Asian and Mexican fusion dishes are more popular than you might think—take sushi pizza, which was invented in Canada. Although Asian-Mexican fusion dishes like sushiritto—a sushi burrito—and kimchi quesadillas have become popular, they don’t rival Sushi tacos. So how do you make them at home?
To make sushi tacos at home, you can choose to use taco shells or create your shells using nori or wonton sheets. They can be fried in a tempura batter, or you can make messy tacos. However, you must use sushi rice; otherwise, you are merely making tacos. Making sushi tacos at home is not difficult.
For people who think Asian fusion is a recent foodie trend, it has been around since the 60s. Sushi and Tacos might not seem like an obvious pairing, but they have more in common than people think.
What Do Tacos and Sushi Have in Common?
Tacos are street food, with taco trucks, the modern equivalent of taqueros who rode bicycles, taking along baskets full of tacos. But what Americans think of as tacos are not what is sold in most of Mexico. Instead, most Mexican tacos are made with two thin, flat corn tacos with fillings in-between—sort of like a sandwich.
Something similar happened in the history of sushi. What we now picture when we hear sushi is not what it originally looked like. Although sushi history is long, modern sushi began in the 1820s when Hanaya Yohei opened a sushi stand near a well-traveled bridge. He served what we call Nigiri.
A century later, hundreds of stands were selling sushi as street food for pedestrians and workers. Sushi might still be served that way had a significant earthquake not struck Tokyo, lowering land prices enough that the vendors could afford to open restaurants.
So both tacos and sushi started as to-go food sold by street vendors. So fusing sushi and tacos is not as far-fetched as it seems.
The Key Ingredient Is Rice
Rice is a crucial ingredient to both Mexican and Japanese cuisines. However, the type of rice and preparation are different. In Mexico, most rice is short-grained, although long-grained rice is sometimes used as well. However, only with Arroz Blanco or Arroz Rojo would you want sticky rice.
To make sushi, on the other hand, you should use short-grain Japonica.
Preparation methods are also different. Many Mexican recipes call for the rice to be browned before liquids are added, while sushi rice needs to be thoroughly rinsed before being cooked.
To make a sushi taco, you need to make sushi rice. Anything else is just a taco.
You have more choices for the shells than you might think. None of them are difficult to make at home. If you have a pan or pot for heating oil, you’re set.
The easiest method is to use taco shells. Warm shells are always better, but if your shells close while you try to heat them, here are several hacks to try:
- Before putting them into a warm oven, stand them upside down on a sheet. When taking them out, slide a chopstick in to lift them and use a TacoProper Holder to grab them by the base before flipping the shells.
- Instead of completely separating the shells, slide them apart enough that each taco will hold up the taco outside it. For the front taco, ball up a piece of aluminum foil to the size of a small potato to keep it open.
- If you heat shells frequently, you might want to buy 6-Shell Taco Racks. This professional-grade rack has a non-stick coating.
To get a more authentic taste, a seaweed shell is a way to go. But how does one firm the nori?
You can use one of several methods. Several involve making a batter and frying them. A standard batter is tempura. Use your own recipe for the batter, or try this one:
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 to 1 cup of icy water
- Sift the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder, and then add the salt.
- Add water slowly, mixing gently. The batter should not be over-mixed. Keep adding water and mixing until you have a goopy batter that is still spreadable.
- If you have not started heating your oil yet, do so now. You will know it’s hot enough when a few dough browns quickly.
- Next, decide how you want to cut the nori—a complete circle or only cutting semi-circles on top and bottom of the seaweed sheet—think bulging rectangle.
- Spread your batter on the nori, but only one side. They will fry more quickly and be less greasy.
- Use heat-safe chopsticks to put the coated seaweed into the hot oil. It should take no more than a minute to fry.
- When the batter is golden, use tongs or chopsticks to lift out the nori. You should shape your shell now before it becomes dry. A metal taco shell holder will come in handy, so they keep their shape until they are dry and have cooled down.
Your seaweed tacos are now ready to be filled with toppings.
Fried wonton sheets make for an interesting twist and take this recipe closer to the Japanese side of sushi. You won’t have to make a batter either.
- However, you will need to create a form. To do that, you need a taco shell and some aluminum foil. You will also need nori sheets. And a pot of oil heated to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.67 degrees Celsius).
- Use an 8- to 10-inch piece of foil to create the mold. Please do this by pushing the foil into the shell and manipulating it until the foil will serve as a good mold.
- If you could not find circular wonton sheets, then trim the ends off to create a taco shape.
- Fold a wrapper over the aluminum form, take a pair of tongs, pick up the wrapper and dip it into the oil. The wonton will be ready in 10-15 seconds so keep an eye on it.
- When it is brown, pull it out, take out the form, and repeat with the next wrapper.
- Before you add your fillings, put a piece of nori inside the taco. This will keep your tempura shell from getting soggy when you add your fillings.
If your goal is to make a quick dish without the fuss of cooking, you can make the sushi taco by simply taking a sheet of nori and trimming it to be in the shape of a taco when you fold it.
- To help it keep its shape, use veggies that you can cut into strips. Avocados are an excellent choice. Not only are they healthy, but a sliced avocado will help the nori keep its shape.
- Add rice and other fillings. Instead of a plate, use a soup bowl so that you can place the folded tacos against each other.
- When you have loaded up your taco with sushi rice and other toppings, dip in your favorite sauce and enjoy it. It won’t be neat, but it will be tasty.
There are so many sushi recipes that your choices of fillings are nearly limitless, as long as you use sushi rice. Many people prefer to make their tacos spicy in homage to Mexican food. Sriracha and spicy mayonnaise are common fillings. Avocados are often used. Don’t be afraid to use smoked fish or to avoid it altogether.
To give you an idea of how creative you can be, this recipe includes a nod to Manchego cheese.
Philly Sushi Tacos
Cream cheese and salmon make a great combination. Why not combine the two for an unusual twist?
Use hard taco shells. Shred a nori sheet to use as a garnish.
- 4 ounces smoked salmon
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 large avocado
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon wasabi
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Mix the soy sauce, wasabi, and lemon juice in a bowl.
- Stir in the cream cheese.
- Dice the avocado, cut salmon into bite-sized pieces, and add to the bowl.
- Mix the ingredients.
- To assemble, put a rice layer in the taco, top it with the filling, and garnish with the shredded nori.
Sushi Tacos for Taco Tuesdays or any other day (why limit yourself) can be as easy as using a hard-shell taco to fry a nori sheet in tempura. Don’t be afraid of this fusion dish as tacos and sushi have more in common than most people realize.
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.
- PBS: The History Kitchen—Discover the History of Sushi
- Dinner then Dessert: Crispy California Roll Tacos
- Celine Eats: Sushi Tacos/ Tempura Frying Nori
- Food: Philadelphia Sushi Tacos
- Couples Eat Food: Sushi Tacos with Crispy Fried Seaweed Shells