It may be intimidating, but it's really not that difficult to make sushi rolls at home.  Now that I've gone through the process twice, I have some tips that will save you time and hassle.   It was really fun, and even the kids liked it!  

My best friend decided out of the blue last week that she wanted to learn how to make sushi at home and she asked me if I wanted to join in.  Sure!  I love sushi, and I also love having control of ingredients so I don't have to worry about hidden sodium, fat, or those crazy yet delicious tempura bits that seem to find their way into every roll everywhere.  Those crunchy flakes are awesome, but if I'm not in the mood for deep-fried bits I could leave them out.

We bought carrots, cucumber, avocado, salmon, cream cheese, serrano peppers, pickled ginger, wasabi, low-sodium soy sauce, sushi rice, and nori paper (the seaweed sheet that makes up the outside of the roll), and we used a sushi-making kit from Amazon to put the rolls together.

First mistake.  Instead of preparing just what we needed, I boiled the entire package of sushi rice and it made twenty cups, I swear.  That was dumb.  I could have boiled a couple of cups and it would have been just fine!  Now we're eating leftover rice with every meal to get rid of it.

The prep work takes a little time, but we had an entire Saturday afternoon to leisurely make sushi rolls and talk about life and laugh and have festive beverages, so we didn't mind.  It might not be something to attempt if you only have a half hour on a weeknight.  Julienning carrots and cucumbers turned out to be the longest part of the sushi-making process.  I cooked the salmon because my girls wanted it that way.

Once the prep work was done, we opened up the long black tube from the Amazon kit and lined each side with rice, and dug a little ditch in the center of that trough of rice to hold the other ingredients. I added all the veggies and a little bit of salmon when it was my turn.  My best friend did the same and added cream cheese.  One of my daughters just wanted cream cheese and salmon in her roll, with carrots on the side.  Picky kids can pick their own ingredients and it's just fine, and since they're involved in the process they have no trouble eating what they've created.  It's a total win.

When you close up the black tube, all of the veggies end up in the center and the rice wraps around them.

Jen Austin - Townsquare Media

With the ingredients in the tube, there is a little plunger that you use to push out the roll onto the nori paper.  Then you just roll it up and wet the edge of the nori paper to seal the roll and make the nori paper stick to itself, and cut the roll into bite-sized discs, and top each one with ginger, soy, wasabi, sriracha, or nothing at all.  Yum.

Just be sure you have good spatial awareness when you lay the rice roll on the nori paper so you don't have a disproportionate amount of the roll sticking out on one end.  Although that extra rice piece was a delicious bite to lop off and consume while we were cooking, we probably could have scooted it down further to make better use of the nori paper.

Overall, this was a blast, and we learned a new skill.  Next time I'm going to try it with mangos and sweet potatoes.  For the girls, I might stick some cooked chicken and broccoli inside the rice, and drizzle it with teriyaki sauce.  Once you've got the kit you don't have to obey any traditional sushi rules and you can go wild according to the craving of the day. The possibilities are endless.

It was so much fun, this might become an every-Saturday thing.  All that leftover rice may come in handy after all.