No matter how you look at it, sushi is fun! It’s fun to go to a sushi restaurant, it’s fun to eat sushi and explore new flavors and textures – and if you’ve never tried it before – sushi is fun to make!

Before you start on your sushi making journey, let’s get one thing straight, becoming a sushi master can take a lifetime and, although it may be difficult to reach expert restaurant-style sushi at home, that’s all the more reason to start practicing now and take that first step! Following our beginner’s guide to making homemade sushi, we’ll lay out the basics and where to start so that you can become an itamae in no time.

Step 1: Sushi Rice

The most important part of your homemade rolls is your sushi rice! You’ll need the right rice and the right cooking style. Rice comes in a variety of different lengths and sizes, so it is important to use short-grain rice for the job, because it becomes a sticky rice when cooked. This stickiness comes from the high amount of starch called amylopectin, which helps the rice to form a more compact, tender and creamy texture, unlike long grain rice which has less starch and remains separate.

Italian Sushi
Italian Sushi with Short Grain Rice

We use Carolina® Short Grain Rice, which is specially crafted for making sushi and is a staple for other Asian inspired dishes like bibimbap and onigiri

Step 2: Rinse and Repeat 

The first step to preparing your short grain rice is to rinse it out with cold water. It may appear milky at first but keep rinsing it until the water is clear and transparent. This helps to clear off any excess starch from the rice granules before cooking. After, use a sealed container so the water vapor can’t escape, such as a Japanese rice cooker (suihanki), an instant pot or pressure cooker. Don’t forget that important detail, however insignificant it may seem, trust us it helps the rice to cook perfectly for your sushi. While your rice is cooking start preparing your mix of rice vinegar, salt and sugar, which will help to give your rice that characteristic flavor and aroma. 

Step 3: Stirred not shaken

When your sumeshi-sushi rice- is finished cooking, you’ll need to stir it so that it loses any excess humidity and cools. Traditionally, this process was carried out in a wooden bowl called a hangiri and the rice would be stirred with a wooden paddle called a shamoji. After stirring, add in the prepared dressing mixture and let it cool further before handling it. To be a real pro, use an uchiwa or traditional paper and bamboo fan to help air it out before handling it. 

Step 4: Handle with care 

Nowadays, you don’t need to have all of the traditional Japanese tools to make great sushi-although it does look cooler. More importantly, carefully handle your ingredients and follow the instructions to make a good sumeshi. Try out different recipes to see which one is the best for you! You may even consider investing in a suihanki for all of your sushi meals or a good set of hocho– Japanese knives- which are the true “soul” of any accomplished itamae

Get Rolling

If you’re a beginner or simply love vegetables, you may want to stick with a simple vegetarian sushi roll. Find nori seaweed sheets for making sushi and wrap your favorite ingredients like carrot, cucumber, cream cheese or guacamole inside. This recipe is great for those you can’t easily get their hands on sushi-grade fish. Test out your skills handling the makisu or bamboo stick, for rolling the sushi and serve it all with a good soy sauce, wasabi and ginger and you’re all set.

If you’re feeling up to the challenge of using sushi-grade fish, try out Sushi from authentic grains with tuna and avocado wrapped in nori seaweed sheets. This roll is quite elegant and simple to prepare. Once you’ve mastered the basics, try adding in new ingredients and take inspiration from your favorite sushi restaurant rolls.

Curry Salmon Sushi Stacks
Curry Salmon Sushi Stacks

Think outside the box- or nori sheet- and take your sushi up a notch with these curry salmon sushi rice stacks. Leave the nori out and create a show-stopping stack of sweet and savory flavors. 

What are you waiting for? Get rolling on one of our sushi suggestions or try your hand at something new, as long as you have the right sushi rice!

Make sure to keep this guide close at hand when you’re making sushi so you don’t forget the basics. It all starts with one step forward in your journey to becoming the master of your very own sushiya or sushi kitchen. Kampai!