When you get sushi you can tell if a roll is made with fresh, high-quality ingredients. Subpar ingredients make subpar sushi-it’s a very simple formula. Believe it or not you can make top-notch sushi at home without any special equipment or training. The secret ingredient is just that: the ingredients. If you don’t have a bamboo sushi mat no worries. A plain kitchen towel and some plastic wrap can give you the same results. If you have access to the right rice, good produce, and uber-fresh seafood you can make restaurant-quality sushi.
When assembling your ingredients think of which stores in your area have what you need. You might only need to make one stop or visit multiple stores. If you live in even a smallish city you likely have a specialty supermarket like Whole Foods close by. This and other higher-end stores will have what you under one need roof to make your sushi. If you have an international market close to home please do not overlook these gems of unique items and (usually) low prices. Just make sure you have rice, Nori paper, vegetables, and if you want a protein on your list. A word of caution: if you are going to eat fish or shellfish raw make absolutely certain you purchase sushi-grade items. For this you might want to go to a fish monger or an established store that sells seafood you can eat raw.
Speaking of rice, please make sure you get the right rice. It is imperative that you buy sushi rice to get that wonderful sticky texture that essentially coats your role while its density compliments the other flavors. Nori paper, paper-like sheets of dried seaweed, is what holds your sushi role together and must remain completely dry until it is used. When the Nori comes in contact with the rice it becomes moist and sticky, serving as a “skin” for your sushi. As Nori must remain completely dry and does not store well, you are better off purchasing small packs of about 10 sheets instead of the industrial-size packs of 50-100 pieces.
Now let’s talk about the fresh items in sushi rolls such as vegetables and seafood. Please use the freshest produce possible and perhaps consider a visit to your local farmer’s market to get traditional favorites like cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, and/or avocados. Sushi is all about bright, fresh ingredients and low quality vegetables simply will not give you the same results as newly-picked produce. Traditional proteins used in sushi are tofu, fish, and shellfish. If you are going with seafood you have a choice of steamed or raw for your ocean treasures. If you elect to use steamed seafood you don’t have to be as picky while you are shopping. Yet if you are going raw be prepared to spend a little more for this option as there are no cutting corners.
Once you have your filling ingredients together, mix them in a bowl and include a sauce if you like, then cover the bowl while you prepare your roll. Press a layer or cooked rice in a half Nori sheet then turn it rice-side down to your mat or plastic covered towel. Spread the filling on the Nori, wrap your roll, remove the outside medium, and enjoy.