Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guest post: Homemade cucumber sushi

Of all the so-called "ethnic" foods one can serve up, homemade sushi seems to strike a good share of fear into the hearts of cooks who otherwise have no qualms about dishes that require trips to foreign markets, or strange spices, or presumably difficult techniques. But honestly, sushi is so simple to make at home, and so delicious, I can't figure out why more people don't do it. Even some cooks here on NTMC claim they'd "never" attempt it, so here's my brief pep talk—and tutorial—aimed to prove sushi simple.

Here's (all) you'll need:

Two cups cooked short grain, "sushi" rice. This can be purchased in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets. I cook mine in a rice cooker. Two cups of rice will make about three rolls of sushi.

One English cucumber, sometimes called hothouse cucumbers. These have more meat on the cucumber, and less seeds, and, in my opinion, better flavor. But honestly, a regular old cucumber will work too.

Sushi nori. Again, many supermarkets sell this. It's simply sheets of nori, the right size for rolling sushi. If you buy your nori in an Asian market, ask specifically for sushi nori, as many Asian markets also sell Korean style nori which is far saltier, and spicier, and greasier, and well, delicious on its own but it won't roll up right at all.

Mirin. This is a sweet rice seasoning—not vinegar!

Bamboo sushi rolling "mat". You can buy these in all Asian markets, or even on Amazon.

Small bowl of warm water.

Getting started:

First, peel and seed the cucumber, then cut into long, thin strips. Next, sprinkle the cooled rice with the mirin and toss. The mirin lightly seasons the rice, and makes it a bit less sticky when rolled. Next, lay the sheet of nori on the bamboo mat, then spread an even 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer of rice along all but about two inches of the nori, leaving a bit of nori free at the top for sealing. You'll have to play with the thickness of the layer of rice to get the amount right, but after a few rolls, you'll get the hang of it. My local sushi chef also compresses the rice between his hands before he lays it on the nori. This makes the roll nice and tight, so go ahead and try!

 Next, layer strips of cucumber into the middle of the nori. I usually cut the cucumber into 1/4 inch strips and use about three to four of these per roll.

 Begin rolling:

 The goal here is to keep the roll right. Use both hands and don't be afraid. The mat will prevent you from breaking the nori. When you get to the end, wet the edge of the nori with the warm water, and seal the roll.

Moisten a sharp knife with water, and cut the roll into inch wide pieces. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

 See how easy? And so much better than supermarket sushi!

Leightongirl blogs at


  1. I'm having fits of envy right now. My town is so backward they don't have those kind of ingredients available! Looks like I'll be ordering from Amazon or driving north in search of. *sigh* Makes me miss CA all the more.

  2. I still want private lessons. But, will definitely pick up the supplies to give it a try. You do make it sound easy.

  3. Definitely on the list of must-tries. Em is a HUGE sushi fan, and I just got a rice cooker for Hanukkah, so I'm golden.

    One do you use the sushi roller thingy? It looks like it would roll INTO the sushi...Do you just kind of use it to push the sushi up, and then pull it back or something?

  4. Actually, you roll it up INSIDE the bamboo mat, sort of adjusting as you go. I wish there were an analogy but I honestly can't think of one. Maybe I should post a video...

  5. Please post a video! I've always wanted to learn how to make sushi!

    You really do make it sound magically easy...

  6. Dude, you don't even *eat* seaweed! Or is nori an exception? Thanks for the rolling tips, regardless.