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Sushi doesn’t have to be a decadent, once in a while meal. Basic rolls are easy enough to make to become part of a regular meal rotation. The versatility of sushi means it can be adapted to varying budgets and tastes (no raw fish necessary!) While these may not always be authentic Japanese rolls, they are still nourishing and fun to make.

Once you have the base ingredients, nori (the wrapper) rice and vinegar, you can whip up sushi with a wide variety of fillings. The only other tool that is necessary is a bamboo rolling mat. I also like to keep around wasabi powder, soy sauce and ginger but you could live without them if you had to.

Sushi lends itself well to no-cook ingredients like fresh vegetables or creamy fillings like spicy tuna, making it perfect for the hot summer days ahead. For me, the trick to getting creative with sushi is to try to think of it like a modern tea sandwich, then the possibilities are endless.

This week I made some tasty rolls with carrots, garden picked dill and cream cheese. I had some imitation crab aka “fish protein” (Soylent Green anyone?) on hand so I put that in there as well. It was my first foray into using herbs in sushi and it was delicious!


My toddler loves rice, so she loves sushi!


Some notes on Rice:

When I finally learned how to cook rice without it sticking to the bottom of the pan it was “a  moment of zen”. It is quite simple: stir occasionally till it comes to a boil, then turn it off, cover and let it sit till done.

Sushi rice calls for a 1 ½ cup of water to one cup rice, rather than double the water to rice. This is what makes it sticky.

Vinegar is essential to a balanced flavor. Rice vinegar is really mellow, but white vinegar is a fine substitute. When I put together this roll I was low on white vinegar so I mixed it with fresh lemon juice and really liked the results. Adding salt and sugar helps balance out the vinegar and the entire result is quite tasty.

When making your rolls rinse your hands with water before applying the rice, this helps to keep the rice from sticking to your hands.

Accoutrements (Not needed if you don’t have them. But nice to have)

Ginger is considered a palate cleanser between rolls, but is also just tasty. I don’t buy pickled ginger instead I follow the How to Cook Everything recipe for “Quick Pickled Ginger” Which is thinly sliced ginger soaked in sugar, salt and rice vinegar (or white if that’s what you have) for 30 minute to 1 hour.

I prefer making my own wasabi paste with wasabi powder. It is simple and I think it tastes better than the tubed stuff.

Soy Sauce may seem essential but it doesn’t have to be if you don’t have it!

Sushi, both the making and eating of it is largely about the process and ritual behind it, embrace this to make your dinner even more special. This is good advice for any meal.

Any more ideas for sushi from your neck of the woods?

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Sushi making with kids:

Instead of spicy tuna try this variant: