tight, tight. The first time we tried rolling one, we didn’t roll it tight enough and ours turned out more like a limp spaghetti noodle than a straight sushi roll.
- Use a SHARP knife. This is key. A dull knife will ruin your beautiful handiwork.
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Hi beautiFULL, We’re Pam and Kalie
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