Roll Your Own Sushi {On the Cheap}

I am often hesitant to try new things, especially things that seem somewhat difficult or that I haven’t even the slightest idea how to do.  My husband on the other hand is adventurous, willing to dive in and learn as he goes, and will try just about anything once.  On countless occasions, he’s been the impetus in getting me to try something I otherwise wouldn’t have.  But where Hubby can be impatient and hurried in his excitement of trying new things, I am slow and methodical and admittedly a bit of a perfectionist.  Perhaps not so much because I’m patient, but because I simply don’t want to risk messing something up once I do get started!  And somehow, through God’s grace, these seemingly opposite traits have worked together through our marriage to grow us as individuals.  I suppose you could say that we even each other out.  Either way, this past Friday night these two traits came in very handy in a way we wouldn’t have expected…

Friday night was our designated date night for the week and by the time my husband got home from work, we were both craving fresh sushi.  But as you probably know, it can be a tad on the expensive side to go out for sushi or even grab a few rolls from Publix, which up to this point has been our favorite way to go. Then it hit us…let’s make our own sushi at home! This is totally not something I would have attempted before, but we went for it and it ended up being one of my favorite at-home date nights so far.


We set out for Publix to get the ingredients we needed:

  • 1 lb. fresh salmon
  • 1 package imitation crab
  • 1 package of nori (seaweed sheets)
  • 3 carrots (we had these at home)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 tube ready-to-eat Wasabi paste
  • 4 cups cooked rice (we used Basmati rice from home, but it’s easiest to use Japanese sticky rice if you can find it)
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Plain cream cheese (had this at home, and you’ll only need a few tablespoons of it depending on your tastes)

And would you believe that for all we had to buy at the store, it only cost us about $20 to make 6 rolls of sushi with tons of leftover veggies to boot? Hooray!

Before we got started, we sliced our veggies julienne-style, and Hubby gave the salmon a quick sear in some sesame seed oil (although you don’t have to seer your salmon if you don’t want to). We staged a portion of the counter as our sushi-making station, ensuring our prepped ingredients, a cutting board and knife, a bowl of water for wetting our fingers, and the sink were all easily within reach.  Since we couldn’t find a sushi rolling mat at any of the local grocery stores, we improvised with a flexible woven placemat from home wrapped in cling-wrap.


Here’s a link to the incredibly informative video we watched to learn the ins and outs of rolling our own sushi. In fact, this guy has a whole channel on Youtube called MakeSushi that has a whole host of fantastic instructional videos.

How to Roll Sushi Rolls

The most important tips we took away were:

  1. Keep your fingers, mat, and knife wet (although not sopping) as you work to avoid getting the rice stuck to everything
  2. Make sure your knife is nice and sharp before you get started and wipe off/re-wet the knife between each cut to avoid tearing and/or pulling the sushi apart as you slice
  3. Don’t rush anything!  Even if you’re ravenously hungry like we were, being patient and methodical as you assemble, roll, and cut your sushi will make for much better sushi in the long run.  And besides, the best part is getting to munch on the ugly ends of the rolls that get left behind as you go. Trust me, you won’t starve!

Here’s a quick step by step:

  1. Moisten your mat and place a sheet of nori smooth side down. Scoop about 1/2 cup of rice onto your nori, and press together to cover the sheet and until rice is about 1/2-centimeter thick. Be sure to wet your fingers in a bowl of water or the sink beforehand and throughout the process to keep the rice from sticking to your fingers too badly. IMG_2105
  2. Place your chosen fillings (our favorite combination was salmon, carrot, avocado and cream cheese)along one side of the nori, about 1/2-inch from the edge. Be careful not to overfill, as it will make it more difficult to roll and may cause your nori to tear.IMG_2106
  3. Using your sushi mat, slowly roll the sushi in on itself a little bit at a time. In between each rolling motion, press firmly along the entire length of the roll to firm it up as you go. Repeat until the roll is fully formed and there is no nori left to roll.IMG_2107IMG_2108
  4. After giving your roll a final firming up, remove it from the mat and place it on a cutting board.  With a wetted knife, carefully slice the roll in half down the middle, then in half again, and so on until you get 8 pieces of sushi.  The 2 ends of the roll won’t look great, so you can eat those as your reward for a job well done!


Note: For inside-out sushi (i.e. rice on the outside) you will follow the exact same process, except that you’ll need to flip your nori over after adding the rice so that the rice side is face-down on the mat.

Remember what I said about Hubby rushing to do new things versus my  attention to detail?  Well, he told me to be sure and share this picture in my post to demonstrate the difference between my sushi rolls (being a slow-and-steady chef) and the result of Hubby’s hurried zeal.  Same ingredients, but completely different outcome!  After my first roll, Hubby designated me as the official sushi chef for the rest of the evening.


Here’s your final product!


And yes, if you are wondering, Hubby was wearing the authentic Japanese headband (in the background of the above picture) like a regular kitchen-Samurai the whole time we were cooking, unfortunately I was forbidden from putting those photos on the internet. But you can imagine it if you try…




One thought on “Roll Your Own Sushi {On the Cheap}

  1. Diana Burditt says:

    How fun! Your sushi rolls look incredibly delicious. Maybe I’ll try your someday… even though I hate sushi (seaweed just isn’t something one should eat). I love keeping up with what’s new in Georgia, sweet daughter, by reading your blog. Blessings to you both!!

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