Look Ma, I Made Sushi!

How To Make Sushi 101

There are very few things I’m really good at in life, and naturally, I feed those things and try to improve on them.  Sushi rolling is NOT one of them.

'Club Sandwich' Sushi Roll. Wasabi mayo, butter lettuce, cheddar cheese, ham, tomato and turkey.How do I know this? Maybe because I ended up with a mess of fillings, rice and disintegrated nori at every attempt. I overfilled, under-filled, rolled them perfectly, only to find that globs of filling had seeped out onto the clean edge leading to gaping holes in my nori, and the inability to seal them.  I thought I had some success with with my California roll, until I realized that they looked like little humps of multi-colored gack, when it came time to take photos.

California Roll and Dragon Roll Sushi tutorialsDragon roll with yellowfin tuna and California roll

As you already know, this month’s Daring Cooks challenge is sushi.  Along with making proper sushi rice, we were challenged to make three rolls;

One – a Dragon roll, which is inside-out sushi (the rice is on the outside, the nori on the inside) made to look like a dragon,  some with faces, some not (My dragon’s face was hit by a Mack Truck), with a tasty surprise filling.

Two – Decorative sushi, a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut.

Three –  nigiri sushi, which is slices of raw or cooked fish, or whatever suits your fancy, draped over tightly formed little mounds of rice.  Before I continue..you know the drill..

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

Dragon Roll Sushi                   “ROAR!  My head is made of pickled ginger and I have no face!”

Before I start regaling you all with my disastrous sushi; a little sushi history, courtesy of our hosts;

Sushi is much appreciated for its delicate taste and exquisite appearance. Sushi actually means vinegared rice, which is the essential ingredient in every sushi recipe. Sushi is simple and cheap to make at home, needs no special equipment and is an excellent way to use leftovers.

Although sushi in various forms has been around for fourteen centuries, the modern version was invented in Japan in the 1800’s where a ‘hand-formed’ sliced fresh fish and vinegared rice ball was eaten as a snack food. Nowadays, sushi is made with various seafood, meats and vegetables, raw and cooked.

Nigiri Sushi. Egg, Shrimp and Salmon.

Nigiri_Sushi; Tomago (egg), Shrimp and Salmon.                      Left to Right: Egg {Tamago), Shrimp (Ebi), Smoked Salmon.  I cut the salmon way too thick.

Now that you have a little background on sushi, I’ll get to my quasi disaster.  I admit it, I cheated a little, but not completely. After many attempts to turn out pretty sushi, I finally waved the white flag and went to a local sushi joint to pick up some sushi grade tuna since there was no way I was going to purchase sushi-grade fish from a supermarket.  With my rotten luck, my beautiful fish would be inundated with worms and gut-eating bacteria, and everyone who tried it would die.

I almost threw in the towel and bought a can of Spam, figuring I could make Spam Musubi, because it looks easy.

When I was there, I got down on my hands and knees and begged the sushi chef to SHOW ME THE LIGHT!  I cried, pleaded, bowed at his feet, and even offered up my firstborn. OK, a cease and desist on the dramatics.  The aforementioned pathetic groveling is for entertainment purposes only and completely fictional.

The truth; I asked him nicely if he could show me how to make these three rolls properly, and I would pay for every roll he made, and I made. Fortunately, he was kind enough to only charge me for the rolls he made, which kind of makes sense since I think he would be utterly embarrassed to charge me for my inadequate, lumpy sushi.  Nice guy.  This little lesson took all of 20 minutes for all three sushi preps, and let me tell you, with his ingredients and equipment, especially the rolling mat (mine is akin to glued toothpicks), I was able to turn out some decent looking sushi.

Club Sandwich Sushi! Fish-Free Sushi done Deli Sandwich style!              This was supposed to be a spiral roll  Didn’t quite work out that way.

Unfortunately, since this was a last-minute, pathetic, desperate plea, I didn’t have my camera with me, but mark my words, I made every single bit of sushi pictured in this entry. It was my hands that filled, rolled and sealed, my hands that carefully draped paper-thin slices of avocado over my wimpy, steam spewing dragon (no fire there), my hands that proudly held pretty containers of what looked pretty close to sushi, when I exited.

With all that being said, a few years ago I received a book called Sushi, American Style, by Tracy Griffith; the half sister of Melanie.  This book is loaded with some of the most creative sushi rolls I’ve ever seen; sans fish. In other words, it’s a sushi book for those who won’t/don’t eat raw fish. Every few months I would swear I was going to attempt to make these cool, creative, fish-free sushi rolls she came up with, especially a club sushi sandwich roll with layers of cold cuts, lettuce, tomato, and mayo, rolled with the nori and sticky rice.

After my little lesson in sushi making, I felt confident I could pull off a club sushi sandwich roll, so I made another batch of sticky rice.

May I digress?

What a drawn out preparation sushi rice is, and damn, that stuff is like glue to the skin if you don’t wet your hands before touching it.

I did exactly what Mr. Master Sushi Chef instructed me to do, and BOING, filling all over the place, unable to seal them, ripped nori.  WTF? OK, deep breaths..I will do this, and I finally did, after mutilating a ton of nori, turkey, ham, tomato, cheese, and my own wasabi mayo (just mix mayo with wasabi paste or powder – the amount depending on how much heat you can handle).

The club sushi sandwich rolls were supposed to be spiral rolls, but I’m pretty sure the nori disintegrated underneath all the moist cold cuts prior to rolling because my spiral looks more like crooked dashes. Regardless, it still turned out pretty nice aesthetically, and I served those with a sour pickle and potato chips.  This is the kind of roll your macho, sushi hating HE-MAN might eat, although mine peeled off the nori.  I tried.

Club Sandwich Sushi Roll. Wasabi mayo, romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, ham, tomato and turkey.‘Club’ sushi roll.  Wasabi mayo, Boston or Butter or Bibb lettuce (same thing, different names), cheddar cheese, ham, tomato (roasted red peppers would work great too!) and turkey. I should have used paper thin slices of cheese from the deli dept at the supermarket instead of cutting medium thick slices off a hunk of cheddar. I might have achieved perfect ‘club’ sushi spirals if I had.

All in all, this was a great experience, as I never thought I’d ever be rolling ‘real’ sushi.  A new notch on the old culinary belt for sure.  For sushi making instructions and the recipe(s), click HERE. For my club sandwich sushi, follow the directions at the link above,  but replace the fillings with thinly sliced turkey or ham, butter or romaine lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced cheddar cheese, and a spicy mayo of your choice (wasabi mayo or this one or one of these.).

Bookmark and Share

This entry was posted in Amuse Bouche, Appetizers, Daring Cooks, Dinner, Lunch, Seafood and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Look Ma, I Made Sushi!

  1. Oy vey. I love California rolls so very much. Especially when they are tempura fried. I have yet to have a good California roll in Utah. But every time I go back to Southern California, I eat as much of them as I can.

  2. Lauren says:

    Stunning! I love the flavours and photos! I think they all look fabulous my dear – how fun that must have been to learn from a sushi chef =D.

  3. Javaholic says:

    Beautiful presentation and great looking sushi. Really nice job with the tamago.

  4. Well you are being too harsh on yourself the nigiri looks so fresh and yummy and that last photo of the maki roll is perfection itself love the inside it looks so cool. Don’t worry I went to the local Japanese shop and asked the lady if she could show me how to do them also (luckily so used to run a sushi bar in Japan) so I know exactly what you did. As always stunning photos. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

    And the dragon roll looks so astounding even in it has no mouth. Love the square shape it has.

    Wonderful challenge for the DB this month.

  5. Your sushi pictures look delicious. The club sushi look like a rice wrap sandwich. The mouthless, fireless dragon roll is very cute. I can see heads and eyes… Yes, I’m on medication, but I do… lol. 🙂

  6. cuppy says:

    Your nigiri is awesome – we like large portions of “filling” with a small amount of rice. More to savor! And you got your shrimps to lay down… *so jealous*.

  7. trissalicious says:

    Hi!! I love the idea of the club sushi roll – this is sooo perfect for all the guests who don’t eat raw fish. Don’t worry about going to your local sushi place for lessons. I think it’s a great idea – I should have done it myself instead of passing on the challenge! Great work on the challenge!

  8. Catalina says:

    Great job!
    Your pics are amazing and so is your sushi!

  9. Wic says:

    I think your sushi looks pretty tasty. I love the sandwich roll. It`s a little Rainbow sushi.

  10. Pingback: Fan created works

  11. Sue says:

    You’re too hard on yourself! I’m not a big sushi fan, but love the California roll:) Your “club” sushi looks great!

    P.S. You’re funny:)

  12. Palidor says:

    I think you did an awesome job! Asking the sushi chef to show you is a great idea. As I was reading about your attempt to make them at home afterwards, I could feel your frustration when it wasn’t working. I’d be totally frustrated too and ready to throw the whole darn thing in the garbage! Glad you persevered!

  13. angelica says:

    LOL, i love your stories. It was so nice of the chef to go through the basics with you! I love the club sushi idea also, good job!

  14. Rosa says:

    Very well done! Those sushi look beautiful and really appetizing!



  15. Erushi says:

    I love your sushi. They’re colourful and so, so pretty. The plating’s gorgeous too, and that dragon head of pickled ginger is simply inspired. A wonderful job!

  16. Despite the frustrations you had with this challenge, you present some great looking sushi. Also, the club sushi looks delicious. It’s a rice wrap sandwich roll. 🙂 As always, witty writing and terrific pictures.

  17. Deb says:

    It looks good to me!

  18. chef_d says:

    Wow, i love love your sushi, especially the nigiri *drool* i didnt see any mess, everything looked so good!

  19. Jenn says:

    Great photos, loving the club sushi roll!

  20. Barbara says:

    It sounds like this challenge turned into a fun adventure! Lucky you!

  21. Valerie says:

    Lisa, you are being WAY too hard on yourself! Your sushi looks absolutely lovely (my dragon rolls disintegrated on contact). And as usual, you threw yourself in this challenge and gave it your all! This challenge has actually made me think about taking a sushi making class or two, just to get some pointers… I love the “club sushi” concept, too! And your description of your “faceless dragon roll” cracked me up!

  22. O Lisa, you always manage to make me laugh out loud when I read your posts! This is hilarious… I can almost see you begging and screaming and ranting… Haha… But despite all the drama 🙂 You managed beautifully! Love how your sushi looks!! And I didn’t make them at all, so applause to you!

  23. ingrid says:

    I do think that you are too hard on yourself but knowing you as I do I’m not surprised. You did a lovely job Lisa and should be very proud!

  24. Sarah says:

    Club rolls look awesome. I’ve been making suhi for two years now and I’ve never though to do something like that!
    Great idea, I am def. gonna try it in the near future.

  25. Lisa says:

    They all turned out gorgeous, Lis! Love the club roll.. sounds yummy!
    Hugs sweetie!

  26. shaz says:

    Oh your sushi “dragon” had me in tears (of laughter)! Awesome work, I don’t know what you’re talking about, they look great. The club roll sounds lik fun.

  27. Dan says:

    Outstanding effort especially for your first time. As always your photos are fantastic. Would love to try some in person.

  28. Esi says:

    You are so creative! I love those “club sushi” rolls!

  29. Amy Holly says:

    Fahrenheit 350 blessed me by sending me your way! I am sooo happy…I think I’ll be making my sweetie’s life richer when I can make sushi!!!!
    well wishes to you and hope your dreams come true and you recover quickly!!! luv luv

  30. Grendell says:

    “ROAR! My head is made of pickled ginger and I have no face!”

    Aaahahahhahaaa!!!! Awesome.

    These look deeeeelicious by the way. ;]

    I cheater’s non-fish sushi I have made before that was great was jalapeño sushi (sliced raw jalapeños, a smudge of cream cheese, and scallion. Sometimes with avocado or even cheddar cheese. It’s really good! Promise! 😀 You know… if you ever feel like facing the scary sushi dragon again. :}

  31. natural mom says:

    Thank you for such an entertaining entry! I laughed through the whole thing… not at your sushi trauma, but in empathy by remembering my own painful attempts at a seemingly simple recipe that went wrong. My kitchen nemesis is yeast. It rarely lives in my recipes. However I had success with Alton’s (Food Network) big soft homemade pretzels this week, and I was mighty proud. Kind of like your sushi proud. Thanks again.

  32. Frenchie says:

    From the looks of your pictures, you’re being way to hard on yourself. This was a tough challenge and I think you did a wonderful job.

  33. Sophie says:

    Wow!!! You have outdone yourself!! The sushi platter looks divine with all of those yummie sushi foods!!!

    MMMMMMM,…all the way!

  34. Lisa, club sushi is a killer! Beautiful and delicious.

    Have enjoyed your writing about this challenge as usual. It was entertaining and informative. The outcome is again superb.


  35. mlle noëlle says:

    I made all the rolls too, but my dragon roll was so lame-looking I didn’t even photograph it. 😛 I was bummed I put it off til the last minute, because it would have been fun to really go all out with the plating. Still tasted good though!

  36. Esther says:

    Lucky you we don’t have a local sushi place to grovel too 🙂 As to marmite/vegimite I think you have to be fed it in infancy to appreciate it, it’s very rare to find anyone who wans’t who likes it though I do find many people have been put off by trying to much of it the first time it really does need a delicate hand if you are not used to eating it.

  37. Rose says:

    YIPPEEEEE! You made sushi!!! Great job! I like how you even went to a sushi chef for instruction 😉 Your rolls look great, I think you are being a liiiitttle bit hard on yourself. My dragon roll had no face either, I was tired and cranky and covered in sticky rice. LOL. I’m so happy you had a successful challenge!

  38. These are just perfect! We had sushi last night and I had to interrupt my football Sunday to drive to get them. Next time, I will try to make them myself!

  39. Sarah says:

    Your sushi looks yummy, the headless dragon roll cracked me up (it almost looks like he is throwing up the ginger?) and your spiral roll looks tasty, even if it is unconventional.

    Thank you for the comment!

  40. Wendy says:

    Gorgeous sushi. You rocked it!

  41. Anita says:

    What fantastic sushi! You’ve done an amazing job with each of them. I love the Dragon Roll!

  42. Angela says:

    Well, I guess your begged lesson explains how your rolls ended up in the cute sushi take-out container, huh? Great job! I think the club sandwich rolls are very good-looking, even if they’re not a spiral!

  43. culinography says:

    You go, girl! All of this looks fantastic! We do “mock” sushi at home and have big dreams of replicating some “gringo sushi” (a la Guy Fieri) very soon. Well done!

  44. Elena says:

    Hey, your Club sushi is just perfect and SO creative! Bravissimo!

  45. Denise says:

    Lis, you make sushi too? Oh my goodness, since your injury you’ve expanded your horizons but we don’t get any of it anymore! HURRRY BACK..we’re hungry!!! :>P

  46. Bravo Lisa! Your sushi looks amazing and I love your dragon roll! 😮

  47. veganpower says:

    Thank you for your feedback
    Your challenge is very nice too 😉

    Great !

  48. forex robot says:

    great post as usual .. thanks .. you just gave me a few more ideas to play with

  49. Juliana says:

    Very impressed 🙂 Love your rolls!

  50. pragmaticattic says:

    Great looking sushi. (If I could just reach through the computer screen for the perfect looking tamago–my favorite!)

    The club sushi looks wonderful and is so clever. You would never know from the photo what an ordeal it was to make. And who knew that Melanie has a cookbook writing sister?

    But where is this to-die-for maple cake recipe? Sounds amazing with the frosting . . . .

  51. Thank you for the compliments on my sushi…I’ll help you make sushi if you help me master Macarons! Deal? At least your Dragon had a head!

  52. MandyM says:

    Lol, I always enjoy reading your entries, great visuals about the grovelling 😉

    I don’t enjoy sushi but I’m definitely game for that club sushi roll!

    Beautiful pics as always Lisa and I think you did a fantastic job 🙂

  53. Cakelaw says:

    Your sushi looks fab – you learned your lessons well. I am still scared of making sushi – much easier just to buy it.

  54. SushiTail says:

    The caterpillar rolls look awsome!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *