Homemade Sushi: It’s Really Not That Hard

sushi ft

First and foremost, shout out to Betches Love This for giving me the inspiration to try and tackle this surprisingly small beast on my own. It was actually their recommended shopping list that I used to buy the ingredients but ultimately grabbed what I could find and used the construction recommendations on my purchased Nori’s packaging. I have contemplated and talked to my boyfriend about us taking a sushi making class because we love it so much, but it turns out, unless you are looking to learn really intricate ways to make it, you can do it for free dollars (plus the cost of ingredients, of course).

Have a look:


Total estimated cost for ingredients/tools shown plus rice and white fin not shown: $32. Plus, you will not use all of the vinegar, sriracha or miso soup packets shown, and do not need a new bamboo mat each time. Your future meals won’t even cost this much.


– 3 cups of Minute Rice white rice
– Sushi Nori
– sushi vinegar
– Sriracha mayo
– Sriracha chili sauce
– 1 avocado
– 1/2 of a cucumber
– 1/3 lb. of shrimp
– 1/2 lbs. of white fin
– Packet of instant miso soup mix (optional, for an appetizer)

Tools Needed

– wooden cutting board
– bamboo sushi rolling mat (pictured above, purchased from World Market for $1.99)
– glass mixing bowl
– sauce pan to cook rice and fish respectively
– spatula
– knife to cut veggies/fish and rolls (sharp, non-serrated preferably for the rolls)

In a hurry? After buying half of my ingredients I saw this sushi kit at World Market – it includes most of what you need and will save you some money!

Recipe yields: 7 large rolls of (pretty delicious) sushi, plus 2 bowls of instant miso soup – plenty to serve 2 people.
Nutrition: 250 calories per full, large roll (give or take based on additives)
Miso soup nutrition: 30 calories per packet

Step by Step Prep

Note: you can switch up the order in which you do things, this is just how I found it easiest.

Cut up your veggies in a way so they fit nicest in the roll long-ways. The cucumbers are already long so cutting them is pretty easy but the avocado can be a bit tricky. They may not look the prettiest when you're rolling it but that's not what you see at the end and it will taste the same anyway, don't harp on it!

 1. Cut your ingredients

Cut up your veggies in a way so they fit nicest in the roll long-ways. The cucumbers are already long so cutting them is pretty easy but the avocado can be a bit tricky. They may not look the prettiest when you’re rolling it but that’s not what you see at the end and it will taste the same anyway, don’t harp on it.

Sushi Vinegar and Rice

2. Prepare your rice

For my 2-person meal I used 3 cups of uncooked rice with 3 cups boiling water. Once it was done, I put the rice in a glass mixing bowl and added the sushi vinegar. The amount of sushi vinegar to add that I had read about varied from recipe to recipe that I saw, so I followed the instructions on my particular bottle of sushi vinegar; I recommend that because it turned out really well.

Once you’ve mixed in the sushi vinegar, lay out the rice on a large, flat surface. I got that instruction from the Nori package and didn’t quite understand it, and it provided no explanation, but I realized it was cooling much faster that way when I did it – I highly recommend doing the same.

3. Cook your fish

Since my main stop for ingredients was Whole Foods, and I thought for sure they’d have sashimi but did not, I improvised. The gentleman at the seafood counter suggested trying their hot bar for the white fin since you could buy that by weight – turned out to be a great suggestion. I also grabbed a small pre-portioned container of shrimp for some variety. I pan fried those for a few minutes, cut the shrimp in to smaller bits (optional) and shredded the white fin a bit more.

All in all, the meat cost me about $10 which is typically less than the price of one specialty roll at a Chicago sushi restaurant.

White fin with Sriracha Mayo

4. Rolling and cutting your sushi

This is where I thought it would get really difficult, but if you follow these few pieces of advice, you will be pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is:

Have a bowl of cold salt water on deck.
Dip your fingers in before adding the rice, his helps the grains not stick to your fingers when you are adding it to the Nori. Hang on to the bowl when you’re done rolling though, because it will also come in handy when cutting the rolls later.

Don’t pile on the ingredients.
This isn’t Chipotle, less is more. Your ingredients really need to hug the Nori sheet. Rice shouldn’t be layered more than a grain or two high and the ingredients should all lay alongside one another, not stacked.

Shrimp with Sriracha Chili Sauce

Shrimp with Sriracha Chili Sauce

Leave room at the top of the Nori.
You need about 1.5-2 inches to seal the roll at the end so do not cover the entire sheet with rice. For easiest rolling, you will want to make the top side (farthest from you) where you end the roll.

Wait until you are ready to roll to dampen the Nori.
To seal your roll, your Nori packaging will mention wetting the bare end of your Nori. Take it from someone who wet the end and then said, “Oh! I need a picture of this part…” you will want to wait until your next move is to start rolling, or it will start to curl up, making it harder to seal.

It’s okay if you need to touch the Nori while rolling.
Because of the use of a fancy bamboo rolling mat I was afraid I shouldn’t touch the Nori at all – false. Just make sure your hands aren’t full of water. After I added the ingredients and was ready to roll I did a quick rinse under the faucet and patted a towel real quick. Once the roll is almost to the end, it’s almost easier to just use your fingers. The bamboo mat is certainly invaluable to get your started though, and I couldn’t imagine not using one at all (please, just spend the $1.99 and save yourself the hassle). I also gently squeezed the wrapped roll while it was in the bamboo to ensure it was sealed firmly.

Lay the roll seam side down on a flat surface when done.
Probably pretty self explanatory, but why not. I let mine sit probably about 10-15 minutes between rolling and cutting purely because I rolled all of them and then cut them in the order I rolled. This was plenty of time for them to seal and dry.

Use a sharp, non-serrated, but not-too-heavy knife.
Since Nori and sushi are delicate, you don’t want to come at it with a big steak knife. My mom got my boyfriend a nice set from Chicago Cuttlery that I used and it was wonderful. This is also where the cold salt water will come back in to play. You want to dip the knife you use to cut the pieces in the cold salt water so it doesn’t stick the rice as you cut through the roll. I did this every other piece or until I felt like it was starting to stick again.

5. Serving your sushi and meal

Once all of your rolls are cut in to pieces you are pretty much done aside from any decorating or topping you want to do. When I was at World Market I knew I wanted to grab some inexpensive plates that showcased my work (because as you will learn, if you do it, it will take about 45 minutes to make what I did your first time). I saw these black ceramic plates and grabbed 2, along with 2 little square saucers (pictured in the final product) for our soy sauce. I lined them up  carefully and they were ready to serve.

Other serving recommendations:
We also made instant miso soup but did not think to grab matching black ceramic bowls for it. We were going to get bigger miso soup spoons but they only had orange and green ones that wouldn’t match, but it looks like they have black spoons online. Investing in reusable chopsticks wouldn’t be the worst purchase either, we just took some from Whole Foods’ deli this time.

I happened to have a red lacquered serving tray from my Teavana days so I used that to serve the rolls. What I didn’t realize was that since we used those 2 black ceramic dishes to serve, we did not have a small plate for the rolls in front of us, we are going to pick some of those up next trip.

Don’t forget the wasabi or ginger if you’re a fan! Those can also be found at World Market, and probably many other markets with an international/Asian cuisine section.


Ready to give homemade sushi a try? Share your variations with #foodwinediy!

3 thoughts on “Homemade Sushi: It’s Really Not That Hard

    • Ashley Nicole says:

      I have only attempted sushi this one time, so I have only used the Sushi Chef vinegar and Minute rice but it worked really well, I’d recommend it to anyone.


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