As linden_tree pointed out, making sushi isn't very difficult. Refining it from "good" to "really really good" is the hard part!
Here are the basic steps to follow:
1) Prepare all of your non-rice related ingredients. For me that usually that includes:
* Cucumber, julienned
* Red pepper, julienned
* Mushrooms, julienned (lightly cooked in sesame oil and shoyu/soy sauce)
* Carrots, julienned (lightly cooked in sesame oil and shoyu)
* Sweet peas (ends cut off, lightly blanched)
* Pineapple, cut into small chunks
* Avocado, halved and sliced
* Spicy "mayo"
* Steamed tempeh
* Pickled daikon
* Wasabi paste
* Pickled ginger
2) Prepare your rice. This can actually be done while you prepare your other ingredients as even after you season it it is good for it to sit for a little bit before you use it.
3) Put it all together!
It is very important to use a good quality Japonica rice. This is usually billed specifically as "sushi rice". Most of this type of rice is produced in California, so don't be put off by that. I tend to buy Kokuho Rose, but other brands work in a pinch. This recipe makes a bit of a sweeter rice, and is from the Osaka region of Japan.
* 2 cups of dry sushi rice
* 2 1/2 cups of spring or filtered water
* 1 (3-inch) piece of dried kelp (konbu), wiped (optional)
* 1/4 cup of rice vinegar (don't use any other type! It is not at all the same taste)
* 2 Tbsp sugar
* 1 Tbsp mirin
* 1 Tbsp saké
* 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Cook the rice:
- Place washed and drained rice in a large saucepan with the water, add the kelp and soak for 30 minutes.
- Bring the water and rice to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Continue simmering for about 15 minutes until all the water is gone.
- Turn off the heat, and let it stand, covered and undisturbed 10 to 15 minutes, and then transfer the rice to a glass or ceramic bowl.
- Prepare the dressing:
- Place the rice vinegar, sugar, mirin, saké and salt into a small saucepan over low heat
- Stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Cool to room temperature before using.
- Combine them:
- Pour the dressing over the back of a wooden spoon and sprinkle a little bit at a time over the rice, pausing to cut and toss the rice with the wooden spoon as you go.
- It helps quite a bit for the final texture of the rice if it is constantly fanned at the same time that the dressing is being added. If you don't have a partner to fan the rice for you as you go, a small table fan works well, or pausing between adding the dressing to fan the rice works as well.
- Use only as much dressing as the rice will absorb without becoming damp.
- Cover with a damp cloth and set aside until you are ready to use it. Do not refrigerate it, and it should be used the same day that it is made.
This is actually almost too easy to be listed as a "recipe". Basically, you take nayonaise or veganaise and you add chilli oil to taste. While I linked to a recipe, I usually just buy chilli oil at my local grocery store.
I usually mix it at about 1 1/2 Tbsp mayo to 1/4 tsp of chilli oil.
* 4 oz of tempeh
* Spicy mayo
* Steam the tempeh until tender (about 10 minutes)
* Mash with the spicy mayo.
Maki is perhaps the most well known form of sushi in North America, and is the form that lends itself best to veg*an sushi. Assembling it is not difficult, but does take a little bit of practice to get it right.
The basic steps are:
1. Place a sheet of nori on a bamboo rolling mat, and cover all of it except for a 1cm edge at the top with dressed sushi rice. (Tip: Make the rice very thin here. I aim for less than 1/4 cm. Don't be afraid to smooth it out over the nori using your hands, just wet them before handling the rice so that it does not stick to your fingers).
2. Then place your ingredients at the bottom of the roll
3. Roll, with the help of your mat, pressing tightly to make sure that it all stays together. Make sure to roll back your mat as you go so that it does not get rolled into the maki roll!
4. When you get to the end, use your finger or a pastry brush and brush water on the strip of exposed nori, then finish the roll. The water will help seal it all together.
5. Cut the roll. Most rolls are cut into 6 or 8 pieces and usually constitutes on "order". I usually cut the roll down the middle, and then cut each half in half again, and then again, until I have 8 pieces. For hosomaki (small rolls), I usually only make 4 pieces, by cutting the roll in half, and then cutting the halves diagonally to create two "bishops" for each half.
Tip: It really helps to have a very sharp knife. If your knife isn't sharp enough, you can get away with using a finely serrated knife. It also helps a lot to keep the knife wet, and clean. I tend to dip it into a glass of water every few cuts, and if I am cutting through more messy rolls, like the spicy tempeh rolls, then I will actually wipe it down every few cuts.
Some "classic" sushi types
Always feel free to experiment with different ingredients, these are listed below just for ideas. They work well either as makizushi ("maki" for short, they are the classic rolls) or temakizushi (cones/hand rolls). Nigirizushi (a small rectangle of rice with a topping, sometimes held in place with a thin band of nori) is more traditionally made with shrimp, squid and raw fish, I usually use marinated tofu instead.
For all of these you will need: Dressed sushi rice (as per the recipe above), various prepared vegetables and fillings, nori, a large glass of water, a very sharp chef knife or a finely serrated knife, a bamboo rolling mat.
If you are rolling a lot of sushi, cut them all at the end after you have rolled them. If you will not be eating them right away, leave them as rolls and cover them, and then cut them before eating.
Futomaki (large rolls, with the nori on the outside), I usually only make two or three types of futomaki:
* Avocado, carrot, red pepper, cucumber and mushroom
* Cucumber, carrot, red pepper and mushroom
* Cucumber, carrot and pineapple
Hosomaki (smaller rolls, usually with only one ingredient, with the nori on the outside), so that you don't have surplus nori, cut the sheets in half first and only use half sized sheets for these:
Uramaki (larger rolls, usually with 2 or 3 ingredients, with the rice on the outside), this is not as hard as it sounds and looks impressive. Basically, you spread the rice on the nori as usual, and then flip that over so the rice is face down. Then you put your ingredients on the nori, and roll it. When your roll is rolled, I like to press it into black sesame seeds for added visual presentation and a nice nutty flavour. To prevent your rice from making a mess against your rolling mat, cover your mat first in wax paper or plastic wrap:
* "California": Avocado, cucumber and vegan mayo
* "Spicy Tempeh": Spicy tempeh (as per the recipe above), green onion
Sealing a maki roll (yes, that is a giant maki roll. We were getting hungry at that point!)
Cutting futomaki, part 2. After that cut, I would repeat the same cut with the four pieces, for a total of 8 pieces.
Avocado hosomaki with a bishop cut.