Homemade maki rolls are a fun family “project” meal. The kids like being allowed to play with their food and get a little messy smashing the rice around. Of course we all like to experiment with our own filling combinations. I’m always surprised at how easily the veggies go down when the kids get some creative license with the meal. And as if you need any more convincing than kids eating their veggies, keeping the stove and oven off keeps the kitchen cool during these steamy summer days.
The only trick to the process is preparing everything ahead of time so it’s ready to roll (get it?) when you are. The rice needs to cook and cool so I start my rice cooker a couple hours before we want to eat and then take a little time to cut the rest of our ingredients into sticks.
The only specialty item you’ll need is the seaweed wrapping sheets, called nori. Can’t find nori sheets in your local grocery store? I found a huge pack here and had it delivered.
Here’s my prep process:
I get 3 measuring cups of short-grain rice going in my rice cooker, set it and forget it style. While it’s cooking, mix together
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
When the rice is cooked and has cooled slightly, drizzle the vinegar mixture over and stir it into the rice until thoroughly combined. The mix will be fragrant and becomes sticky as it continues to cool. Just set it aside on the counter uncovered for now.
While the rice is doing its thing I prepare everything else we’ll want to roll up. Here are some of our favorite fillings:
- cooked shrimp
- sushi grade salmon (although I prefer cooked)
- shredded carrot
- blanched asparagus
- cream cheese
I thaw cooked, deveined shrimp under running water in the sink and cut all the veggies and cream cheese into long strips. Keep the cream cheese chilled and you’ll be able to cut the brick into slices and then into sticks. Pop all the prepped ingredients in the fridge until your rice is cooled to room temperature and your crew is ready to assemble.
And now for rolling:
We don’t have enough bamboo rollers for everyone so I give each person a sheet of aluminum foil instead. It keeps the counters a little cleaner and is still flexible for getting your roll started. It’s also a good idea to have a bowl of water that everyone can reach to dip their fingers in. Damp hands keep rice from sticking to you when you’re pressing it onto the nori sheet.
OK. When it’s go time, lay your nori sheet on your tin foil with the rough side up. Using your dampened hands, press a thin layer of the sticky rice onto the nori, covering all but a strip down one of the longer edges (see below).
Then lay your veggies, shrimp, and/or cream cheese along the edge that isn’t bare… and roll! Try to keep it as tight as you can, like rolling up a sleeping bag so it’ll fit back in it’s carrying sleeve.
Wet the bare edge of the nori so that when you finish the roll it sticks to itself and creates a seal. Using a really sharp knife, serrated if you have one, slice the roll into pieces.
We love to serve ours with tiny bowls of soy sauce spiked with wasabi. Here are a few photos of our latest sushi party…
If you make your own rolls, leave a comment with your photo below or on Facebook and make sure to tag me in it. My family would love to see how yours turn out!