Tuna is a bite-sized meal of vinegared rice and seafood. This Japanese delight has wasabi, soy sauce, and ginger pickle relish for added flavor. Making sushi looks intimidating, but you do not have to be a sushi chef to make great sushi tuna rolls at home.
To make a sushi tuna roll, first cook your savory sticky sushi rice just right. Use sashimi-grade tuna, roll your sushi tuna roll like a master sushi chef, then cut out the rolls into small sizes. The more you practice the basics, the better you’ll get at preparing this 2nd century BC old food.
Read on to learn more about making the most delectable of sushi tuna rolls. This article delves deep into making sushi, rice, and vinegar. It will give you tips on choosing the highest quality of sushi-grade tuna and how to roll the perfect sushi tuna rolls.
The Origins of Sushi
There are a few menus as intimidating as sushi bars’ are. The desire for spicy seafood, sticky rice, and crunchy veggies jam-packed with tons of umami flavors, however, keeps most sushi lovers going back for more.
The origins of sushi are the subject of many folklores. The oldest mention of the rice fermentation process first appears in fourth-century Chinese literature. The dictionary notes using fermented rice to preserve seafood in the Southeast Asia regions where sushi originated from.
In fermentation, rice produces bacteria that, alongside salt, can slow down the decay in fish. This process is the reason the Japanese refer to a sushi kitchen as a tsuke-ba or pickling place.
Sushi spread through old Japan in the past because of Buddhism. In the absence of meat in their diet, the Japanese turned to seafood as their major source of animal protein. There was no better way to enjoy their fermented rice and seafood combo together than through sushi.
Over the centuries, sushi has undergone an evolution, meeting new preparation styles and ingredients. Its serving methods have also gone through various amendments. Today you can have spicy mayo, cream cheese, or deep-fried rolls that the connoisseurs love to hate.
You can also have that comforting sushi tuna roll at home.
How to Make Sushi Rolls at Home
Since the art of sushi is progressive, modern chefs keep introducing novel ingredients every other day. In your search for some spicy tuna roll, you will get calorie-laden spicy mayo laden types that are delicious and affordable but not as healthy as traditional sushi fare.
The poor man’s tuna roll is perfect for that late-night binge-watching hunger. That said, you can have super fresh sushi tuna rolls complete with nori (seaweed) sheets and sashimi-grade salmon or tuna made in your kitchen.
What Is a Spicy Tuna Roll Made Of?
The art of making sushi is highly artistic and needs a high level of skills, as evidenced by various Japanese cuisine shows. That said, at its most basic form, sushi is simply a raw or cooked fish dish that could have vegetables and rice.
In its most pure form, sushi has vinegared rice, wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce for its “sour” or “sushi” flavor notes. Spicy tuna rolls originate from the myriad of Japanese-style restaurants in the US. Like most traditional Japanese rolls, the sushi roll has nori, steamed rice flavored with sushi vinegar and sashimi-grade tuna.
You can also add scallions/green onions or sesame seeds if you love the extra Asian kitchen flavor. The Vietnamese and Thai people use Sriracha sauce to add spicy to the ordinary sushi tuna roll. This condiment alongside toasted sesame oil and soy sauce will make the perfect spicy tuna roll.
How to Make the Perfect Spicy Tuna Roll
Making the perfect spicy tuna roll is all about using the right ingredients and following the recommended steps. It’s also a matter of practicing to perfect one’s skills.
So, to produce that perfect spicy tuna roll, you need to:
- Use the correct rice: short-grain sushi rice
- Use sashimi-grade tuna
- Use the right method to roll your sushi
Let’s get into more details on each of these points.
Use Great Sushi Rice
One great secret of the perfect sushi roll is perfectly made sushi rice. Your run off the mill store-bought rolls falls flat on their faces because they have their rice texture all wrong. They also smash their rice. The best sushi rice stays fluffy in a tight sushi roll.
Seasoned vinegar sushi rice or sumeshi in Japanese is a crucial component of most sushi dishes. It is difficult to make a sushi roll without sumeshi. In the absence of vinegared rice, the fresh uncooked seafood or tuna makes a different dish; the sashimi.
If you can make great sushi rice at home, then you do not have any good reason to purchase the not-so-good store type of sushi rolls. Make perfect savory sticky rice at home, and you are on your way to sushi tuna rolls mastery.
If you have watched the Japanese masters making sticky rice on TV, you might have had the impression that it is a precisionist and complex process. It is not. It is as easy as making ordinary rice but with the flavor of rice vinegar and a little Japanese rice making twist.
Sushi rice is very easy to make. You will only use four ingredients, and the process will take about 35 minutes of your time. Below are the ingredients for sushi rice that serves six:
- 3 sushi rice cups
- 3 cups of water
- A teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cups rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Place the rice in a bowl and cover it with cold water. Swirl it and drain the water. Repeat this process five times or until your water is clear. Use a strainer or colander to drain the rice.
- Place your clean rice and the three cups of water into your rice cooker. Cover then cook. If you are going to use a saucepan in the place of a rice cooker, cook the rice over medium-high heat.
- When the rice has boiled, turn down the heat and let it simmer for15 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the rice to cool.
- As the rice cooks, combine your Japanese rice vinegar, salt, and sugar into a small saucepan. Heat the mixture, taking care not to boil it. When the sugar has dissolved, take the mixture away from the heat and leave it to cool at room temperature.
- Take your cool rice, spread it on your wooden, glass, or ceramic bowl, and then spread the vinegar mixture evenly over it. Use a wooden spatula or rice paddle to turn the rice gently. Allow the rice to cool down completely before rolling it.
Pro tip: Fan your rice to hasten the cooling process. This approach will gelatinize the surface of the sticky rice and give it a glossy shine.
To cool the rice even faster, you can put on the A/C or place the rice somewhere near an open window. The only thing to avoid is refrigerating the sushi rice.
Here are more tips for making sushi rice:
Use Short-Grain Rice
Most beginner sushi tuna roll makers head straight for long-grain regular rice when making their first batch of sumeshi. They do not know that there’s unique short-grain rice perfect for sushi. The perfect sticky rice for sushi has to be the short-grain white Japanese variety. In its absence, use the Californian, medium-grain rice. These rice varieties will probably have the words ‘sushi rice’ on their labels.
Wash Your Grains of Rice Thoroughly
Wash your grains of rice well to do away with the starchy powder that coats them. If you cook the rice with the powder on it, the starch will not allow your rice to absorb the sushi-su or sushinomoto. Sushi-su or sushi vinegar is sweet and mild, and it is from its words that sushi derives its name.
The best sushi vinegar has both salt and sugar in varying quantities in it and is of prime quality. For the perfect sticky rice flavor, place your rice in a bowl of cold water, swish it around using your hand, and then drain it. Use a strainer to catch all the rice. Re-rinse the rice a few more times till your rinsing water is clear.
Cook Your Rice Properly
A rice cooker would be a nifty investment for any sushi enthusiast. Use it to ward off any timing mistakes. This neat kitchen gadget will keep your rice warm for hours on end and will make the perfect savory sushi rice.
Have a Sushi Oke Around
One other item a sushi chef should have is a sushi oke or hangiri. The sushi oke or rice bowl is a wooden tub with a round flat bottom. The Japanese use it to prepare sushi rice. After the cooking is complete, the sushi chefs will transfer the rice to the sushi oke to cool and dress it.
On the cypress wooden tub, they will toss the rice in sushi vinegar, then cover it with a cloth and leave it to cool. If you do not have an unvarnished wooden bowl for this process, go for a ceramic or shallow glass bowl. Avoid aluminum bowls since they might impart a metallic taste to your rice. They also keep heat differently from wood, making less than perfect sticky rice.
Let the Rice Cool
Give your sushi rice enough cooling time at room temperature. Cover the rice with a plastic wrap or moist cloth for a minimum of 12 hours. You need not refrigerate or to freeze your rice. Doing so will alter its texture.
Use Sashimi-Grade Tuna
Eating raw fish can be unnerving. Even more nerve-wracking is the first time experience of buying fish that you will eat raw. Sashimi or sushi-grade fish can be a tad difficult to buy locally as per your region. Thankfully, you can order your sashimi grade tuna from a local Japanese grocery store.
Alternatively, order it online from well-reviewed suppliers. Sashimi grade seafood can be expensive. It has to be safe for ingestion, so fish like salmon that are parasitic have to undergo flash-freezing after fishing to kill any parasites. This process preserves the texture and freshness of the raw fish.
Sushi grade fish is, therefore, of prime quality and is safe when eaten raw. To ensure safety, always buy your sushi-grade fish from reputable sellers. If you have any doubts, ask the sellers and use your sense of smell and touch as well to pick the freshest catch.
Your fish should only smell of its home, the ocean. It should not be flaky or soft. Its color should be vibrant for appeal. Do not store it for too long when at home since it is highly perishable.
Use the Right Method to Roll Your Sushi
This bit is also as important as the cooking, the flavoring, and the quality of your tuna. Should you roll your sushi using the wrong technique, it will fall apart. Sushi masters such as Nobuyuki Matsuhisa warn that rolling sushi might look easy, but it is not. So, prepare to fail at the rolling process the first time around.
You will make a bit of a mess, but that is the only way to learn. The Japanese chef and the brain behind the successful Nobu brand of hotels and restaurants say that the second or third try will be easier if you keep at it.
The fluid sushi rolling motion that chefs display in sushi bar counters is borne out of years of experience. Their rice does not end up on the floor when they roll it because some of them spend a decade perfecting the art of sushi.
To help you out, the successful sushi chef says that besides rinsing your rice five times and choosing the best fish, roll the right amount of rice. He advocates for five scoops of rice for each crispy seaweed or nori sheet. A few tips to get you through the sushi-rolling phase include:
- Always leave enough space on both of your sheets when placing your sticky rice
- Make a two-part roll. Whirl the roll halfway, reopen it, then roll the sheet’s other side. The double roll will make the perfect sushi shape and will ensure that the yummy bite-sized food sticks together.
- Use slightly wet hands when rolling. Do not make them too wet, that they drip with water and spoil your nori’s delectable crunch.
- Use vinegared water made of equal parts of rice vinegar and water to moisten your hands. The wet hands will keep the rice from sticking to them. It will also clean out the odor of fish from your hands, keeping the rice pristine.
Tuna Sushi Roll Recipe
- Ready sushi rice
- 4 half cut sheets of dried seaweed or nori
- 4 ounces (113g) of sushi-grade tuna
- Slit your nori in half.
- Take your bamboo sushi mat and place it on a work surface. Place your bamboo in a position that allows you to roll it away from you. Left to right slant in position is perfect.
- Place a seaweed sheet atop the mat. Ensure that the nori’s long edge is near you.
- Place five scoops of vinegared sushi rice on the nori sheet.
- Place your tuna atop the rice in a horizontal position.
- Roll the mat, pressing it forward to form a cylindrical shape.
- Make the roll moderately tight by pressing the mat, pulling it firmly.
- Roll open the mat and take your ready sushi roll out.
- Repeat the process above for all sushi rolls.
- Wipe a clean knife with a wet cloth, then slice your sushi into bite-size pieces.
- Serve alongside wasabi and soy sauce.
- For a little more pizazz, make a spicy tuna sushi roll. This sushi roll has raw or cooked tuna mixed with a tablespoon of mayo, a teaspoon of wasabi paste, and chili powder in the place of plain tuna.
- Sushi rice vinegar already has soy sauce and salt in it. Your sushi is, therefore, quite high in sodium. For the soy sauce side, add only a dash of soy sauce. The best tasting sushi is simple in flavor.
- Wasabi goes down well with most types of sushi. It will add a zesty spiciness to your tuna sushi roll and kill any leftover bacteria in your raw fish. This condiment is critical to your sushi roll process. Mixing wasabi in soy sauce is not a great idea. Simply scoop a wee bit of it and slather it on the rice layer.
- To keep your rice from falling apart, dip your sushi into the soy sauce, fish down.
- Use pickled ginger or gari as a palate cleanser in between bites.
- You can use your fingers to eat your sushi if you are not comfortable with chopsticks.
Cooking your sushi rice at home and rolling it into the perfect cylindrical shape is not easy, but is worth the pleasure it brings. To make your sushi tuna roll making process easier, cook your rice correctly. Use the best sushi-grade tuna in the market and learn how to roll your sushi through practice.
Here are some of my favorite sushi making tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you find it useful as you make sushi at home. Here are some tools I’ve used that I hope you’ll find helpful, too. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, I will earn a commission. But honestly, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my family.
Rice cooker: For getting started, I really like Zojirushi Rice Cooker. The Zojirushi Rice cooker does not only make rice-cooking dirt simple, but it is a quality gadget that cooks better than most chefs can. Unlike most kitchen gadgets, it does not sacrifice quality for convenience.
Knife:The Kai Knife is one of the best sushi knives in the market. Made in Japan’s famous knife-making capital, Seki city.
- Minimalist Baker: How to Make Sushi Without a Mat
- PBS: Discover the History of Sushi
- Waiter: Just Say No to Spicy Tuna Rolls: 6 Tips for a Healthy Office Lunch, Sushi-Style
- Tablespoon: What Is Sushi?
- Lafujimama: Sushi Rice, the Secret Behind Delicious Sushi
- Tokyokan: SUSHI INGREDIENTS
- Wikipedia: Hangiri
- Fda: Selecting and Serving Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safely
- Food and Wine: The Right Way to Roll Sushi, According to Chef Nobu
- CNBC: Nobu: Is expensive sushi worth the money