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homemade sushi rolls and pickled ginger

I am fan of sushi, especially sushi rolls. I tried sushi for the first time maybe a decade ago; I don’t even remember ever seeing a restaurant in Maine (though I am sure there are plenty now), but Seattle certainly has its share and I’ve sampled more than one. My favorite is Moshi Moshi, with its beautiful lit cherry tree sculpture, creative cocktail menu and extensive list of rolls; I would walk a mile for a Ginger-san roll. I’ve spent a good amount of time at Japonessa, Musashi’s, Wasabi Bistro and even Blue C. Though I am comfortable ordering and becoming more adventurous in what I try, sushi always seems like a restaurant-only meal, something too complicated to make at home, with too many exotic ingredients and fancy techniques. As of last night, my opinion has changed! I am comfortable and confident making sushi rolls at home after spending an evening testing out my new SushiQuik set.

California roll on the left; vegetable & tofu roll on the right

I spent the afternoon shopping for ingredients at Uwajimaya; as it was my first time, I needed everything from rice to wasabi powder to the fish and vegetables we bought as fillings. I was lucky to have my friend A there to help, both with the shopping and later with the roll making; she made rolls with a bamboo mat previously and was able to offer expertise and opinions, comparing this to her prior experiences, as well as some fantastic ideas for ingredient combinations and fine, fine knife skills. She also found the cutest box (yes, box) of sake for us to drink with our meal. It was a blast to cook with her and I am incredibly grateful for her expertise and feedback.

prepping ingredients for sushi rolls

We made four rolls altogether: spicy tuna with cucumber and scallions; classic California with imitation crab (surimi), avocado and cucumber; a vegetable roll with fried tofu, red bell pepper and cucumber; and shrimp with cucumber, avocado, wasabi and cilantro. The latter was my favorite, so sweet and flavorful. All the vegetables were cut while the rice steamed; A mixed up wasabi and I made an easy spicy mayo for the tuna. A quick note about fish for sushi: Uwajimaya was a deliberate destination, knowing that their seafood department offers some of the highest quality, sushi-grade tuna, salmon, and other raw fish. It is imperative that you use high-quality fish when you make rolls at home; if you’re at all skeptical about the fish you have access to, if it doesn’t specifically say “sashimi-grade”, stick to cooked fish and seafood, like the surimi/crab sticks we found or shrimp, and vegetables. It’s just not worth risking. You can make many fine rolls with vegetables.

bamboo mat on the left; SushiQuik rolling mat on the right

We made three of the rolls with the SushiQuik set and the last with a traditional bamboo mat in order to compare the process. With the SushiQuik Starter Kit, you receive a base stand, a training frame for putting the rice onto your nori sheet, a rice paddle, a rolling mat, two end caps and a sushi roll cutter. All items are dishwasher safe, a definite bonus and one of the highlights for me of this product. You can’t put your bamboo mat through the dishwasher, so it must be painstakingly wrapped in plastic wrap before each use if you want to keep it for any length of time. The rolling mat was covered in nori flakes, sticky rice, avocado and a little bit of spicy tuna when I was done and it was great to throw it right into the dishwasher.

SushiQuik base with training frame over a sheet of nori

As for the process of rolling the sushi with a SushiQuik, it was essentially comparable to using a bamboo mat; the plastic rolling mat that comes with the kit was just as effective and easy to roll as the bamboo one we had. A and I both agreed that the base stand was unnecessary, so wobbly that it complicated the process, so we stopped using it. The training frame was helpful for getting the right depth and coverage of rice on the nori sheet, especially for me, since I had no, well, frame of reference. We didn’t use the end caps, but I thought it was clever that they double as containers for your soy (or other dipping) sauce when you are ready to eat. By far, the most useful and best part of the kit was the sushi roll cutter. It holds everything in place and allows for even, perfect cuts. That roll cutter is a must-have for anyone who plans to make sushi rolls at home on a regular basis. The picture below is not a great one, but does show how evenly the roll can be cut with the roll cutter.

spicy tuna roll cut with the SushiQuik sushi roll cutter

After a few weeks of recipe research, a busy shopping afternoon and a really fun evening of making rolls, I am so excited to have the SushiQuik set so I can make sushi rolls at home all the time! I have 46 nori sheets, a ton of wasabi paste and most of a package of surimi to ensure that I will do it again… but the truth is that I had so much fun and was so proud of the rolls we made. For a beginner and a novice trying a new product, we turned out four restaurant-quality, tasty rolls in just about an hour, and most of that time was spent prepping ingredients, steaming rice and reading directions. I would be proud to serve any of those rolls again, and have a few more ideas to try– we ran out of cooked rice last night, or there would have been other combinations on the table. My husband was so impressed he asked me to make more rolls for dinner tonight, which I will probably do, since I have so many filling ingredients left over. If you are a sushi lover hoping to replicate some of your favorite rolls at home at a fraction of the cost, consider checking out SushiQuik— in addition to the products, the website has a video, customer reviews and even some recipes to help get you started. You should go take a look! Meanwhile, I’ll be in the kitchen trying some out new rolls.

our dinner: four rolls, steamed edamame and hot sake

I was given a SushiQuik Starter Set to test, but the opinions and words in this review are unbiased and my own.