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What do you do if you want to save money but you don’t want to get rid of your take-out lifestyle?

Learn to make your own sushi.

One of the biggest take-out items I missed when I moved to the woods and left unnecessary spending behind was takeout. When I lived in the city and spent on impulse, the world was my takeout menu.

Now, I do takeout at home.

Takeout and delivery pretty much don’t exist in my rural area except for the pizza guy who’ll deliver anywhere in the village as a favor.  This is actually a good thing. If I want my old favorites, I have to make them myself. This saves money and frees the landfill from all the packaging takeout requires.

One of the things I missed most in the world of take out was sushi.

With a little bit of study and a few simple tools, you can make sushi right in your own kitchen. It seems complex at first, but it’s simple after the first few tries. You may not be a Japanese sushi master like Chef Jiro in this popular documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” but you’ll be happy with your sushi and it won’t fall apart.

Keep in mind that sushi is not a food name, it’s a method of cooking–basically, rolling up all the stuff in nori–dried seaweed. This made it easy for the samurai to pack up for lunch before battle. Sushi is a real art–there are simple rolls, inside-out rolls, rice-ball type creations, and a million ways to do this. You can really get caught up in trying to up your game.

I’m pretty simple when it comes to sushi. I want it to taste good and look presentable. It doesn’t have to be a work of art–I’m just going to eat it.

Before we get started

Sushi safety:

Do not use any old raw fish for sushi if you intend to use fish. You need to know your stuff. Since sushi is raw, you must get the best quality available, handled by trusted experts.

You need to go to a real fishmonger and ask for “sushi-grade” fish. The last thing you want to do when you save twenty bucks on takeout is spend it on a copay at the ER when you get food poisoning.

Luckily, I’m a vegetarian. There is no such thing as sushi-grade vegetables. Just pick out some good ones like cucumbers, avocado, carrots, cut them up in matchsticks or thin strips, and get to work.

Tools you will need:

  • a rice cooker or pot to cook your rice in
  • a sushi mat. This one comes with a rice paddle that will help you cool the rice and not scratch your cookware. *

Must-have ingredients:

  • sushi vinegar
  • nori
  • sushi rice
  • something to put in the sushi (fish or matchstick veggies)

Optional but cool:

  • gari (pickled ginger). You can make this yourself. I’ll do a demo on this and edit this post, but for now, you can buy this at the store.
  • chopsticks. You know you want to look authentic when you eat your sushi. Here’s a classy set. Here’s some affordable, reusable ones. *

Preparation:

  1. sushi-2Cook your rice.  I use a 1:1.25 ratio of rice to water. Before I start cooking, I rinse the rice in cold water until the water is clear.  Usually, I cook up a cup of rice for a two-person meal. I have a rice cooker which makes rice a no-brainer. If you have a stovetop pot, cover it and keep watch. It should be done in about 15-20 minutes. Turn off the flame and keep the lid on about five minutes  for the steam to absorb.
  2. After cooking, add 3T seasoned rice wine vinegar. If you have non-seasoned rice vinegar, then warm it up in a pan with 1/2 T sugar and 1/2 tsp salt, then add to your rice)
  3. Cool the rice. Put your cooked and seasoned rice in a large bowl with a lot of surface area. If you were a sushi master, you’d fan it until it was cool. That, I think, falls under #aintnobodygottimeforthat so I put saran wrap on my bowl and refrigerate while I cut up my veggies.  Please know that this is sushi heresy and if any Japanese master reads this, they’ll either have a major coronary or write it off to “uninformed Americans.”
  4. Cut up your veggies and get the nori sheets ready. You’ll want everything laid out and ready to go.

Assembly:

  1. Put your sheet of nori, shiny-side down, on your sushi mat so the long side of the rectangle is toward you.
  2. Put rice very thin on the first 2/3 of the nori roll only. Mash it down–use maybe 1/4 cup of rice or less for each roll. If you use too much, it’ll be this big, fat thing–good luck eating.
  3. After you spread the thinnest layer of rice on the roll, put a think line of veggies, such as matchsticked carrots and cucumbers with avocado. Your fish would go here, too if you were using sushi-grade fish.
  4. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on the roll.
  5. Turn the sushi so the roll rice side is toward you and roll. When you get to the un-riced side, wet this with a little water, and finish it off to seal.
  6. Cut the roll into 8 circles.
  7. Eat your sushi.

* I linked to some affordable sushi gear you might like. You can find these things in the Asian store, but if you don’t have an Asian store, Amazon’s awesome. BrokeTeacher is not an Amazon affiliate because this state regulates such things. These are budget-friendly recommendations to get you started.