DIY Sushi at Home: A Video Collaboration!

Vegetarian and fishy sushi rolls brim with quick carrot-daikon pickles, shiso, shiitake mushrooms, scallions, avocado, cucumber, shiso, and kaiware sprouts. A how-to guide and a video collaboration with Snixy Kitchen. All images and video were shot and styled collaboratively by Sarah and myself.

My dad instilled in me a love of sushi from an early age. We would sit together at the sushi bar, clean our hands with steamy washcloths, and order directly from the chef – California rolls and yellowtail nigiri for me, more exotic choices for him – until we were full. One of my favorites was a big, fat vegetable roll filled with pickled carrot, avocado, cucumber, sweet egg, and other things I didn’t know the name for. 

Sushi remains one of my very favorite things to eat. It’s light and clean-feeling, and I can never seem to get enough. Luckily for me, we have a superb sushi restaurant in our neighborhood called Umi. I never miss a chance to take out-of-town guests there, especially my dad, and I use its proximity to our laundromat to my advantage as often as I can get away with. Umi boasts a menu full of unique and sustainable fish, nightly specials ranging from pristine tiny oysters to butterfish to Dungeness crab, and fresh hon wasabi root grated to order. They have a handful of small plates – grilled fish and meats – and delicious vegetable starters such as grilled eggplant and sesame-dressed broccoli rabe.

The only thing Umi doesn’t have is a big vegetable roll (though sometimes they’ll let you order a vegetable tempura roll off the menu [but you didn’t hear it from me]). So when Sarah let on to the fact that she makes sushi on a weekly basis, I gave her sad puppy-dog eyes until she agreed to show me how. I headed to the East Bay to make my veggie futomaki dreams come true.

We spent the day buying up everything we could find at Monterey Market and Tokyo Fish Market, then concocting a sushi feast complete with quick carrot-daikon pickles, kaiware and pea sprouts, tamago, shiitake mushrooms, umeboshi, shiso, scallions, cucumber, avocado, and two kinds of fish. (She also fed me this incredibly delicious pineapple fried rice from her blog – yum!)

And we made a video!

Someday I hope to be as good at rolling sushi as Sarah is. Until then, she should expect to find me showing up on her doorstep at odd hours, with a bottle of sake and a hopeful look in my eye.

Head over to Snixy Kitchen for Sarah’s account of our day and some recipes.

I hope this post has inspired you to throw a sushi party of your own (and invite me!). And if not, there are always sushi bowls for a quick fix…

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Turning Japanese:
Vegetarian Miso Ramen with Rice Noodles, Roasted Sweet Potato and Broccolini
Grapefruit, Ginger and Lemongrass Sake Cocktails
Miso Soba Soup with Sriracha Roasted Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

Vegetable Maki with Quick Carrot-Daikon Pickles and Shiitakes

Tamago (sweet omelette) can be found in Japanese markets, or make your own. This recipe makes more than enough pickles for a whole lotta rolls; extras will keep refrigerated for weeks and can be put in salads or sandwiches (I’m thinking bahn mi for the rest of mine!). We used a combination of yellow and orange carrots, purple and watermelon daikon, but feel free to play with any roots you like. They only need to sit for 30 minutes or so to become tangy, or you can make them a few days ahead and let them do their thing in the refrigerator. I’ve included my favorite sushi fixings below but feel free to mix and match as you like. 

Get the rice recipe, fish suggestions, and rolling technique over at Snixy Kitchen.

For the pickles:
(Makes 1 pint of pickles, enough for many rolls)
1 large or 2 smaller yellow carrots
1 large or 2 smaller orange carrots
1 large watermelon daikon radish
1 small purple (or white) daikon radish
3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup boiling water
1 T fine sea salt
1 T sugar

For the shiitake mushrooms:
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
a splash of mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
a big pinch of salt

Other fun things to put in vegetarian sushi:
tamago (sweet, cooked egg), sliced
scallion greens, slivered
ripe but firm avocado, sliced
cucumber, sliced
umeboshi (pickled plum) paste
kaiware (daikon radish) or pea sprouts
purple or green shiso leaves
seasoned sushi rice
toasted nori sheets
sesame seeds, for sprinkling

For serving:
pickled ginger
tamari or soy sauce

Make the pickles:
Peel the vegetables and slice them into thin matchsticks short enough to fit in a pint-sized canning jar. Pack them fairly tightly into the jar; you may not need them all. In a heat-proof measuring cup, stir the boiling water with the sugar and salt to until dissolved. Stir in the rice vinegar. Pour the brine over the vegetables in the jar; you may not need it all. Cover the jar and let the pickles sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to a few days in the refrigerator. To use, pull out a handful, dry on a paper towel, and roll!Cook the mushrooms:

Place the mushrooms in a colander and rinse briefly under running water (really, it’s ok!). Shake dry. Trim off any brown ends and slice them 1/4-inch thick. In a wide skillet, heat the sesame oil until it shimmers. Add the mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft and golden, adding more oil to the pan if it looks dry. Deglaze with the mirin and taste for seasoning. Let the mushrooms cool a bit before rolling.

36 thoughts on “DIY Sushi at Home: A Video Collaboration!”

  1. sushi always reminds me of my dad too! when i was little he always tried to get me to eat sashimi, but i only liked california rolls :)

    what a fun collaboration! i love these colourful little guys. awesome photos, as always!

  2. I had such a fun weekend(s) making sushi with you AND editing this video. I can't wait for our next video #addictedtovideo. I'm super jealous of your sushi-filled childhood – so you know things like what shiso leaves are called;)

  3. This post is amazing, I enjoyed reading it so much :)
    I loved all the photos, they look fun and tasty!
    The video was lovely, and the music too
    Sadly, I'm not a big fan of sushi. I've only tried it once, it was a vegetarian one, I took one bite and I couldn't eat it
    I've been meaning to try it again, and will soon!

  4. I miss sushi :( I'm vegetarian and here in Italy we haven't good veggie option at the sushi restaurant, and make all this (cooking rice, make fillings) just for me, since my boyfriend hate it, doesn't worth it…but you make me really want to!!

    1. When I lived in Bologna for a year, I missed sushi like CRAZY! (Also Mexican food!) You might give my sushi bowls a try – they're much less work and so satisfying. :)

  5. I love your photos! They´re lighter and "fresher" than ever, making the sushi rolls come alive quite literally and jumping out of my screen & straight into my mouth! And how enviable being familiar with sushi from a young age – coming from a small town in Germany, I learnt about it (and fallen in love with it) only when I was already grown up!

  6. So many happy memories with various friends at different sushi bars. One in particular where they made a sweet glazed eggplant sushi – hats off to that chef for creative vegetarian sushi! Now, thanks to you and Sarah I am definitely inspired to host a sushi making party. Our next girls' night is going to be awesome! If you ever feel like coming to Queensland, Australia you and Sarah are welcome to our sushi night. I'll even provide the sake ;)

    1. Aw!! Well Sarah was largely responsible for these beautiful images. But you're absolutely welcome to come sit in sometime. :) Your shots are gorgeous, though!

  7. NICE. Making homemade pickles for these is such a great plan! Also, I am jealous of the growing up eating sushi bit. I only started liking sushi at all after making a concerted attempt to expand my palate to it…which means I didn't like sushi until age 30. Now I could eat this entire platter, though!

  8. I really loved watching this video and listening to the charming music. I have many fond memories of our having sushi at various sushi restaurants in the LA area. I was proud of the fact that my little girl would actually like something as exotic as sushi. I think you were even game to eat raw shrimp and the toasted shrimp heads!

    I really have enjoyed eating at Umi with you. You're lucky to have a sushi restaurant in the neighborhood.

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