Sushi refers to the short-grain rice, cooked and seasoned with sushi vinegar. Once the rice is made, you can use it in maki rolls - see our simple step-by-step recipe below.
Alternatively if you prefer to make temaki or hand rolls just follow the same recipe but instead of rolling the maki, scoop rice and some fillings onto a nori seaweed sheet, and roll into one large cone to eat with your hands. Fillings might include raw or cooked fish, cooked egg omelette, herbs, avocado, cucumber, mayonnaise, chilli. Alternatively form into balls, and serve as part of a bento box lunch.
What ingredients do I need to make sushi?
There are just three key ingredients that you need to make any type of sushi:
- Sushi rice - this is the short-grain rice that forms the backbone of any sushi that you make. You should always use 'sushi rice', as the grains are very short, and will hold together well to form your sushi. The rice is grown in both Japan and the USA, with great quality rice coming from both countries. The basic sushi rice is a great place to start, and as you become more of an expert at making your own sushi, you might like to try more premium sushi rice, prized for its flavour and texture.
- Sushi seasoning or sushi vinegar is a pre-mixed blend of vinegar, salt and sugar.
- Nori seawed sheets are pressed sheets of seaweed that hold the sushi rice and fillings together.
Once you've assembled those ingredients, you just need to decide what to fill your sushi with! That might be egg, vegetables, fish or even meat.
If you're new to sushi making this Sushi Making Kit has everything to start making authentic Japanese sushi - except the fish! And if you're looking to entertain friends then the Deluxe Sushi Set comes with chopsticks, sushi plates and dipping bowls for serving.
What equipment to I need to make sushi?
There are three basic pieces of equipment:
- A saucepan for cooking your rice or a rice cooker
- A bamboo sushi rolling mat to help you make perfect maki rolls, that hold together well.
- Hangiri rice barrel - a hangiri is a large wide wooden container, with shallow sides and a very large surface area, for mixing your rice and cooling it. Of course you don't need one of these when you first start, but if you decide decided that sushi making is really for you, then you'll want to use one for the ultimate sushi rice. The ultimate Japanese hangiri is made from cypress wood and held together with copper bands, and is like a piece of art in your kitchen.
How long can I keep sushi after making it?
Prepared sushi rice will go hard if it is stored in a domestic refrigerator, so it is best to serve sushi rice shortly after it is made. Sushi fridges in Japan are kept at a slightly higher temperature to make sure sure the rice retains its great texture.
If you're using raw fish, make sure you make the sushi just before eating. Raw fish shouldn't be kept out of the fridge for any period of time.
However, if you're not using raw fish, most fillings are fine to include in a lunchbox that might be kept out of the fridge for a few hours. The sushi seasoning that is mixed with the rice to turn it into sushi rice is made from vinegar, salt and sugar, and so acts as a preservative once the sushi rice is cooled.
To serve sushi at a dinner party, it can be fun to slice all the fillings in advance and store those in the fridge, and then prepare the rice and lay out the seaweed when guests arrive. Then each person can roll their own sushi, and perhaps slice the rolls to share with others.
Easy maki rolls recipeFollow our step-by-step recipe below to make simple maki rolls - a perfect introduction to how to make sushi.
Ingredients for the maki rolls
- Sushi rice, made as above
- 3-4 nori sheets, cut in half
Filling ingrdedients ideas
- Cucumber batons
- Red pepper batons
- Avocado, cut into strips
- Pickled daikon radish
- Sashimi grade tuna or salmon
- Seafood sticks
- Tinned tuna mixed with a little mayonnaise
To cook the sushi rice
- Rinse the rice in cold water and drain. Place water and rice into a cold pan, and bring to the boil. Lower heat to a very gentle simmer for 10-15 minutes. Keep checking to make sure it doesn’t boil dry.
- Remove from heat, cover, and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
- Pour into a wide dish, add the sushi vinegar, and keep mixing until cool.
To make maki rolls
- Lay the bamboo mat in front of you, with the struts lying parallel to the edge of the work surface. Place a sheet of nori seaweed on top with the long side in line with the struts.
- Using damp fingers, scoop a little rice onto the nori sheet. Pat out the rice with finger tips, leaving the centimetre furthest away from you bare. This will overlap to seal the roll. The rice layer should be around half a centimetre thick.
- Place the chosen filling in a line along the edge of the rice closest to you. Lift the sushi mat with your thumbs, holding the fillings close with your fingers, and push forward firmly - lift and roll the rice away from you, to form a firm cylinder. Press to seal.
- Using a sharp knife, slice into 6 to 8 bite-sized pieces just before serving. Serve with soy sauce on the side, a little wasabi paste, and sushi ginger to cleanse the palate.
To make an inside out roll
- Line the mat with cling film, and then follow steps 1 and 2 above, covering the whole sheet of nori in sushi rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Flip the nori sheet over so the rice touches the clingfilm, and lay fillings directly onto the nori sheet. Use the clingfilm to help you form the rolls.
To learn more about how to make sushi, read our Introduction to Japanese Cookery from Reiko Hashimoto, the author of Hashi: A Japanese Cookery Course. Or browse our huge range of Japanese Cookware and Ingredients to get your storecupboards sushi-ready!
After a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant Nicola became obsessed with seeking the best flavours from around the world. She started Sous Chef in 2012, and is always sharing her knowledge of ingredients and writing recipes to showcase those products. Learning from the products, Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola has written the majority of the recipes on the Sous Chef website, all of which are big on flavour.