The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

DIY sushi

Making California rolls

I don't like rice or fish or, well, probably seaweed. But I learned on our honeymoon that I love sushi! Too bad the good stuff is so darned expensive....

"You know, we could make that," Mark said after bringing me home sushi as a treat for the fifth time in a row. And he was right.

I totally bombed the first batch, but the second was so tasty it was hard not to eat it one one gulp. Here are the ingredients for making four California rolls:

  • 1 cup uncooked sushi rice (be sure to rinse the raw grains five times before cooking according to the instructions on the bag in a rice cooker or instant pot)

Sauce to add to cooked rice:

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • California roll contents1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons sake

Add the following while assembling the California roll:

  • 2 sheets of nori (each one broken in half)
  • 1/2 of a small cucumber
  • a bit of imitation crab
  • 1/4 of a ripe avocado
  • 4 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds (to sprinkle on the outside)

I'll let you search the internet for assembly instructions. It's all about temperature of the rice, a piece of saran wrap for rolling (wasteful, I know!), and keeping the filling very small.

You'll notice I didn't take any pictures of the cut rolls, though. I'm still figuring out how to slice my masterpiece without knocking it out of shape. Maybe some sushi experts out there will comment with their tips?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi - just want to mention that you can use a sushi bamboo roller mat instead of saran to roll sushi. They are only a few dollars, and work great (plus no waste)! We got ours from a local Asian store.
Comment by Susan Wed Feb 28 07:25:16 2018
I also got into sushi a few years ago, you can add any ingredients you want. i like sweet potatoes or carrots and cucumbers. Get a bamboo sushi mat, it makes rolling them much easier.
Comment by Anonymous Wed Feb 28 07:47:19 2018

Hi Anna, Love your blog, have learned a lot from you guys. For once you have ventured into some territory that I feel I can impart some wisdom. To answer your question, the (not so) secret to slicing a sushi roll is the right knife. The style of knife you want is called a Yanagiba. The long thin blade allows you to draw the knife through what you are cutting without applying hardly any pressure as long as you keep it sharp. There is a range of price options for these on Amazon, and I am sure that, as with most knives, you get what you pay for. If you are going to be making sushi on a regular basis, a good knife is a solid investment. This style of blade also does a great job of slicing any large cut of mean very thinly, I have used it to slice roast beef and turkey into deli meat. A couple of suggestions based on my experience, your rolls will come out more even if you focus on getting a uniform but thin layer of rice spread on your nori (seaweed). I try for a single grain of rice thick layer, and then you don't have to break the sheet in half, just roll it back over on itself, this helps it stick together. Position your filling about one inch up on the end closest to you and then roll away from you, pulling up on the plastic wrap with every turn to keep it from ending up on the inside of your roll (like I did the first time I tried this). Don't be shy with applying pressure with every turn using your bamboo mat to get things tight, working from the center of the roll out to the ends, if some of your filling squirts out the ends that is ok, it will ensure that you have an even core inside the roll. On a personal preference note, try using real crab meat instead of the imitation stuff, snow crab legs (which are reasonably priced frozen at Sam's club) are a good choice. If you decide to stick with the fake crab, whatever you do, don't Google the ingredients and manufacture process. Ganbatte (good luck) with your sushi!

Comment by Yuriy Wed Feb 28 09:08:35 2018
I've only made sushi a few times, but found that a silicone baking mat worked just fine in place of saran wrap.
Comment by Emma Wed Feb 28 10:38:56 2018
To not ruin the role, I use a wet sharp knife. Good luck.
Comment by Bj Wed Feb 28 11:51:25 2018
A super sharp knife. you don't want to saw it like a branch. if you have the roll facing so the edge of the nori is pointing the same way that you draw the knife it can help. same with lightly dampening the sides of the knife with water so the rice dosen't stick. little things can help but i'v eaten many of the sushi rolls i've made from bowls.
Comment by Phyr Wed Feb 28 20:25:11 2018
Okay, I have to ask...why is the rice on the outside of the nori sheet? Is it because it's a "California roll"? I'm just really curious. Normally, the nori is supposed to be the outside casing. :)
Comment by Chris in Oz Wed Feb 28 20:27:24 2018

Hi Anna, I love, love, love your weekend homesteader book. Thanks for all the inspiration, we harvest our first Shitaki recently. To cut sushi rolls wet the knife in between cuts. Any non-serrated sharp knife will work, I favor a biggish veggie knife, use a light pressure--cut away from you with a smooth even strokes, let the weight of the knife do the work for you. If the roll is not cut with the first stroke. wet it and repeat with the same motion until cut cleanly. Do not saw back and forth. Using a bamboo mat instead of plastic wrap and making a roll that is firm, yet not squished will also help get a clean cut. and remember sushi hand rolls and chirashi are quick, don't require cutting are delicious and can take lots of home grown veggies. also I recommend toasting the nori sheets over an open flame immediately prior to making your maki rolls since it will also make cutting easier than non toasted rolls i tadakimas!!! [bon appetite in Japanese] best regards, MoMo

Comment by Maureen O'Brien Fri Mar 2 22:21:32 2018

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