How Sushi Works

Making Sushi: Nigiri-zushi and Temaki

These photos and instructions will show you how to create some of the more common varieties of sushi. Keep in mind that we aren't sushi experts -- we were learning how to do it too. For toppings, we used thinly sliced carrots, avocado, and cucumber.

Toppings need to be sliced so they'll fit into or on top of the sushi. The slicing is an art form all by itself. Toppings can be diced, minced, shaved, slivered, or cut into matchsticks. Here we have carrot slivers and long cucumber slices.

Finger sushi, or nigiri-zushi, is made by forming a small morsel of rice into an oblong shape. Dip your fingers into vinegar water first, then shape the rice in the palm of your hand. Don't squeeze the rice together too hard, just enough to make them stick together.

Use your thumb to make a small indentation on one side of the sushi. This side will be the bottom, so the piece of sushi should curve upward slightly in the middle when you set it down.

It's easiest to make several pieces of nigiri-zushi first, and then add the toppings. You can simply put the toppings on, or add a streak of wasabi first. These are the first pieces of sushi we made. They're not perfect, but they tasted good. It will take some practice before your sushi looks as good as it tastes. A strip of nori could also be wrapped around each sushi piece, but if you serve sushi with nori, it should be served immediately, while the nori is still crisp.

Now we will make a hand roll, or temaki. This is a cone of nori with the rice and toppings inside. Start with half a piece of nori. Temaki are easiest to make holding the nori in your hand. Spread rice onto one end of the nori, covering about a third of it. Place your toppings diagonally across the rice.

Fold the bottom corner up and over the toppings, then start rolling the nori in the same direction. When you finish rolling, you should have a cone-shaped piece of sushi. The moisture in the rice will help the nori stick together.

We'll look at how to make rolled sushi, or makizushi, next.