Making Sushi 101: How to Become an Expert in No Time

Juliet D'cruz

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Fish are flying off the shelves. The average American ate more than 22 kilograms of fish in 2017. That’s nearly 50 pounds of fish in one year. 

One reason why fish are becoming so popular is sushi. Americans are going to a number of restaurants and spending hundreds of dollars on dishes. But you can start making sushi at home. 

What sorts of fish and rice should you get for your dishes? What are some Japanese dishes you can make? What are some American dishes that you can serve to friends? 

Answer these questions and you can bring the flavors of Japan into your home. Here is your quick guide. 

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Fish Cuts

There are many cuts of fish that can go into sushi. The back strips come from the loin of a particular fish. It provides rectangular and symmetrical pieces of fish that work for most recipes. 

The belly cuts come from the belly. They are smaller and less symmetrical, but they have a high level of fat. This makes the fish taste like cream, and it can have an effect akin to melting in the mouth. 

Tuna has many of its own cuts. Otoro tuna refers to a belly cut of tuna. It is extremely fatty with a strong umami flavor. 

Chutoro is another belly cut. It is very high-quality with a lot of fat, but it has a tender texture and a rich flavor.  

Whatever cut of fish you get, you then need to know how to cut your fish. Cut your fillet into horizontal layers that you can then divide into planks. 


Japanese cuisine relies on a particular type of rice. Most dishes use short-grain rice with hefty seasonings of sugar, vinegar, and salt. 

You may find “sushi rice” at your local store. This is glutinous white rice that can absorb water and vegetable oil. Most packages contain instructions on them, and you should follow them to prepare the rice properly. 

“Sticky rice” is another label for sushi rice. But it may contain ingredients like sugar and mango to create a dessert. Look for sticky rice recipes designed for sushi instead of other dishes. 

Brown rice is not traditionally used in sushi dishes. But you can add it into any recipe of your choice, provided that you keep the rice soft. Cook your rice with vinegar to make it soft and sweet. 

Sides and Toppings

Wasabi is a Japanese horseradish paste. It accompanies sushi, but it does not go inside of sushi. You can buy wasabi from any Japanese grocery store, or you can mix together wasabi powder and water to make it. 

Soy sauce is a salty sauce. You can dip your sushi into it, though you should be careful not to overpower the flavors of your fish. You can buy a bottle of soy sauce from most grocery stores. 

Pickled ginger is a palette cleanser that you can eat between pieces of sushi. You can buy a bottle at a grocery store. Though you can make it yourself, it can take a very long period of time to get it right. 

A traditional Japanese topping for sushi is fish eggs. It is not caviar, but a kind of fish eggs called roe. It is not common in American restaurants, and you can get its flavors through soy sauce. 

Japanese Sushi Styles 

Sashimi is the simplest style of sushi. It is raw fish in rectangular slices served on top of white rice. If you are looking for a very easy recipe, you should make sashimi. 

Nigiri is sashimi on a smaller scale. It is small pieces of raw fish served on top of rice balls. You can then tip them into soy sauce or wasabi. 

If you want more flavors besides fish, chirashi is a bowl of rice with fish and garnishes on top. You can include seaweed, sesame seeds, and other ingredients. 

When you want to work a little bit harder, you can make maki rolls. Put a piece of seaweed on a bamboo mat. Then place some rice, fish, and vegetables down the center of the seaweed. 

Put your fingers underneath the mat and lift the edge. Curve your fingers over the mat and press along the length of your rice.

Then pull the edge of the bamboo while folding it toward you. You should then continue to roll the sushi away until you have reached the other end of the sheet. 

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American Sushi Dishes

Americans like rolls more than any other kind of sushi. This means that most American sushi dishes are in roll form, with different ingredients inside of them. 

A California roll has a rice layer on the outside with seaweed on the inside. You can make it the way you make maki. The roll contains imitation crab, cucumber strips, and avocado. 

Tempura rolls also have rice on the outside. They contain tempura fried shrimp, which is deep-fried shrimp with a special batter. They can hold any number of vegetables, including cucumber. 

If you prefer your seaweed on the outside, you can make a spicy tuna roll. The roll has raw tuna mixed with spicy mayonnaise. It compliments wasabi very well. 

How to Start Making Sushi

Making sushi involves knowing a few facts. You need to get a good cut of sushi, ideally otoro tuna. Cut it into thin layers and then cut it into blocks. 

White sushi rice is your go-to rice for all dishes. You can use soy sauce and wasabi as toppings for any rolls you make. 

Traditional Japanese dishes include sashimi and nigiri. Learn how to use a bamboo mat to make rolls. Once you do, you can prepare many Americanized dishes. 

Sushi is one part of Japanese cuisine. Learn some more by following our coverage.