There is a sushi bar inside of Kroger Marketplace where workers show up at dawn every day and make fresh sushi. And wouldn’t you know that by afternoon, they are always handing out free samples to customers? Low and behold, my very young son absolutely fell in love with sushi. He wants it for his birthday dinner, he wants it for New Year’s, and he wants it just because he wants it! After shelling out $1 per piece for his beloved Spicy California Crunch Rolls a couple of times, I decided it was time to learn how to make sushi at home. How hard could it be?
I set out to watch some YouTube videos that allowed me to really see what they were doing, and I read some articles to figure out what basic supplies I really needed to do the job right. As it turns out, there are 3 essential kitchen tools: a sharp sushi knife, a rice paddle, and a bamboo mat. All of these items are super cheap if you have an Asian market nearby. I got all 3 items at my local G-Mart store for $2 or less per item. I have to say that my first attempt at making it went so well that it is now on my regular meal rotation!
So today was sushi night at my house, and I thought I’d take a few pictures and show you just how easy it really is! And it will save you a ton of money. Plus, you know it’s as fresh as it could possibly be!
SPICY CALIFORNIA CRUNCH ROLLS
Ingredients to make 2 whole sushi rolls:
- 3 imitation crab legs
- 1 seedless English cucumber
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 cup dry sushi rice
- 2 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
- French-fried onions (if you want crunch rolls)
- Spicy mayo (if you want spicy sushi)
- First, I prepare a batch of sushi rice...one cup of dry rice that has been rinsed repeatedly (like 10 times) until the water runs clear. This is not just any rice…make sure you buy some labeled specifically for sushi. It’s super sticky when cooked…to the point that you can’t touch it and expect to get it off your hands without eating it or washing it off in the sink! Be sure to prepare it carefully as directed on the package…you don’t handle it the way you do other types of rice. Once it boils, it has to remain covered and undisturbed throughout the cooking and cooling process…no stirring! Once it cools, you transfer it to a non-metal bowl and use the rice paddle to stir in 2 Tbsp. of seasoned rice vinegar. If you have natural rice vinegar (unseasoned), mix 1/8 cup of natural rice vinegar with 2 tsp. of sugar and 1/4 tsp. of Kosher salt in a small bowl. Stir it swiftly until all of the sugar and salt are dissolved. You now have your 2 Tbsp. of seasoned rice vinegar to add to the rice.
- Next, I lay out my bamboo mat and set a sheet of roasted seaweed on top. Then using the rice paddle, I carefully spread a solid layer of the prepared sushi rice over the seaweed sheet until it’s covered. You want just enough to cover it without making it super thick.
- Because we’re making California rolls, the rice goes on the outside instead of the inside, so the next step is to carefully lift the sheet of seaweed and flip it over rice-side down onto the bamboo mat. Once you’ve done that, place one and a half sticks of imitation crab legs near one end of the sheet, right along the longest length of the seaweed. Then you’ll need to use the sushi knife to peel the length of the English cucumber. Cut the peeled cucumber in half, and then carefully slice diagonally so you get a long triangular wedge of cucumber. Place that alongside the crab. Then cut an avocado in half, peel it, and then slice wedges of it and place them alongside the crab and cucumber.
- Once these 3 ingredients are in place, you can begin to roll up your sushi roll. Starting at the end closest to your ingredients, carefully roll the bamboo mat, squeezing the seaweed and rice layer tightly over the center ingredients, trying not to leave any gap in the middle. Once you’ve sealed up the center of the sushi roll, continue to roll the bamboo mat until the entire sushi has been rolled up. Then carefully unroll the mat from the sushi roll.
- Next, crumble up a bowl full of French fried onions and press them onto the sticky sushi rice until the whole outside of the sushi roll is covered.
- Then using the sushi knife, carefully slice the roll into pieces about 1/2 inch thick and place them onto a chilled sushi plate. I use plates that are filled with freezer gel, and I pre-freeze them to keep the sushi cold until I serve it.
- I repeat steps 2-5 to make a second sushi roll, and the single batch of sushi rice is just the right amount to make 2 rolls.
- Then the next step is to prepare to apply the spicy mayo sauce (if you’re making Spicy California Crunch Rolls) to your sliced sushi. If you want regular California Crunch Rolls, then skip this step. I purchase the spicy mayo from the sushi bar at Kroger. It costs $1.99 for one little plastic tub that’s just enough sauce for 2 whole sushi rolls. I like my sushi to look pretty and aesthetically pleasing, so I like to pour my spicy mayo into an icing press that’s normally used to decorate cookies.
- Using the icing press, I drizzle the spicy mayo sauce back and forth across the sushi pieces. Then it’s ready to serve!
Despite being a very messy labor of love, it’s actually quite easy to make, and the best part about making it is seeing all the empty plates after my kids have gobbled it up like lickety split!
This one batch of 2 whole sushi rolls is plenty to serve my family of 5. I get about 9 slices from each roll. And to keep the extra crab sticks in the package from being wasted, I make up packs of 3 sticks of crab per plastic snack-size Ziploc bag, and then place all of the bags inside a larger freezer bag. Then the next time I want to make sushi, all I have to do is pull out one of the snack-size bags and drop it in a bowl of cold water to thaw. No waste!
I hope you’ll try this in your home! It’s really so easy, and the more you make it, the faster it goes. It’s so much more affordable to make it yourself, and that means you can have it more often! Enjoy!