Friday, 20 January 2012

Franken-sushi! Maki rolls are hard...

I love makizushi- you know, those little rolls with the seaweed wrapped around the outside. Unfortunately, sushi is damn expensive, and if you go somewhere with a conveyor belt it's all too easy to keep popping them into your mouth like toffees to the point where you've got a bill the size of Godzilla. So to satisfy my maki cravings, I decided to try and make some.

I tried to make sushi once before, way back when I was 13 and more weaboo (I'm still a bit of a Japanophile, but now it's based more towards actual cultural things like pottery and less towards OMG CARDCAPTORS). I hated it. I don't know if that's because it actually tasted nasty or just because I was an idiot who couldn't make sushi. Who knows.

So first I cooked my rice, following these two tutorials. About 10 minutes into my simmering, I started to smell burning and realised my rice was starting to stick and toast on the bottom. This actually produced some pretty tasty crunchy bits, but wasn't really ideal.

To get the right consistency and taste of rice you have to fold it around with a spatula to evenly distribute sushi vinegar, all while fanning it to cool it down. This was a fun exercise in ambidextrous hand-eye-coordination!

My fillings were red pepper and spring onions. It was upon cutting them that I realise that every knife in the house was blunt as fuck. Oh well.

Rice spread out with fillings on the edge (following this tutorial)...

And away I roll!

Uh. Hmm. The last step said to squish the roll with the mat to stick everything firmly together, but mine just sort of squared off. At this point I tried to cut some pieces and realised that the blunt knife was really not good. Nevertheless, if I had been able to cut proper rolls, they would look like this:

Which pretty much resembles a maki roll. Hooray! I made 2 and sliced them up to fit in my lunchbox.

They may be ugly, but they tasted pretty damn good. I'm happy with my first real sushi attempt, and want to try again in the future!

So here are my top tips for anyone who wants to try to make sushi:

  • Make sure you have the right equipment. A very sharp knife is essential, and when instructions say to use a pan with a tight fitting lid, don't substitute a pan with a plate over the top instead. If I had one, I would have used a non-stick pan too.
  • Keep the heat super low when your rice is simmering away. Worse case scenario, your rice takes a little longer to cook. It's much better than burnt rice.
  • Spring/green onion is a pretty annoying filling because it's fibrous and can be hard to cut.
  • You can add some zing to your roll by spreading wasabi paste over the area you leave rice free for fillings. It did this and it tasted amazing! I'd also like to try brushing on some teriyaki sauce.
  • Don't rush. If things go wrong, take a deep breath and focus. I had an hour and a half to make this before I had to leave for uni, and managed it, washing up included, despite all my little set-backs.
Unnecessary cat picture to break things up.

In terms of money saving, here's the breakdown of how much it cost:
  • From my local Wing Tai Asian supermarket I got: sushi vinegar £1.59, nori seaweed £1.59, the rolling mat £1.39, a pack of 3 spring onions 50p, and a red pepper 68p for a total of £5.75.
  • From Tesco in Slough I got: Yutaka sushi rice £1.51 and yutaka wasabi paste £1.51 for a total of £3.02. You can also buy many of the specialist ingredients at larger Tescos or other large supermarkets, for a lower cost than I paid at my Asian supermarket.
  • Overall total: £8.77
  • At Yo! Sushi that would get you an unlimited green tea £1.50, and 2 orange plate dishes £3.40 each, which is way less than I usually eat at Yo!. My bill usually clocks in at £15-£20.
I would say then that it's pretty cost effective, especially as you can decide exactly what goes in your rolls and some of the ingredients last a long time- wasabi paste gets used up smidgen by smidgen, you only need 1/4 cup of vinegar for every 2 cups of rice, and the mat is a one off purchase unless you own a knife sharp enough to cut through it.

Which, currently, I definitely do not.


  1. thank you! Can I ask how you got here? I'm always curious as to where my visitors come from.