How to Make Sushi at Home

how to make sushi

train suite shiki shima journey to japan banner smallSushi is one of those things we usually don’t think of making ourselves — but why not? It’s pretty easy and you can add what you like to the mix (no Fruit Loops please). We wanted to learn how to make sushi at home so we spoke to sushi chef Yuichiro “Junior” Takebata of Miyabi Sushi Bar in Charleston, South Carolina.

Hailing from a small town outside of Kyoto, Japan, Takebata still orders most of his seafood from purveyors that source directly from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, the biggest fish market in the world. With these ingredients, he crafts beautifully plated sushi rolls, nigiri, and sashimi, as well as other traditional Japanese dishes both raw and cooked.


Yuichiro ‘Junior’ Takebata of Miyabi Sushi Bar in Charleston, South Carolina

How to Make Sushi at Home

You will need:

  • Bamboo sushi mat
  • Plastic wrap
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Rice cooker

Choosing and preparing the rice:

  1. Choose a short grain rice (preferably a Japanese brand). Short grain rice is much starchier than long grain and will therefore hold together better.
  2. Cook according to directions. Note that 2 cups of uncooked rice will yield approximately 6-8 rolls.
  3. Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Stir in 4 oz of sushi rice vinegar to rice (or mix 4 oz rice vinegar with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt, and  let dissolve).

Chef tip: Make sure to distribute vinegar thoroughly through rice, but don’t put too much pressure on the rice when stirring, because it will break down the starches and make it too sticky.

Choosing the right seaweed:

Seaweed comes in many grades; make sure to select at least a silver-grade seaweed, but preferably a gold-grade.


To roll a sushi roll:

  1.     Place seaweed (shiny side down) on a sushi mat covered in plastic wrap.
  2.     Wet hands in mixture of water and rice vinegar. Spread about 4 oz of  prepared sushi rice evenly on seaweed.
  3.     Place ingredients in a thin line towards top of seaweed (closer to you).
  4.     Begin rolling the sushi away from you, tucking in the end.
  5.     Tighten the roll and remove the mat.
  6.     Slice the sushi roll into eight pieces.

Chef tip: The water and vinegar mixture keeps rice from sticking to your hands. Keep hands moist, but not dripping wet.

Easy Rolls to Make

California Roll

  • Sesame mayo*
  • Avocado
  • Imitation crab
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

*Sesame mayo: Mix 1 cup mayo with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and sesame seeds to taste.

Salmon Roll

  • Salmon (Chef recommends Scottish Salmon, but Atlantic will work as well)
  • Green onion, diced finely

California Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

  • Tuna (Chef recommends saku tuna, which can be found in most Asian grocery stores)
  • Sriracha mayo

Crunch Roll

  • Sesame mayo (see recipe above)
  • Green onion, diced finely
  • Tempura shrimp*
  • Smelt eggs

*Tempura shrimp: Mix tempura flour with egg yolk and cold water. Dip shrimp in batter (leave tails on), let excess drip off, and carefully fry in oil.

Three Knives in Chef Takebata’s Knife Kit


Gyuto Knife (Chef’s Knife)
Used For: filleting smaller fish, cutting sushi rolls, and chopping vegetables.

Yanagi Knife
Used for: slicing fish (cuts the most consistent portions) and peeling cucumbers, radishes, and daikon.

Deba Knife
Used for: mongering whole (larger) fish.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of The Manual’s larger Journey to Japan travel guide. Over the course of a month, our writers had the pleasure of experiencing Japan in all its forms, from high-rise bars in Tokyo to traditional tea ceremonies in Kyoto. We hope this series will not only inform, but inspire you to take your own trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.