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Homemade sushi is easier than you’d think, less-expensive than takeout, and really fun to make. Our spicy salmon roll amps things up with gorgeous fresh salmon, creamy avocado, crunchy cucumber, and our best-in-class spicy sauce. Don’t miss it.
Why we love this recipe
Sushi is a true art form, and frequently I’m delighted to leave it to the pros. I’m no Morimoto, to say the least. But making spicy salmon roll and other sushi at home is fun once in a while, too!
Homemade sushi is:
- Totally customizable
- A fun activity for adults and kids alike
- Not as hard as you might think
Our spicy salmon roll is:
- Perfectly balanced: creamy, crunchy, savory, and spicy
- Greater than the sum of its parts. It eats like magic, but those parts were built from the ground up, with lots of attention to detail.
- Just so GOOD! Writing about it now makes me want MORE.
One of the benefits of homemade sushi is that you get to decide exactly what to put in it. Here’s what I use for our spicy salmon roll.
- Sushi-grade salmon. “Sushi-grade” and “sashimi-grade” are not legal designations. If you see that language at the store, it means the purveyor feels the sourcing and handling of that fish makes it safe to eat raw. The bottom line is that you need to buy fish for sushi from someone you trust. Commercial flash-freezing helps contribute to safety, too.
- I tend to order from Honolulu Fish Company or buy from the special freezer at Whole Foods.
- Just to have said it, fish for sushi is not cheap. You can also make great homemade sushi without it. Substitute smoked salmon or slow-roasted salmon, or make savory vegetarian rolls.
- Here’s everything you need to know to make great sushi rice.
- Here’s our best-in-class spicy sauce recipe.
- For garnishes that add a nice textural and visual element, I choose depending on availability. Tobiko (the fabulously crunchy savory fish roe) is my favorite, but black and white sesame seeds work, too.
- Firm-ripe Hass avocado is my favorite. It’s creamy but doesn’t fall apart.
How to make spicy salmon roll
Here are the basic steps to follow to make homemade sushi. It takes a little practice, but eating your mistakes is delicious, too! You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.
- Slice the ingredients into thin strips. Even with larger rolls like this one, ingredients shouldn’t be more than about 1/4-inch // 1 cm thick or it will quickly get hard to roll them up.
- Place a sheet of nori shiny-side down. The duller-looking, grippy inside face is the one that gets the ingredients. Use about half a cup of rice per roll and do your best to distribute it evenly over the nori. Leave a border at the far end for sealing.
- Layer the ingredients toward the side of the nori that’s closest to you.
- Rolling is a two-part process. First you tuck in the ingredients and check to make sure they’re secure. Then you seal the roll.
With homemade sushi, practice may not make perfect. But it makes pretty great // really fun // and totally delicious.
Expert tips and FAQs
For equipment, you can go bare-bones with just a bamboo sushi mat. I like to have a few so several people can use them at once.
Or go a little more deluxe and buy a kit. Here’s one with a sushi oke and paddle, the proper tools for making sushi rice.
I’m not a fan of plastic wrap in general, but a little goes a long way here to wrap your bamboo mat. (And you’ll be saving a lot of plastic by avoiding takeout containers, just sayin.)
Place a small bowl of water on the work surface and dip your hands in it before picking up the rice. A splash of rice vinegar in the water is traditional. It contributes a bit of flavor and acts as a mild antiseptic.
Use a very sharp knife. A chef’s knife is okay, but if you have a thinner slicing knife that’s even better. Use a wet towel or paper towel to wipe the blade between cuts. This will keep the blade clean, slightly wet, and slicing neatly.
Do your best to slice each piece in a single cut rather than sawing the knife back and forth.
Spicy salmon roll is a type of maki (sushi roll) made from raw salmon, spicy sauce (Japanese-style mayonnaise mixed with chili sauce), and sushi rice, wrapped in nori (seaweed). It can be rolled inside-out or with the seaweed on the outside, and other flavors can be added.
How to serve spicy salmon roll
When we serve homemade sushi, there are two basic formats. Either I’ll make all the rolls myself, or, more frequently, I’ll prep all the ingredients, make a few rolls to get us started, and then everyone makes their own.
It can help to set out some drinks and starters to keep everyone happy. Try:
- The Benefit (our popular craft sake cocktail) // Japanese beer // or a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
- Chili salt edamame
- Blistered shishito peppers
- Miso-roasted Brussels sprouts
- 1 recipe sushi rice
- 1/2 pound sushi-grade salmon
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 seedless cucumber
- Spicy mayo
- 1 package sushi nori (dried seaweed)
TO GARNISH AND SERVE
- 1 small jar masago (smelt roe) or tobiko (flying fish roe), optional
- Black and white sesame seeds, optional
- Sliced scallions, optional
- Low-sodium soy sauce
Make the rice
- Prepare a batch of sushi rice and let it cool to body temperature (or room temperature if you prefer) while you prepare the fillings.
For the fillings
- With a very sharp knife, cut the salmon into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
- Halve and pit the avocados. Slice the flesh lengthwise into strips and scoop it from the skin with a large spoon.
- Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the watery center from each half with a small spoon. Then cut each half in half crosswise, and cut each quarter into 4 sticks.
To assemble the sushi
- Lay a bamboo sushi mat on a cutting board with one of the short sides facing you. Cover the surface of the mat with plastic wrap.
- Place a piece of nori on the mat, with the shiny side down and one of the short sides toward you.
- Wet your hands (a bowl of warm water with a splash of rice vinegar helps here) and pick up about 1/2 cup of rice.
- Using your hands, spread the rice fairly evenly over the surface of the nori, leaving the half-inch strip farthest from you riceless. You don’t need to spread the rice perfectly to end up with good-looking sushi.
- Near the end closest to you, lay a strip of fish and some avocado and cucumber across the entire width of the rice.
- Spread on a generous bit of spicy mayo and sprinkle with roe, if using.
- Using your finger, wet the bare strip of nori to ensure it will seal the roll.
To roll the sushi
- Lift up the edge of the bamboo mat closest to you and tuck your thumbs underneath.
- Use the rest of your fingers to hold the fillings in place for a moment while you roll the mat once away from you to enclose the filling in the nori.
- Continue to roll the mat away from you, pressing gently and pulling slightly toward yourself at the bottom, to shape the roll.
- Remove the bamboo mat.
- Wipe the blade of your sharp knife with a wet paper towel or kitchen towel. Cut the roll in half crosswise, and then slice each half into three or four rounds.
- Sprinkle with roe, scallions, and/or sesame seeds, if using.
- Serve with soy sauce for dipping and wasabi and pickled ginger, if you like.
- Make sushi rolls within the hour that you'd like to eat them.
- Store leftover sushi rice in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. Use leftovers for poke bowls and sushi bowls rather than for rolls.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 374Total Fat: 16gCarbohydrates: 44.9gFiber: 3.4gProtein: 13.1g