My friend’s mom showed me how to make basic vegetarian maki* years ago. I did this mostly from memory and with some confirmation from the internet. You should feel free to play with the vinegar and rice seasoning proportions and different types of raw (or cooked) veggies until you find what best fits your taste buds. Rice seasonings come in many varieties and are available in the Japanese food aisles of most Asian grocery stores, as are nori sheets. I have not checked the international food aisles of any standard grocery stores so I can’t speak to availability in those types of stores. A number of rice seasoning mixes contain dried fish products, so check the ingredients list before making a purchase.
- 3 cups cooked sushi rice (1 cup uncooked)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- Rice seasoning to taste
- 1 tsp sugar (if rice seasoning does not contain sugar)
- 1 cup julienned veggies, such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, zucchini, avocados, bell peppers, etc
- 3 or 4 scallions, green parts only
- Nori (seaweed) sheets
- Pickled ginger (optional)
- Wasabi (optional)
- Tamari or soy sauce (optional)
- Sushi rolling mat, bamboo
1. Mix the rice, vinegar and rice seasoning (and sugar, if using) until well-combined. The mixture should be a little sticky.
2. Lay the sushi rolling mat flat. Place a sheet of nori on it. Spread a layer of rice about 1/2 an inch thick on one half of the nori sheet. Place a line of julienned veggies and scallions down the center of the rice.
3. Lift the rice end of the sushi rolling mat and start rolling, pressing firmly but not too hard. You may need to use your fingers at first to keep the veggies from slipping out. Keep rolling until you have made a circle with the rice, and then continue to roll the rest of the length of the nori sheet. You may need to lift away the rolling mat as you go, so the remainder of the nori sheet can adhere to the outside of the roll.
4. Place the finished roll on a cutting board and gently cut into slices. I make my slices about 1 1/2 inches thick, but you can do whatever works best for you. You should get six to eight pieces per roll.
5. Serve as is, or with wasabi, soy/tamari sauce and pickled ginger.
6. Store in a tightly-lidded container in the refrigerator for up to a few days. (I usually store the ingredients separately, and simply put together fresh rolls each day until I finish off the rice and veggies.)
* I always get confused by the different types of sushi. As a reminder, maki are rolls made with seaweed, rice and fillings; nigiri are raw fish on top of rice; and sashimi are sliced raw fish. Within these categories and across regions, there are many variations and traditions, but these simple definitions should suffice for the home cook.