Lockdown Sushi

Before Coronavirus spread across the UK and lockdown became a thing, I told Sam that I was going to start a restaurant review blog. “Ah, like all those other things you’ve started? Like the video game you were going to make and like the book you were going to write?” he asked.

“Heh…” I replied.

We went out for food once since I made the decision to start a restaurant review blog and then the Coronavirus lockdown happened which kinda put paid that plan. So State of Taste is for the foreseeable future going to be much less the restaurant review blog I’d envisioned, and more a general cooking/drinking at home blog. And if there was ever a time when I needed to up my home cooking game, it’s now.

Which is why we’re making sushi! Sushi is mad easy to make (assembly job ftw!) and falls into the low-risk, high-reward category, which is perfect for when you want to get super fancy at home. And yeah, this probably isn’t going to be on par with the best of the best sushi you’ve ever had, but it’s for sure as tasty as Yo! Sushi and you end up with an absolute tonne of it.

If you’ve not made sushi before, the rice can be pretty scary. There’s so much advice on what to do: leave the lid on while it cools, don’t leave the lid on while it cools, add the seasoning immediately, add the seasoning when it’s cooled, don’t stir it with a metal spoon, blah, blah, blah… Realistically, as long as you add a sensible amount of water so that doesn’t go mushy, the seasoning will cover 99% of those nuances anyway.

Ingredients (makes 4 rolls)

250 g sushi rice
330 ml cold water
4 nori sheets

3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt

These are just ideas, you can use whatever you want. We used really small quantities of each ingredient, so tried to incorporate them into our weekday dinners for the next week.

Smoked salmon
Red pepper

Bamboo sushi mat. You can probably get by without one in a pinch, but they’re like £2 on Amazon, so worth getting.


  1. Cook the rice. I rinsed it in a sieve for about a minute, added cold water to the pan, brought it to the boil, then covered and turned down to simmer for 8 minutes (this was probably a minute too long as some stuck to the pan, so I just transferred the rice that hadn’t stuck to a fresh pan and fluffed it up with a fork for the next steps).
  2. Leave to cool. I left the lid on because the packet said so, although I don’t believe this makes any difference. (Proof: Sam wanted to use the fifth nori in the pack so made a bit more rice but didn’t leave the lid on and it was indistinguishable). It took about an hour to reach room temperature.
  3. Season. Mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt so that the sugar and salt dissolve. Then stir it into the rice. This initially tasted a bit sweet to me and seemed to make the rice go too lose, but I left it for half an hour or so until it was nice and sticky again and the sweetness seemed more muted.
  4. Prepare the rolls. Stick your sushi mat down and cover with a layer of clingfilm. Put the nori on the clingfilm and put some rice on. You want to leave a gap of around 1 cm all around, apart from at the top, where you need about 3 cm to seal the roll. I aimed for about 0.5 cm thickness of rice, which it’s easiest to use your hands for, otherwise you end up smushing it all down. Add your fillings in a line about 5 cm from the bottom.
  5. Roll the rolls. Starting at the bottom, use the mat to pull the clingfilm and nori over the fillings, then use the mat and the clingfilm to kind of guide the nori into a roll. This sounds harder than it is, but it’s pretty intuitive when you try it, and the clingfilm makes it easy to readjust if you find yourself going wrong. Just make sure that you’re using the mat to keep the rolls tight, then wrap in clingfilm and stick in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  6. Use a sharp knife to slice the rolls. When you’ve cut the scraggy ends off, you’ll probably end up with about 8 or so sushi pieces per roll. Plate up however you want to serve them and leave for half an hour or so.
  7. Serve. Use whatever sushi accompaniments you like. Soy sauce, picked ginger and wasabi are classics. Because it’s the end of days I haven’t been able to get wasabi, so we used horseradish as a substitute for the mustardy nose-burning sensation.