I'm not kidding.
A decent sushi dinner for two will usually run you at least $30, assuming you don't indulge in any sake bombs or appetizers, and not including the tip-- With smart shopping and a little kitchen magic I've managed to make a sushi spread for eight at less than $10 a person. Come on sushi fans, tell me that isn't life-changing!? At least your bank account will agree. The initial gathering of ingredients is slightly on the more expensive side, but once you've stocked your kitchen with the staples, you will be able to serve up several sushi dinners in style and only dish out for the cost of fresh fish.
If you haven't visited an Asian Speciality Store- find one! This is key to keeping your costs low. Supermarkets, like Safeway, do include an Asian aisle but they will mark up the price of Nori, Wasabi, Rice, etc. almost triple what you will pay if you go straight to the source. So make best friends with the owner of your local Asian Market and prepare to satisfy those sushi cravings!
Buying FRESH fish is absolutely key. Don't waste your money buying previously frozen fish for sushi, it will never be as delicious! For Ahi, if it is a dull or bright pink, it was probably previously frozen. Ahi should be a deep red and never smell fishy! Costco is amazing for buying fresh seafood, in bulk, at affordable prices. I purchase all my Ahi for the Spicy Tuna Roll and The Seared Ahi from there in 2-3lb packages ranging about $12-$16.
When I moved away from my hometown, I searched New York and then California for the perfect Spicy Tuna or Salmon Roll; alas nothing ever came close to my all-time favorite Spicy Salmon Roll from David's Kampai in Tucson, Arizona. I have modeled my Spicy Tuna roll after his, allowing my taste buds to re-imagine his masterpiece.
Spicy Tuna Roll
- 2 large Ahi Tuna Steaks
- 1-3 Tbsp Sriracha (depending on your spice preference)
- 2 Tbsp Best Foods Mayonnaise (Any substitutes severely change the taste)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt, or seasoned salt if you like
- 1 cup Koshikari Sushi Rice ( I like the "Rice Select" brand)
- 1 Tbsp Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
- 3 sheets of Roasted Nori (Seaweed)
- 1/2 cucumber, skinned and julienned
*Brunoise the Ahi, aka dice it into approximately 1/8 square pieces. Of course, it does not have to be exact but for the mental image aim small! Toss the Ahi in a medium bowl with the mayonnaise and the salt. Add the Sriracha, being sure to check the heat to your taste preferences. I don't like to mess around, when I mean spicy, I mean spicy! I will typically add 3+ Tbsp to mine. At this point you can cover and set the Ahi aside (keep cold!) if you plan to make the Ginger Crab Roll as well.
The Ginger Crab Roll was inspired by a Top Chef episode I'd seen a few years back; I recalled seeing an episode where one of the contestants combined ginger and scallions to make a sushi roll and my mouth instantly watered. Here's my attempt at something similar.
Ginger Crab Roll
- 1 cup Super Lump White Real Crabmeat (Again, I love Costco for this: 16oz Chicken of the Sea Brand for $13.99, you'll get several meals out of this!)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Best Foods Mayonnaise
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 3 Tbsp peeled grated Ginger
- 1 tsp Ginger Powder
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 bunch of diced fresh Scallions (3 Tbsp divided out for the crab roll)
- 1 cup Koshikari Sushi Rice
- 3 sheets of Roasted Nori
- 1/2 avocado, peeled and julienned
- Sesame Seeds
Making the Rolls
*When everything is prepped and your rice has cooled you are now ready to make the rolls. Be sure to give yourself a large, flat, clean surface in which to work your magic. Fill a glass or small bowl with warm water to seal the sushi and set a clean towel within arms reach for your fingers. Most Sushi Chefs use a sushi mat but since I didn't have one when I first began this venture I became quite accustomed to "free rolling".
- Lay your Nori out flat, crease side down. Take a spoonful of rice and pat it into the Nori, repeating until you have made a thin flat layer of rice, leaving about an inch of Nori free on all sides. Sprinkle the rice with the Sesame Seeds.
- At the edge of the rice closest to you, lay a thin layer of the filling (tuna mix or crab mix), in a horizontal line to yourself. I use about 2-3 Tbsp of filling per roll, less for the Spicy Tuna as I reserve the majority of it for the topping.
- Add the avocado or cucumber slices, laying them in a thin line parallel to the filling. The cucumber and the avocado slices will extend past the edge of the nori on both the right and left sides.
- Now the fun part!! Gently pick up the edges of the nori, and roll them in and away from you, slowly tucking the edge closest to you under, as you would a sleeping bag. As you roll and tuck, moisten the nori by dipping your fingers in the water and running them along each edge. As you near the end, make the final seal with water across the end crease. Roll your hands over the roll, back and forth as you would a rolling pin. You can do this several times to secure the roll. This will become easier with practice but if you've ever seen sushi made before you'll pick it up quickly.
- To cut the sushi you will need an extra sharp knife. Run the blade under hot water before cutting. I find it helps to clean it after several cuts, as the rice will begin to stick and disrupt your slices. I cut all my rolls at once as I am ready to plate them. I also like to top off the "end rolls" with extra filling.
I was taught to perfectly sear ahi by Kristian, a very close family friend. I've since created my own version playing off of the ginger and the sriracha used to make my sushi rolls. It is the pairing of these flavors which makes this seared ahi recipe a staple companion to my sushi feasts.
Seared Ahi with a Ginger Honey Ponzu Sauce
- 1 large Ahi Steak
- 1 Tbsp Siriacha
- 2 Tbsp Peanut Oil (divided)
- 1/2 tsp Johnny's Garlic Seasoning
- Salt and Pepper to sprinkle
- Sesame Seeds
- Arugula or Red Cabbage
Ginger Honey Ponzu Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 4Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 2 tsp ginger powder, or ginger juice
- 1 tsp Sesame Seeds
*In a Cast Iron pan heat 1 Tbsp of peanut oil on high until the oil smokes. Meanwhile, pat down one side of the ahi steak with 1 Tbsp of Sriracha, and then cover that surface with sesame seeds by patting them firmly into the tuna. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
*Place the fish sesame-side down into the pan. Immediately cover the exposed side with the remaining Tbsp of Peanut Oil and the garlic seasoning. Again, cover the entire side with a thick layer of sesame seeds.
*Cook the ahi about 30 seconds to 1 minute depending on the thickness. You will know to turn it when a very thin layer of the bottom has begun to turn white. Flip and cook for 30 more seconds on the other side.
*Remove instantly from the pan. The key to seared ahi is that the center must stay uncooked. You will be surprised how quickly this fish will overcook so be sure that the side view boasts a nice pink center! Using a very sharp knife, slice the ahi into thin strips and serve over a bed of arugula or chopped red cabbage with the ponzu sauce.
Serving the Sushi
- Soy Sauce
- Pickled Ginger
- Sesame Seeds
- The remaining diced Scallions
*I serve my Spicy Tuna Roll with a generous topping of the Ahi filling. After the rolls are cut and plated, top the Spicy Tuna with approximately 1 Tbsp of the Ahi mixture. If you have extra Crab mixture you can top these rolls as well.
*Sprinkle the rolls with sesame seeds and the remaining diced scallions. Serve with the wasabi, soy sauce, and ginger. Perhaps pair with some miso or edamame tossed in sea salt!
And there you have it, a homemade sushi extravaganza! Which will soon expand as I am experimenting with creating a new roll using mango and kiwis, and a Shrimp Tempura Roll is next on my list! So stay tuned and stay satisfied!