Introduction: Vegetarian Sushi for Beginners: How to Create a Basic Sushi Roll

This is a step-by-step guide outlining the process of rolling a simple sushi dish. The following instructions are intended for those who would like to experiment with the art of rolling sushi and develop the technique to apply to more complex sushi rolls. The steps are simple, easy to use, and FUN! Sushi is a delicious, specialty dish which is often expensive. Learning the basics of rolling your own sushi will allow you to create this dish for a fraction of the price.

Creating sushi can be a great way to entertain dinner guests and is actually a fun process! Patience, attention to detail, and an appreciation for sushi are the only prerequisites for this how-to; no prior experience rolling sushi needed. The process will take approximately one hour and produce around 5 rolls, perfect for 2-3 people. Invite your friends to help for a great group activity!

Step 1: Step 1: Gather the Needed Ingredients and Materials

All of the ingredients and materials in this basic Sushi roll can generally be found at your local super market. Use only fresh ingredients for best results!

Ingredients List:
  • 2 Cups short grain or medium grain rice
  • 1/4 Cup rice vinegar
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 1 Package roasted seaweed sheets
  • 2 Carrots (whole)
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Avocado
  • Cream cheese (block form)
  • Soy sauce (for dipping)
  • Wasabi sauce (for use as a garnish
**NOTE** Raw and cooked fish such as salmon or tuna can easily be added to this recipe to create a non-vegetarian sushi, HOWEVER, it is important to use sushi grade cuts of raw fish to avoid illness.

Materials List:
  • Cooking pot for preparing rice
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Rolling mat (bamboo sushi mats are available at specialty stores, but a thin, flexible, plastic sheet also works well)
  • Small bowl
  • Sharp, non-serrated knife
  • Cutting board

Step 2: Step 2: Prepare the Sticky Rice

Sushi rice is often referred to as "sticky rice." Some simple additions to a basic rice recipe will yield the sticky rice needed for making sushi.

Cook the Rice:
  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in the cooking pot.
  2. Add the two cups of short or medium grain rice to boiling water.
  3. Keep rice at low boil, slowly reducing heat and stirring periodically.
  4. Remove rice from heat when all water has been absorbed by the rice.
  5. Transfer rice to the large mixing bowl and place into refrigerator to cool.
**NOTE** to save time, complete Step 3: Prepare The Sushi Fillers while waiting for the rice to cool.

Add "Stick" to the Rice:

**WARNING** Rice may still be hot toward the center of the bowl. Use care to avoid burning yourself.
  1. Mix rice vinegar and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Pour mixture over rice in the large mixing bowl
  3. Use fingers to mix rice/vinegar mixture evenly with rice in the bowl

Step 3: Step 3: Prepare the Sushi Fillers

The fillers provide the substance for your sushi roll and need to be cut appropriately.

**WARNING** Knife will be sharp! Avoid personal injury. Also, use a cutting board to avoid damaging your counter top and dulling your knife.
  1. Clean and peel the carrots and cucumber.
  2. Slice carrots and cucumber length-ways to create long, narrow strips as shown.
  3. Remove avocado from skin, remove pit, and slice into narrow strips length-ways as shown.
  4. Remove cream cheese from packaging and slice into long, narrow strips as shown.

Step 4: Step 4: Load the Sushi Roll

Orienting the seaweed sheets correctly, properly adding the sticky rice, and placing the filler ingredients in the right location will make rolling the sushi much easier and prevent some common mishaps.
  1. Place a seaweed sheet on the sushi roller, shiny side down.
  2. Spread sticky rice evenly across the seaweed sheet.
  3. Leave a one inch tab of seaweed exposed (with no rice) along the far edge as shown.
  4. Place a carrot strip, cucumber strip, cream cheese, and avocado across the rice bed as shown.
**NOTE** Wet fingers in a small bowl of water often during step 2 to keep the rice from sticking to your fingers.

Step 5: Step 5: Roll the Sushi

Rolling the sushi into a clean, even roll is one of the most difficult parts of this process. You may need to practice this step several times until you get it perfected but don't give up!! Follow these steps and you will be creating perfect rolls in no time. The trick is to take your time, and practice, practice, practice!
  1. Lightly dab the exposed tab of seaweed sheet with wet fingers (This will act as a "glue" to hold the wrap together).
  2. Using your sushi roller, begin rolling the sushi from the near edge using firm, even pressure.
  3. Roll seaweed with the sushi roller until the roller would be folded into the sushi itself (You do not want the roller in your sushi).
  4. Allow the sushi roller to separate from the seaweed sheet as shown.
  5. Finish rolling the sushi forward until the seaweed sheet adheres to itself on the moistened tab at the far edge.
**NOTE** Be firm enough throughout the rolling process to cause the sticky rice to adhere to the filler ingredients, but not so hard that the rice pushes out of the ends of your roll, or the seaweed sheet tears. Keep trying until you can feel the appropriate pressure!

Step 6: Step 6: Cut the Sushi Into Pieces

You are almost finished! Now you must cut your sushi roll into smaller pieces. Following these steps will help you make clean cuts and avoid ripping the seaweed sheet holding the ingredients together.

**WARNING** Knife is sharp! Avoid personal injury.
  1. Be sure you are using a non-serrated knife (A serrated knife will tear the seaweed and make a mess of your sushi roll).
  2. Begin by cutting the sushi into one inch slices.
  3. Try to use one or two smooth downward slices per cut ("Sawing" at the sushi will also tear the seaweed and make a mess of the sushi roll).

Step 7: Step 7: Present Your Sushi!

Congratulations!! Your dish is complete! Some simple presentation steps will help finish off your sushi and impress your friends.
  1. Garnish each piece with a bit of wasabi.
  2. Set out with a small dish of soy sauce for dipping the sushi in.
  3. Gather the chopsticks!
  4. Devour, Enjoy, Repeat.
Once you have mastered the technique of rolling this simple sushi roll, you will be ready to attempt more complex and impressive rolls of sushi. Until then, enjoy learning the art of rolling your own simple, vegetarian sushi!