Like sushi, but wish you could enjoy it without taking a bite out of an endangered tuna or some other fish that's filled with PCBs or mercury? Make your own! Homemade sushi is much less daunting than you might think, and it allows you to stick with the most sustainable seafood on the planet. You can also use organic ingredients—not easy to find in most sushi joints!
The Basics of Homemade Sushi
Tools: You will have an easier time making nice tight rolls if you invest in a bamboo rolling mat. My local supermarket stocks a kit with a mat and a rice paddle (which is strictly optional; a wooden spoon works just fine) priced at less than $5. You might also find the kits at dollar stores.
Nori: The traditional sushi wrapper is called nori, a type of dried seaweed. Toasted nori is the type usually used in making sushi.
Rice: Sushi is traditionally made with a type of short-grain white rice that is quite sticky when cooked. You can also make sushi from short-grain brown rice, quinoa, or a combination of the two, but the whole-grain options have a more distinct flavor and work best with spicy or other strong-flavored fillings (otherwise, all you taste is the grain).
Here are the two best ways to prepare it.
White Sushi Rice (enough for 4 medium or 2 large rolls)
1 cup white sushi rice, organic
1¼ cups water
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown rice syrup (or ¾ Tablespoon sugar)
½ teaspoon salt
Wash rice in cold water until the water runs clear, then drain rice. Bring fresh water and rice to boil in a one-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
Place vinegar, brown rice syrup (or sugar), and salt in a small saucepan. Heat slowly until salt and sweetener dissolve. Scoop the hot cooked rice into a wide, shallow glass bowl, and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Toss gently to combine, and set aside to cool.
Whole-Grain Sushi Blend (enough for 4 medium or 2 large rolls)
½ cup short-grain brown rice, organic
½ cup white quinoa, organic
1½ Tablespoons ground flaxseed, organic
2 cups water
Wash rice and quinoa in cold water until the water runs clear, then drain rice. In a one-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add water and flaxseed, and let sit at room temperature for up to four hours to help tenderize the grains. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is tender, for 35 to 40 minutes (a little longer if you skipped the soaking step). Turn off heat and let stand for 30 minutes, then scoop rice into a wide shallow glass bowl and set aside to cool.
Fillings: While fish and seafood (raw or cooked) are common sushi fillings, vegetables are also traditional. You can also use cooked egg, cream cheese, fruit, cooked meat, peeled broccoli stems, sprouts, mushrooms, and just about any food that strikes your fancy. I made some very tasty banana-and-chocolate-chip rolls once, and the hands-down favorite at my birthday sushi feast was Asian duck breast with crispy skin and blanched green onions (even the sushi haters loved it). Harder veggies (sweet potato, green beans, and carrots, for instance) will be easier to eat if you blanch them in boiling water until they are crisp-tender and chill them in ice water to keep them from getting mushy.
For three simple recipes, check out page two!