Sushi – Many Ways – Kale, Asparagus, Shitake, Tuna, Shrimp, Avocado and more!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

As I said yesterday – I love sushi!  I could eat it every day.  Here – I am going to try to take some of the intimidation factor out of preparing it at home.

Firstly – if your local supermarket has a fresh fish department & they also sell pre-made sushi – you can likely buy the spicy tuna already prepared – by the pound – plus any other fish you might like, already cut into sushi pieces.  The cutting of the fish is key & I am not even going to pretend I have even tried to master it.  I did TRY to do it, once or twice, but all I ended up doing was massacring some really beautiful & expensive fish.


I buy my spicy tuna already pre-made at the most expensive store this side of Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods) and Bristol Farms – my local Gelson’s.  I think they charge $20 pound for the spicy tuna but a pound is a LOT – and my store is expensive – so be sure to suss out what your local stores offer & at what price before you give up.

Also – imitation crab – that pink-dyed whitefish in the fresh fish department – usually pretty cheap – like $5 pound.  This is what I use to make California rolls.


I pretty much stick to rolls, though I do make a crispy rice with spicy tuna that doesn’t require any seaweed or rolling.  Nori (seaweed) is WAY cheaper in ethnic stores than in mainstream supermarkets so try to find one near you – if money is an issue.


Also critical for sushi – the wasabi & ginger.  I like to buy those at Gelson’s, too, in these little containers that cost $1.29 each.


Ginger also comes jarred & wasabi can be had in tubes or powdered.  The powdered variety is surprisingly good (when mixed with water).


Also important to sushi – your rice.  There is a short grain rice that is specific to sushi.  Try to use that – if you can.  And here is an EASY SUSHI RICE RECIPE:


Sushi Rice

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005

4 cups


  • 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.


OR – you can get crazy & make your rice out of cauliflower!!!

Recipe here.

Actual sushi rice is easier to work with than the less sticky cauliflower rice so, if you are new to this, I recommend going with the rice.



Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what you put in your rolls.  I used

Kale – Sauteed like this.

Avocado – sliced

Asparagus – steamed (wrapped in wet paper towel in the microwave for a minute or two)

Carrots – sliced thin

Cucumber – sliced thin

Spicy tuna

Shrimp – cooked (or tempura shrimp)

Imitation crab – recipe below

Jalapenos – sliced and/or diced

and both kinds of rice – regular & cauliflower.



I sauteed the kale first (recipe here) and cooled it.  I also sauteed the sliced shitake in a little sesame oil & garlic – and cooled them.

I made a spicy mayo to add to the crab.  I had 1/2 pound of crab & this was the perfect amount of mayo.  if you hate spice – just use straight mayo.


Spicy Mayo

1/2 cup mayo (use authentic Japanese KEWPIE mayo, if possible.  I did not.)

2 TBS Sriracha

1 tsp Sesame oil

Whisk it together & voila!


Spicy Imitation Crab

Chop your crab or pulse it in the food processor to get that superfine dice.  Add the spicy mayo & mix well.



Once you have prepared & cooled ALL your ingredients, the next step is assembling the rolls.  Some people think those bamboo sushi rollers are helpful.  If you like them – wrap it in plastic wrap before you use it.  That prevents rice & other goo from getting smashed into it.  I like to go freestyle.

Lay out the nori & press your rice into in all the way to the sides but leaving a lot of room on the nori for rolling.


Top it with your selection of ingredients.  This one will be asparagus, kale & shitake with the cauliflower rice.



Then start rolling this thing from the side with the ingredients on it.  Roll it as tightly as you can.  Dampen the last 1/2 inch with wet fingers & roll the thing over onto the wet edge.  I then rub it left & right on the counter in an attempt to seal it.  Cut it with the seam side down with a VERY sharp knife.  Wetting the knife can help prevent rice from sticking to it.

Do not get disgusted if you ruin a few of these before you get the hang of it.  Maybe practice on a few with just carrots & cucumbers & rice so you can get the hang of it without wasting the more precious ingredients.


Here I go with a spicy tuna one (there are asparagus spears hidden under there:



I add chopped AND sliced jalapenos to almost all my sushi.  You needn’t – if the heat bugs you.

And here is my chunky California roll.   If you chop the crab in a food processor – you will get the more recognizable looking crab dice.


Or a shrimp sushi roll:


And finally – if you are feeling adventurous – heat up a little vegetable oil in a pan.  Make some rectangular, flattish cubes with your sticky rice.  Pan fry them til they are golden on both sides.  Top with spicy tuna & some jalapenos! YUM!  Sesame seeds – either white, black or toasted – work very nicely as garnish


So – there you have it.  I hope you try it & I hope you have great success!

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