Makes 3 – 4 rolls which are then sliced into 6 – 8 pieces
- 200ml Japanese rice
- 650 ml water
- 50 ml rice vinegar
- Half a tablespoon sugar
- A good pinch of salt
- Nori (seaweed sheets)
- Fillings such as avocado, tuna, tamagoyaki (Japanese omlette) etc
- Sesame seeds (optional garnish)
You will also need a bamboo rolling mat
- Cook the rice according to pack instructions if there are any. Some Japanese rice requires a washing and soaking process, others can be cooked as they are. If there are no instructions then wash it thoroughly, measure out rice to water in a ratio of 3 to 3.25 and soak for 30 minutes in a pan. Cover the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the water has nearly been soaked up.
- Meanwhile heat the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a pan over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.
- When it’s cooked turn the rice out onto a large chopping board or plate, sprinkle the vinegar mix over it and fold it in gently using a wooden spoon or rice spatula while the rice cools. You can use a hair dryer on a cool setting to aid drying and ensure the rice isn’t too wet. It’s best to use the rice straight away to roll your sushi.
- Take a sheet of nori and place it on your rolling mat shiny side down. Spread out some of the rice thinly on top right to the edges but leaving a strip of about an inch to 2 inches at one end. The rice should not be packed down, or too thick (about a quarter of an inch) and if you can see some of the nori through the rice that is fine.
- Place your filling(s) in a strip across the centre of the rice right to the edges. Then start to roll by lifting the end of the bamboo mat nearest you and folding it over the ingredients, with a careful rolling action. Seal the free end of the nori over the roll – you’ll find that the rice causes the nori to become a bit sticky so this is easier than it sounds. Don’t worry if you end up with a spiral effect on your first few attempts, you’ll soon get good at judging the right amount of rice and filling to make a perfect roll. You can cut the nori to make slimmer rolls with smaller amounts of fillings if you like.
Uramaki (Inside out rolls)
When you get more advanced try making an inside out roll. Place a sheet of cling film over your rolling mat. Place some rice on a smaller strip of nori (before placing on the mat) and sprinkle with sesame seeds, then flip the whole thing over onto the mat covered in cling film. Add your filling and roll as normal to make a pretty roll with the rice and sesame seeds on the outside. When making this style of maki, be careful to not have any extra nori without rice at the end or the roll will not seal properly. You definitely need less nori for this one.
Another nice alternative is to use a thin sheet of smoked salmon to roll the sushi in using the cling film to line the mat in the same way as the inside out rolls. If you are having a Hanami party, then try to make the sushi tear drop shaped so that you can make five or six of them into a blossom flower.
February 3rd is the Japanese festival of Setsubun (or bean throwing festival). Thick sushi rolls (called fortune rolls) are eaten whilst facing the direction of good forune (which changes every year). Seven fillings related to the Seven Deities of Good Fortune are traditionally rolled into a Fortune roll. These are: simmered shiitake mushrooms and kanpyo (dried gourd), cucumber, rolled omelet (tamagoyaki), eels, sakura denbu (pink sweet powder), and seasoned kouyadofu (dried tofu). These ingredients represent good health, happiness, and prosperity.