Sushi rolls are the most popular type of sushi eaten in the West. You may have taken sushi many times and wondered how the delicious rolls are made. The following recipe provides basic ingredients, utensils and instructions for making traditional sushi rolls. If you want to try out this recipe at home, ensure that you have all your ingredients and utensils available before you start.

A. How to Prepare Sushi Rice

Ingredients:

* Rice – 500g – Use only matured short grain rice grown in Japan, Italy or California
Sushi chefs never use long grain rice because it is too dry to mould and shape.
* Water – 625ml – Ideally, you should make the ratio of rice to water about one to one quarter.
* Sushi vinegar – 120ml – Can be produced by mixing rice vinegar (200ml), granulated sugar (120ml) and salt (2.5g) in a stainless steel saucepan and heating it till the sugar dissolves and then putting it aside to cool.

Utensils:

* Uchiwa (paper fan)
* Shamoji (spatula or flat wooden scoop)
* Handai (wooden bowl)
* Sieve

Instructions:

1. Put the rice inside a bowl. Pour water on the rice and swirl the bowl around to cause any dirt to float on the water surface. Drain out the water, using your palm to prevent the rice from pouring out.

2. Pour more water into the rice. Wash it by stirring it with your palm, then drain out the water again. Repeat this step about three or four times till the water becomes clear.

3. While draining out the water for the last time, use a sieve or colander and allow the water to drain out from the rice for about half an hour so the rice surface can absorb moisture.

4. Put the rice and cooking water (625ml) in a saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Bring the rice to boil on medium heat. After the rice water boils, lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Cut off the heat and allow it to simmer for another 10 minutes.

5. Use the flat wooden spoon to take the rice out of the saucepan and then place it in a shallow container or the handai. Spread out the rice evenly without crushing the grains.

6. Add sushi vinegar immediately, spreading it evenly over the rice surface. With your spatula, gently cut and fold portions of the rice to mix the vinegar evenly into the rice. Take care not to smash the rice grains.

7. As you do step 6, fan the rice with the paper fan so it cools rapidly. The rice should cool down completely within 10 minutes and it should be throughly coated with vinegar.

8. Use the rice within an hour after preparing it and do not refrigerate it.

B. How to Make Maki-zushi (Sushi Rolls)

Ingredients:

* Cooked sushi rice – 200g per roll for thick sushi rolls (futomaki)
* Toasted nori sheet
For Sushi Filling:
* Omelette (tamago) sliced into thin strips
* Tuna (maguro) sliced into thin strips
* Grilled eel (unagi) sliced into thin strips
* Cucumber (kyuri) cut into sticks
* Gourd shavings (kampyo) cut into ribbons
* Soy sauce (for dipping)
* Wasabi (for dipping)
* Sushi vinegar

Utensils:

* Makisu (bamboo mat for rolling the sushi)
* Bowl for vinegar water
* Chopping board

Procedure:

1. Put the makisu on the chopping board and put a sheet of nori on your makisu, with the shiny toasted side face down.

2. Prepare vinegared water (tezu) in a bowl. Wet both hands with tezu. Then use both hands to pick up about 200g of sushi rice and put it on the nori.

3. Spread out the layer of sushi rice evenly on the nori surface to create a thickness of about 10mm. Leave a small gap at the farthest edge from you. Dab the gap on the nori with some tezu.

4. Make a small groove in the middle of the rice and put the filling across the groove. Lay the fillings side-by-side and ensure that they are not excessively moist.

5. Start rolling the makisu gradually from the farthest edge and use your fingers to stop the fillings from getting displaced. Press down on the makisu slightly without allowing the rice to come out from the sides.

6. When the makisu has nearly enveloped your sushi completely, pull the end out so that it does not roll up with the sushi. Hold the makisu around the sushi and pull out the second end gently.

7. Press the sides of the sushi roll gently with your fingers and flatten it to completely take out the makisu.

8. Dip a sharp knife into the tezu and cut the long sushi roll into two. Place the two halves beside each other and cut both halves into two again. Always use a steady sawing motion to cut the sushi roll.

9. Serve the sushi rolls immediately after you finish cutting them.

Conclusion

Making sushi rolls with this basic procedure requires some practice to obtain optimum results. You may substitute some of the filling ingredients to give you a richer or more flavourful sushi roll.

How Sushi is Traditionally Made