Life is hard. Making sushi at home is harder. The other evening I decided it would be fun to make some maki for dinner, something I used to do a lot, actually, when I was younger. But it’s been a really long time since I had the time and wherewithal to do it and making maki sushi is no bicycle ride.

I figured I would make it easy since it had been a while and I last made it before I had children. “Lets start with a few California rolls” I said to my wife who readily agreed because everyone in my family has a severe avocado addiction.

What We Did

Buy your seafood (online or from a local Japanese grocery store). Then, start with the rice. You want to rinse sushi rice before cooking to get rid of excess starch, otherwise your sticky rice (as my son calls it) will be a solid mass and impossible to work with. Rinse the rice until the water runs relatively clear and then cook. When the rice is cooked, season with a mixture of rice wine vinegar and sugar and carefully fold the rice to evenly distribute the seasoning liquid. It sounds odd, but that’s what you do, believe me, it works. Let the rice cool to room temperature and you are ready to go.

Cut up the avocado, cucumber, and kanikama/surimi (the fake crab leg made from various whitefish and flavored and is used in these rolls) and get all the fixins’ together. Get out your nori (seaweed wrapper for the roll) and place it shiny side down and you are ready to start making maki. I cut off about 1/3rd of the sheet to help me size the roll properly, but that’s up to you. Spread some of the rice mixture evenly over the nori, leaving a bit of nori showing on the edges. Lay the goodies in a row along the closest part of the sheet and slowly roll the sheet away from you.

It is easiest if you have a bamboo rolling mat to help guide the rolling and shape the roll after it is rolled up. Roll. And viola! Cutting the rolls also requires finesse. Use a large, very sharp knife, and keep some water handy to keep the knife edge moist or the starch adhering to the knife will make cutting your roll a living hell. Cut in half, place the two halves side by side and cut them into thirds and you will have a nice maki.

Yeah, right. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. It’s really not. My first roll was 4 inches in diameter. Bizarre. Way too much rice, but it had been a while… Keep the rice layer relatively thin, that’s what you have to remember. By the third roll they started looking normal, but it was a groove that I really had to work on to get back into. I did and we played around with other fillings. Salmon is my son’s favorite. My daughter just likes the rice and had way too much fun with it. But it was a good evening with some nice cold sake, edamame, and mochi with red bean ice cream filling. Some of the best stuff on the planet. It’s fun to make sushi at home, and really not hard at all. It’s just hard to make it look nice 🙂

Warren Ransom

I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.

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