You don’t have to be Jiro to dream of sushi. Simple maki are relatively easy to get right—though the correct knife, at the right degree of sharpness, and impeccable fish are non-negotiable. Here are 8 recipes to get started with, including one for ahi poke that’s a good warmup, and sushi rice.
1. Spicy Tuna Maki
One of the defining rolls at the neighborhood sushi bar. If you’ve never rolled maki before, just remember not to overfill. And if you like things extra spicy, add more Sriracha or chili oil to this recipe. Get our Spicy Tuna Maki recipe.
2. Salmon-Avocado Maki
It’s tempting to load these up with the good stuff (salmon and avocado are fantastic together; on their own, too, for that matter), but resist! The rolls will be more difficult to seal, and they’ll burst when you go to cut them. Get our Salmon-Avocado Maki recipe.
3. Inside-Out vegetable Maki
Inside-out sushi rolls looks complicated, but it’s really just a matter of flipping when you’re halfway through the process. This recipe calls for a simple vegetarian filling, but feel free to experiment with whatever ingredients you like. Get our Inside-Out vegetable Maki recipe.
4. Tuna and Cucumber Rolls
In Japan, says Japanese Cooking 101, “the two most popular hosomaki [“thin” maki] are tekkamaki, tuna roll, and kappamaki, cucumber rolls…. Tekkamaki uses raw tuna which has a pretty red color against white rice. The name tekka, hot iron, is said to come from this color.” Get Japanese Cooking 101’s Tuna and Cucumber Rolls recipe.
5. Sushi Napoleon
“This stratified sushi works with most anything,” notes nofaceplate: “roasted veggies, greens, whole cloves of roasted garlic, cream cheese, fresh stuffs like cukes, blanched asparagus, avocado. Remember to keep your toughest veggies at the bottom, however, so the slicing of the rest of the layers doesn’t flatten your avocado/soft fillings.” Get nofaceplate’s Sushi Napoleon recipe.
6. Sashimi with Soy, Sesame Seeds, and Chives
Sashimi is all about the fish; with so few ingredients it’s imperative to buy the best you can find. Buy your fish from a reputable source, and let your fishmonger know that you will be serving it raw so he or she gives you a top-quality piece. Get our recipe for Sashimi with Soy, Sesame Seeds, and Chives.
7. Ahi Tuna Poke
More a Polynesian favorite than strict sushi, ahi tuna poke makes a great starter. To keep the poke cold, chill the serving dish ahead of time and nestle it in a larger bowl filled with ice. Get our Ahi Tuna Poke recipe.
8. Sushi Rice
Perfect sushi rice takes a time or two to get right, but the learning curve is essential. No sushi you attempt—no matter how good the other ingredients, or how well you cut them—will be good if you don’t first nail the rice. Get our Sushi Rice recipe.