I've got three kids so "just roll with it" is a motto that I have to live by. In keeping with this motto, I thought I'd post a super easy way to make and eat Japanese hand- rolls! The great part about this recipe is that you can roll up pretty much anything. My kids like plain rice but if I want them to eat their veggies or try different types of fish, they'll happily roll it right up. Anything tastes better in a crispy piece of seaweed (nori)!
What makes this recipe different is how you prepare the nori. Seasoned, crispy nori has become very popular these days. You can find it in little snack packs all over the place but I've been making it at home since I was little. You can easily roast it on a gas stove and it comes out crispier, fresher tasting, less oily and better for you! I'll show you how to make it below.
To start your sushi party, you'll need to start with making Basic Japanese Steamed Rice.
Basic Japanese Steamed Rice (Gohan - ごはん)
Japanese rice is shorter grained and higher in starch content, which gives it that signature sticky consistency. It comes in healthy brown rice varieties and a delicious in-between variety called haiga rice. When looking at the different types, remember that the higher quality of rice you purchase, the better it will taste. If you are at an Asian or Japanese grocery store, you’ll see a range of rices to choose from, so try a few different brands out and experiment. All Japanese rice needs to be washed multiple times to improve the flavor and remove any impurities. My method for cooking is one that I know is familiar to many Japanese families but may seem a bit unconventional. We don’t measure the water with a cup, we measure it with our thumb! Results should be perfect, fluffy Japanese rice every time.
3 cups of raw Japanese rice
- Place the rice in a 4 qt saucepan or use the bowl of a rice maker, and gently rinse the rice by swirling your hands through it and rubbing the rice grains together in your palm so that all of the starches are released.
- Carefully drain the milky water, repeating 4-6 times until the water runs almost clear.
- Pat the rice down so that it is evenly distributed and cover the rice with enough water so that when you put your thumb to the top of the rice, the water rises up to the knuckle on your thumb - about 1 inch high. Regardless of how much rice you use, this trick will work with any amount.
- Let the rice soak for about 15 minutes.
- If cooking in a rice maker, follow the instructions on your device. If cooking on the stove, heat the rice until the water comes to a boil.
- Turn down the heat to just above a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes (brown rice requires an additional 10 minutes).
- Remove from the heat, do not remove the lid and let the rice steam for an additional 15 minutes before serving.
4 cups steamed Japanese rice - 3 cups raw will make approximately 4 cups steamed
2 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar and salt.
- Immediately after the rice is cooked and while it is still warm, put it into a large bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over the rice while folding it in until it is combined.
Some people like to fan the sushi rice while you are mixing so that the rice has a nice glossy sheen. If you don’t have time, don’t worry, you don’t have to season it – just serve the rice plain.
Sushi Hand-Roll Party!
Makes about 40 individual hand-rolls - or cut down on amount of rice and toppings if you aren't having a party!
Many of these ingredients can be prepped ahead of time so you can have time to relax. It’s delicious, easy, and fun. Everyone gets involved and it's a crowd pleaser too because your guests can make exactly what they like. If you're making it for kids, just tell them the wasabi is not guacamole!
2-3 ripe avocados – Cut into quarters and then sliced at a diagonal in the peel so that people can take a section and scoop out what they need
½ Japanese cucumber (can substitute any cucumber), seeded, julienned
½ pound lump crab meat - to make it easy, they have fresh crab already cooked, shelled and in a nice plastic container in most seafood sections of your local grocer
½ pound baby shrimp, cooked
½ pound spicy ahi tuna (recipe below)
vegetarian lovers - add peeled carrots, steamed asparagus spears, torn lettuce
½ cup white sesame seeds, toasted (these are available at most Asian grocers already toasted)
shoyu (Japanese soy sauce), wasabi and ginger
Toasted Nori (Japanese seaweed)
10 sheets nori (Japanese seaweed)
1/8 cup sesame oil
- Pour sesame oil into a small bowl.
- Very lightly brush sheets of nori on both sides with oil (alternatively you can use coconut oil cooking spray)
- Turn gas stove on medium high and gently waft the nori sheet over the hot stove with tongs to make crispy on both sides. (It's o.k. if some of the sides catch a little flame, just blow it out and be careful!)
- Lay each piece of toasted seaweed on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Repeat and stack. When done, take kitchen shears and cut the sheets into fourths.
1/2 pound ahi tuna (does not need to be sushi grade) - freeze ahead of time to make easier to cut and make more uniform pieces.
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 shakes of chili oil
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- Take frozen tuna and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Cut the tuna into 1/8" cubes. If you see any sinuous white bits, remove.
- In a large bowl, combine the tuna, sesame oil, chili oil and sriracha sauce.
- Right before serving, add the kosher salt and combine so that guests can still get a little crunch from the salt.
Get ready to have a sushi party!
Right before your guests arrive, lay out the sushi rice, toppings, and toasted seaweed in separate bowls. Have the condiments (sesame seeds, soy sauce, wasabi and ginger) in smaller bowls with serving utensils. I make a separate bowl of soy sauce and wasabi already mixed so that people can just spoon it on if they like. Don't worry about the rice being warm - it's better at room temperature because it won't make the seaweed rolls soggy. Have guests take a square of nori and spread a small amount of rice in the center and top with desired toppings. They can continue to gather round and make their own sushi hand-rolls - like a Japanese sushi taco party!
Need a video tutorial - it's all right here!