Homemade Sushi and Vegetable Tempura

I counted. It’s been 20 days since I posted an Asian recipe. I’ve been hanging onto this gem for a few weeks and I think it’s finally time I shared it with you. Making Japanese food can be remarkably intimidating, especially sushi, because it’s not something most people make at home. Parker and I made our first attempt at homemade sushi last year and we were shocked as to how easy it actually was! …well, maybe not super easy, but it’s definitely possible and a really fun idea for a date night!

It’s important that you make the sushi first, even if this is the main course. The appetizer of vegetable tempura doesn’t taste good cold, so simply prep the vegetables while preparing your sushi rolls and you can fry the tempura while you’re rolling the sushi rolls. Again, another reason it’s a great date night meal – The more hands, the better!

One tool you will most definitely need to make these sushi rolls is a bamboo mat. Here’s an example of a sushi bamboo mat, as well as a flat spoon to help place the rice on the nori (you can find a package of this online in the Tips & Tricks section). You can find these in the Japanese section of most grocery stores or online. I found mine at Central Market which is a more expensive, intense grocery store that does sell cooking equipment, which is probably why they had it in stock.

First, it’s important you have a really good recipe for sticky rice because that’s literally what holds your meal together. I found a great recipe for sushi rice from Alton Brown (another chef on the Food Network) that I recommend you try. Be careful when cooking the rice, it’s really easy to burn the rice on the bottom of the pot because you don’t stir the rice around when you cook it.

Homemade Sushi full recipe found here!

Sushi Rice – Note: You’ll want to start this first! The rice takes about an hour.


  • 2 cups sushi or short grain rice
  • 2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt


  • Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.
  • Place the rice and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi.

Okay! Now, while your sushi rice is cooking, you can prepare all the ingredients for the spicy tuna roll. This recipe is really easy to tweak if you don’t like things that are a) spicy or b) tuna. Simply replace the tuna with a different fish (or even with chicken) of your choice. You can add or subtract the vegetables you don’t like (Parker hates hates hates cucumbers in sushi… so odd, that’s one of my favorite parts, I love the crunch!) so when we made our sushi rolls which each rolled our own: One with cucumbers and one without.

If you are interested in making the shrimp tempura roll, simply prepare all the ingredients and assemble your roll after you’ve made the tempura (want it to stay hot).

Spicy Tuna Roll OR Shrimp Tempura Roll: Each roll can be cut into 6-8 pieces, but this recipe will yield at least 4 rolls


  • 2 cups sushi rice.
  • 2-3 nori sheets
  • 150g of Tuna fillet (or 20 pieces of small shrimp, peeled and deveined)
  • 1 avocado, cut into skinny slices
  • 1 bag of thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cucumber, cut into skinny slices
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise of your choice (look for the orange-colored mayo in the Japanese aisle if you can, it’s much better than regular mayo for Japanese dishes!)
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce


  • Chop the tuna into small dice and mix it together in a bowl.
  • Add the mayonnaise and the Sriracha sauce, and mix. Mix the chopped tuna with the sauce.
  • Take half a nori sheet, cover with rice and flip it so that the rice is facing the bamboo mat.
  • With a spoon, make a line of the spicy tuna (or add 2-3 pieces of shrimp tempura)  along the edge of the nori closer to you. Add reasonable amount of avocado, carrots, and cucumbers (you don’t want to add too much – you still have to be able to roll it!)
  • Roll it inside-out and cut into 6-8 pieces. Make sure your knife is very very sharp! And cut slowly so you don’t tear it.

Your sushi rolls are prepped! And the spicy tuna rolls may even be completed. Now, here’s the recipe for Vegetable Tempura, but you can use the same batter to tempura-fry the shrimp and add them to your rolls. Both rolls are delicious, just depends on your preferences!

Vegetable Tempura with Soy Ginger Sauce: Serves 4-6

Ingredients: Any vegetable you want to fry! Here are some suggestions:

  • Sweet Potato (my personal favorite)
  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • 20 shrimp peeled and deveined, if you want to make shrimp tempura rolls (or just eat the shrimp tempura by itself, it’s so good!)
  • Tempura Box Batter – You can try to make your own, but these are super cheaper and very effective! I suggestive Kikkoman Tempura Batter Mix – but any will do!
  • One can of sparkling water (use this instead of regular water and you’ll get a fluffier tempura batter)
  • Vegetable Oil (enough to fill the pot and have battered vegetables submerged)
  • Ingredients for Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce
    • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
    • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
    • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  • Cut vegetables into two inch long pieces (think about the width of a thick french fry)
  • Follow box instructions (aka add sparkling water to batter – note: don’t just dump the whole box in! This box will last you awhile)
  • Heat oil in pan
  • Batter vegetables and shrimp (this will get messy!)
  • Drop vegetables and shrimp into oil (once oil is popping) for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown (be careful not to burn the oil!)
  • Let dry on paper towel to absorb excess oil
  • Instructions for Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce: Add all of the ingredients to a lidded jar and shake well to combine. Serve as a dipping sauce for tempura.

Serve them while they’re hot! Slice up your sushi rolls and enjoy!! I wish you the best of luck with this less-than-beginner. I think if you can do this, you can conquer any culinary adventure! Happy eating everyone, you worked hard – you deserve it!!

4 thoughts on “Homemade Sushi and Vegetable Tempura

  1. Pingback: Japanese veggie tempura | Foodieblog

  2. Pingback: Tempura | Red Maple

  3. Pingback: Eating My Feelings at NOBU Dallas | Eating My Feelings

  4. Pingback: Sushi Dinner | Chef Doru's Blog

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