sushi at home

July 24, 2012 |  Category:   cooking life

I think the first time we made sushi ourselves was when we lived in Portland. Mark and I and a fellow roommate had emerged out of our long time vegetarianism to include fish and we started going out to eat sushi like we were making up for lost time. It quickly became expensive. So one day we went to this little Japanese market that sold sushi grade fish near our house and we read up on how to correctly make sushi rice. People, the rice is the key, because if you don’t prepare it right the sushi won’t taste right. It took us a couple of times, but the trick is to fan the rice as you carefully fold in the vinegar/sugar/salt mixture. It’s also best not to use a metal bowl while you do this. Wooden is best. Fanning the rice helps the heat and moisture evaporate quickly while making the rice appropriately sticky (note: I am not an expert in sushi rice. I’m not even Japanese, so feel free to chime in if you are and this is like, completely wrong).


We thought it would be fun for the girls to fan the rice, but after a few minutes of frantic fan waving that involved fanning everything but the rice, Mark just mixed the rice right near an actual fan. I’m not sure why we’ve never done this with the kids before, but it’s been about 15 years since we made sushi at home. When we went to roll the seaweed we were surprised we didn’t have a bamboo mat anymore, but I think they came out fine and we had plenty of rolls (in miracles of all miracles, Claudine has recently decided that she likes raw salmon). We even found a stray roll that had managed to camouflage itself on our black kitchen counters as we were cleaning up after dinner. It reminded me of the times the cats used to steal whole, uncut sushi rolls off the kitchen counter when we made them in Portland. Sometimes we’d find them hours later under the couch or something.
It was pretty fun to show the girls how to make something that we’ve only ever ordered in restaurants before. While Mark was making the rice, Mia exclaimed that it smelled like a sushi restaurant in here (see? It’s all about the rice!). And I don’t think we’ll wait another 15 years to do this at home either.
* by the way, there is such a thing as a raw fish limit. I always used to think that I could eat sushi everyday, all day till I couldn’t eat no more, but no. Apparently I have a raw fish limit and I reached it that night.

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  • Emily July 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Are those photos of your sushi?! Looks so professional! Last time we tried making sushi, it went so wrong we just ended up eating a bowl of sushi-mix!

  • gia July 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Right on, we did this as a family on new year’s eve and it is a fond memory. Did you go anywhere special to find the best raw fish?

  • Jenna July 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    @Emily it is! And nothing wrong with eating a bowl of sushi-mix!

  • Jenna July 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    @gia we bought the tuna at our loval farmers market and the salmon at a japanese market (sunrise mart) in the east village

  • flamedot July 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I’d just like to say that they look amazing and these photos are making me SO hungry! 🙂

  • Susan July 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Having sushi tonight…never tried to make ourselves, but this inspires me to try!

  • Rain July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    i’m pregnant and i dream about sushi every night. thinking about cheating and having a little bite one of these days. sigh.

    side note, what an adorable chopstick stand!

  • Elle July 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Is that sesame leaves in there I see? I love that toasty taste in my kimbap but I don’t think I’ve seen people use it in sushi before.

  • Jenna July 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    @Rain oh yeah…one of the worst things about pregnancy is not being able to eat sushi. Always the first meal I get after popping the kid out, ha!

  • Jenna July 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    @Elle those are shiso leaves.

  • Pink RonniePink Ronnie July 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    My goodness your homemade sushi looks amazing. Mine never looked like this! Thanks for the rice-fanning tip too. Never would’ve thought of that.
    Ronnie xo

  • Aya July 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    YUM. You just made me hungry. You are totally right about the fanning. I used to be in charge of the fanning (in a big wooden “bowl”) as a kid while making sushi with my grandma, which meant of course that I always ate about half the rice.
    And Emily–eating a bowl of sushi mix totally cool. That’s actually a thing. It’s called chirashi!

  • Annie From Seattle July 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    The thought of a cat carrying off a sushi roll and gnawing at it under the couch has me in stitches! Awesome!

  • Alison July 25, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Love sushi! Sometimes, when I’m lazy, and can’t be bothered with the whole making of sushi rice, I just have sashimi with rice mixed with nori flakes.

  • Lara July 25, 2012 at 3:17 am

    @Rain, I haven’t been pregnant but when/if that happens, I think I’ll probably go crazy making sushi at home with seaweed, rice, wasabi, and anything else besides raw fish.

  • susanna July 25, 2012 at 6:49 am

    i’m korean and my mum always had me on fanning duty when she made kimbap too… what a workout it was. yum!

  • fliss July 25, 2012 at 8:37 am

    You have inspired me to now make Sushi this weekend with my 2 eldest kids. …and you made me laugh with the raw fish limit! I think i had the same thought but have once over done it too.
    Lovely finding your blog.

  • Emily July 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Brilliant! My stepson is about to move in with us and I think implementing a sushi night every now and then is a brilliant idea!

  • jen July 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    wow, these look delicious. i am so going to do this with my kids one day. they love sushi!

  • Liz July 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    This has made me want to test where my raw fish limit is.

  • AgA July 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm


  • Anna July 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    We made sushi on the weekend. It had been a while, but suddenly I just HAD to make it. YUM! And so fun to make. I just wish my girls would eat it too.
    @ Rain – I went crazy making vegetarian sushi in the first trimester with baby #2, when I couldn’t stomach meat, or anything hot. So much so that it took me a while to come back to it, as I associated sushi with feeling sick 🙂

  • Caitlin July 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

    When I lived in Florida, where sushi-grade fish seemed abundant, my friends and I used to have sushi parties a few times a year (and you’re absolutely right about the rice, it makes all the difference). Since we moved to Brooklyn we haven’t had a single sushi party, mainly because I’m too intimidated to try to find sushi-grade fish in the city. I think you’ve just inspired me to make it happen. You say you got the fish from the farmer’s market?

  • Jenna July 26, 2012 at 9:57 am

    @caitlin oh, you shouldn’t be afraid to find sushi grade fish in NY, of all places. We’ve consistently gotten fish at japanese food stores, mostly sunrise mart in the east village (we’ve made tartare and ceviche many times). I don’t know why I was surprised to find fish at the farmer’s market, but maybe I never noticed before.

  • carrie July 27, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I’ve been making sushi at home lately – much easier than I expected. I’m vegetarian so we just make avocado rolls.
    I do half sushi rice and half short grain brown rice.
    I let my vinegar/sugar/salt mix sit a while to dissolve a bit before I pore it in. I’ve never fanned my rice. In my “cookbook” it says to have the rice cool off for a while with a dish towel covering the bowl.
    I haven’t used the bamboo mat either.
    Turns out fine, and my kids LOVE it.
    Now I just have to perfect a teriyaki sauce!

  • Savanah July 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Ever since my dad died holidays have been pretty tough for my family. So to take away some of the stress and expectations of the holidays, we started doing things completely different form typical holiday traditions and making homemade sushi is our new Thanksgiving tradition. It’s actually a really great think to do with your family and we certainly look forward to Thanksgiving every year now 🙂

  • alexis August 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Jenna, where do you get your fish from? I often want seafood for dinner but Brooklyn has such sparse seafood places…normally I’d go into Manhattan and hit Chinatown but since I now live and work in Brooklyn the prospect is paralyzing.

    • Jenna August 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      We usually get fish at Sunrise Mart in the East Village and we got the salmon there but Mark also got the tuna at our local farmers market.