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  • Writer's pictureCarl Rosa

What does a beginner need to make sushi?

Updated: Apr 6



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When it comes to creating your own sushi at home, it's important to start small and easy. Don't put too much emphasis on establishing a full-blown 'sushi bar' in your kitchen. Trust me - I'm speaking from 18 years of experience. Purchase the basics, go easy on yourself and master the fundamentals. Then, you'll be in a much more confident position to upgrade your skills in the future and the entire sushi-making process will be self-educating...but most of all...fun. This is why we offer sushi classes at home - the satisfaction and education is invaluable.


The good news is that nearly every major grocery store is stocked with the basics for making sushi at home. Almost every supermarket in the USA now has an 'Asian Food Section' or even a 'Sushi Department' that provides the most commonly-used items. If you live in a sizable city, you may have large Asian food markets (Houston, Texas has nine of them) that can provide absolutely everything you'll need.


Here's a basic list of 10 items you can purchase as a DIY Sushi Chef at home:

  1. Sushi Rice - Always purchase short-grained, white rice which usually comes from the great state of California. You may be tempted to purchase medium-grain rice to save a buck or two. Don't do it. The difference in flavor, application, process and expectation is remarkable. Always use short-grain rice. You'll thank me later.

  2. Rice Cooker - I always recommend using a rice cooker to create your first steps at making sushi rice. During my last trips to Colorado, I purchased three rice cookers for $26 each (at Walmart). They are not only easy to use and clean but they're likely to last about 5 years or more. And if you find yourself enjoying making sushi at home, a rice cooker will be invaluable.

  3. Veggies - Just purchase the basics: cucumber and avocado. As you learn and create sushi in the future, you can always expand on your flavors and textures.

  4. Seasoned Rice Vinegar - It's important to note that you should not purchase regular rice vinegar. Instead, purchase seasoned rice vinegar. You'll see 'seasoned' displayed on the bottle. Seasoned rice vinegar is a slightly diluted rice vinegar with sugar and salt added for flavor. Regular rice vinegar won't have the flavor you're seeking.

  5. Nori - Most people aren't aware that nori is one of the most expensive items in the world of sushi. When you do the math, it can be eye-widening. A single packet of 10 nori sheets can cost about $5.00 and each sheet only weighs about 2.8 grams. Since 453 grams equals to one pound, that equates to 161 sheets of nori per pound. Since each sheet of nori costs 50 cents (10 nori sheets for around $5.00), that means nori averages $80 per pound. In fact, some of the most expensive (premium) nori can cost $160 per pound. So when you're first starting out, purchase a single pack of 10-full sheets and learn as you go. Keep them dry; they absorb moisture like cotton.

  6. Sushi Rolling Mat - If you're planning on creating sushi rolls, a single sushi-rolling mat will be a life-saver and make the process so easy for you. Even at the most expensive shops, they might cost you a whopping $3.00. Best of all, you can maintain them with warm soapy water and then a clean rinse of common kitchen faucet. Once they air dry, your sushi mat(s) will last for about 3 years.

  7. Seafood or Fish - This is easier then you might think. There are usually seafood options locally (and especially online) that provide pre-portioned, quality loins of salmon, tuna, red snapper and others. It's important to note that when you see the words 'Sushi Grade' on your seafood options, it's merely a marketing term. There isn't a certification nor grading system that qualifies any seafood as 'sushi grade.' It's a myth, a misnomer. If you need assistance from reputable vendors, consider ordering online from either Catalina Offshore Products or Riviera Seafood Club; great options that will deliver to your front door. If you reside in Houston, Texas, consider Ocean Waves.

  8. Soy Sauce - Always purchase any form of 'premium dark soy sauce.' Not only is this a great choice for sushi but a little goes a long way.

  9. Wasabi - Again, start small. Powdered wasabi (you can mix with water) or wasabi paste that's sold in a toothpaste-like tube are fairly inexpensive and a great way to start your sushi-at-home project. When I began making sushi at home, long before I became an instructor, I would save my wasabi to-go from a lunch or two at a local sushi bar. Since a little wasabi goes a long way and it has a very long shelf-life when refrigerated, it would be one less thing to make or purchase when you're ready to get started.

  10. Sauces - Referring back to the Asian food aisle in your local supermarket, a few inexpensive sauces can exponentially create a variety of flavors. I recommend the Kikkoman Takumi-Brand Sauces - triple ginger, original teriyaki, red spicy miso and garlic & green onion. Not only are they fantastic for a quality sushi experience, but you can use them for other cooking options...and they are great for dipping sauces and marinades.

Making sushi at home is not only a culinary delight but also a rewarding experience that allows for creativity, experimentation, and a deeper appreciation for this traditional Japanese art form. By mastering the techniques and understanding the ingredients, you can tailor sushi to your own preferences, dietary needs, and budget. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned chef, the journey of crafting sushi in your own kitchen is filled with satisfaction and appreciation from your own family and friends. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your rolling mat, and embark on a flavorful adventure that will surely leave a lasting impression on your taste buds and your culinary repertoire.


As you know, I'm here to help.


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