Sushi for beginners

October 1, 2012 (Last Updated: January 11, 2019)
Sushi for beginners

Sushi is a great way to entertain at home – it’s fun, healthy, interactive and so easy! Read the Food & Home Guide to sushi for beginners below.

The Food & Home Entertaining’s guide to sushi for beginners

We have put together a few of the basics of sushi making so that you can ‘wow’ your guests with your newly acquired knife skills.

The basics

Rice should be sticky but not overly so; it shouldn’t be too soft or too hard; and it definitely shouldn’t have too much vinegar as this will mask the other flavours. Here are a few basic tips to remember when making sushi rice:

  • Always use sushi rice. The grain is short and slightly starchy, which helps the rice become sticky once cooked.
  • Wash the rice until the water runs clear.
  • Use a wooden bowl when adding vinegar to the rice to avoid any chemical reactions that might occur in metal pots or bowls.
  • Always keep your hands slightly wet while working with cooked sushi rice.

Sushi rice

sushi rice

400g (2 cups) sushi rice
750ml (3 cups) water
80ml rice wine vinegar
30ml (2 tbsp) castor sugar
2,5ml (½ tsp) table salt


  1. Wash the rice in cold water until the water runs clear.
  2. Put the rice and the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until the rice has cooled.
  4. Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a wooden bowl and stir until dissolved.
  5. Spread the rice over the base of a large wooden or plastic dish and drizzle with the vinegar mixture. Stir the rice until cool.

Sushi essentials

sushi for beginners sushi essentials

For a more authentic sushi experience, remember the following:

  1. Pickled ginger adds a sweet element to sushi and looks beautiful too. Pickled radish is a great alternative.
  2. Soy sauce: a light low-sodium soy sauce works best for dipping. Try adding a few flavour elements – 5ml (1 tsp) chopped fresh red chilli and 15ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh coriander are delicious.

Wasabi adds a real kick and a touch of heat to sushi. Traditionally, wasabi is added to the sushi or sashimi rather than the soy sauce dipping bowl. Wasabi is available from local Asian supermarkets in a powdered format for mixing with water or ready-made in tubes.

Quick and easy prawn and wasabi stacks

sushi for beginners quick and easy prawn and wasabi stacks



300g cooked and peeled prawns
2 cups cooked sushi rice
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
30ml (2 tbsp) wasabi paste
soy sauce, to serve
pickled ginger, to serve


  1. Line a large plastic container with plastic wrap. Thinly slice the prawns lengthways. Place a neat thin layer of prawns onto the plastic wrap.
  2. Spoon a layer of rice on top of the prawns. Press down with wet hands to create a flat rice layer.
  3. Repeat with a layer of prawns on top of the rice, followed by a thin layer of cucumber and a final layer of rice. Make sure the rice is in a flat, even layer.
  4. Cover the top of the rice with plastic wrap and weigh it down with bowls. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Remove from the fridge and slice into square stacks. Serve with the wasabi paste, soy sauce and pickled ginger.

More sushi recipes:

Deconstructed sushi 

Tuna sashimi with corn salsa and Peruvian-style green sauce

Chirashizushi (scattered sushi)

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