This week we’ve been talking at-home sushi. We started with a play-by-play on rolling your own makizushi rolls and moved on to look at sushi mats, the simple tool that makes it all happen. Then, we offered up a simple recipe for a salmon asparagus roll to give you a place to start. Ready to put it all together? One of the best ways to get your roll on is with a sushi-rolling dinner party.
The great thing about throwing a sushi party (other than the simple fact that it’s tons of fun, delicious, and way cheaper than taking everyone out) is that each person’s creativity and personal preferences results in a slightly different roll. Some folks like to stick to their own creations, but I love swapping a few pieces with each guest so that in the end, you’ve got a nice little combo plate.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Sushi Rolling Stations
The best way to do roll-your-own sushi is with individual work stations, so that each of your party guests gets to customize their own roll and get a feel for the process. For each station, set up a bamboo sushi mat covered with a piece of wax paper or rectangle of clean plastic grocery bag. If you’re rolling deep, set up about one station for every four people and have folks rotate out and take turns.
In a separate area, set up at least one cutting board and sharp knife to make a slicing station, where guests can take turns cutting their rolls into individual pieces.
You can get a pack of roasted nori seaweed sheets at any Asian market. Many grocery stores also carry these in the Asian or “ethnic” isle. A lot of nori will be labeled specifically for sushi. There are a lot of brands and quality levels out there, so if you have the option, spend a little more on a high-quality pack rather than going for the cheapest one. Roasted nori should be flaky, almost brittle, so if the pack bends easily or seems soft, look for another one. One pack should be plenty for up to six people.
Sushi rice is a short-grain variety that gets sticky when you cook it. You can buy bags of specialty “sushi” rice, but you can also sub a short-grain white rice, as long as you know how to prepare it properly. I highly recommend using a rice cooker to take the guesswork out of making your sushi rice. You should also add a tablespoon of rice vinegar for each cup of rice. Some recipes call for a tablespoon of sugar as well. We went through about a cup of cooked rice per person.
Decide ahead of time what building blocks you want to provide to your guests, and before they arrive, get everything prepped and ready to go. Keep in mind that you want everything to have a long, thin shape so that it will roll up easily—here we have julienned cucumber, thin-sliced avocado, and long, skinny blanched asparagus. Lots of green. You can use whatever you like—carrot, cream cheese, sprouts, egg omelet, crab stick, and even fruit.
Of course, the star of any great makizushi roll is the fish. It is very important that if you’re including raw fish in your rolls, you make sure that it’s uber-fresh and sushi-grade and preferably wild-caught as opposed to farm-raised. If you’re unsure about picking it out yourself, ask your friendly seafood market or the guy behind the seafood counter at the grocery store for help—you can even have them slice it for you. I lucked out with this beautiful piece of freshly-caught Alaskan salmon from a friend and a culinary school-trained buddy with a good, sharp knife. We went through about a pound of fish for four hungry people.
Along with adding a little rice vinegar to your sushi rice, it’s a good idea to have an extra little bowl set out that your guests can use to dip their fingers, which will keep the rice from sticking as they spread. It’s also useful to dab a little rice vinegar onto the sides of your knife before you slice your roll, which results in clean, neatly cut sushi.
Of course, the table isn’t complete until you’ve got some good soy sauce, plenty of prepared wasabi, and thin-sliced pickled ginger. Provide small bowls to each of your guests so that they can mix up the soy at their own desired level of spice—if you don’t have little prep bowls or ramekins, teacup saucers work well too. Dole out the chopsticks, and you’re ready to roll.