This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Soy Vay. All opinions are 100% mine.
Say the words “sushi” and I’m there. There’s a lot to love about sushi and it’s the perfect food for a fun gathering of friends… if you know how to serve it.
You could go as far as to have guests make their own sushi rolls. In this day and age, heading to the closest Japanese market for perfect pre-made sushi is perfectly acceptable, too. You’ll just need to know what to buy and select a handful of other foods and dipping sauces that compliment sushi for a little variety.
This is what we did a few days ago. I decided to save time by doing a combination of roll-your-own and pre-made.
How to Make Your Own Sushi Rolls
The rice is everything. If you can perfect Japanese sushi rice, which does take some skill and know-how, why not let your guests roll their own?
Extra bamboo sushi rollers cost a few dollars. You’ll also need a very sharp knife to cut the rolls. Without sharp knives, you’ll fail (trust me). The rest of the gear, you probably already have in the kitchen.
Buy good Japanese rice. Then, wash and drain it. This is a good recipe for sushi rice. You can buy small packs of pre-made sushi rice that work well for just a few rolls here and there. Prepare some combination of:
- Vegetables like thinly sliced cucumber, thinly sliced red and yellow bell pepper, shredded carrots, sliced avocado, sprouts, cooked asparagus (thin), and cooked shiitake mushrooms.
- Seafood including sashimi grade ahi, salmon, tako (octopus), yellowtail, crab (you don’t have to use artificial crab) and fish roe.
If you like prepared crab, as is common in California rolls, all you need to do is add a little mayonnaise and soy sauce to taste. I personally think fresh crab is best on its own. Drained canned crab is perfectly fine.
Let’s take a moment to talk about nori (seaweed). It actually has two sides. The shiny side should face outward. Rice should be applied to the rougher side because it will stick to the nori better. Set up a rolling station with prepared ingredients at the ready.
Have a few small bowls of water ready. Rice tends not to stick to wet fingers. Let the guests try their handy work.
Buy Sushi Rolls Instead
If there’s a Japanese market nearby, it’s totally fine to save time and clean-up by buying an assortment of sushi the rolls. By calling ahead, our local market can assemble a platter for pick up with rolls and nigiri that I choose. It’s actually cheaper than buying individual packages.
Foods to Buy that Compliment Sushi
You have sushi, now what else? Soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger are must-haves, but there are quite a few other foods that compliment a sushi spread.
Gyoza: Find it in the frozen section. Zap it in the microwave or fry it. They need a dipping sauce like Soy Vay Hoisin Garlic Marinade or this amazing Soy Vay Spicy ‘N Sweet Chili marinade/dipping sauce I picked up the other day.
Edamame: Steam it (edamame is never as good cooked in the microwave) with a few flakes of sea salt.
Yakitori or teriyaki chicken: Small skewered bites of chicken work as easy side dishes.
Japanese salad: I adore Japanese salads because it’s mostly about the dressing. They’re typically very simple with predominantly iceberg lettuce, maybe with a few sliced radishes, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots and sliced spring onions. Soy Vay makes a great miso dressing that is among my favorites.
Mochi ice cream balls: These are easy to find in a frozen section and a perfect dessert. Japanese grocery stores also stock green tea or red bean ice cream, also delicious.
Japanese Dining Etiquette
Just for fun, keep these little tidbits handy for Japanese food meals and your next Japan vacation. As you might imagine, proper use of chopsticks is incredibly important.
- Do not leave chopsticks standing upright in a bowl of rice. This symbolizes death.
- Do not rub wooden chopsticks together. This is only necessary with really, really poor quality chopsticks in order to get rid of splinters. Doing so with good quality wooden chopsticks is considered offensive to the host.
- Do not pass food with chopsticks. This harkens back to an age-old tradition of passing bones at funerals.
- The ends of the chopsticks that you eat with should never touch the table. Use provided chopstick stands. Or, neatly create a stand with the paper wrapper from wooden chopsticks.
- Don’t point with chopsticks.
- Don’t cross them like an “X”.
- Use the bare minimum of soy sauce. It’s considered wasteful and rude to leave any leftover in the bowl.
- If green tea or any communal beverage is being served, never pour for yourself first.