You are so close to homemade sushi perfection! You have made The Rice, you have chosen The Filling, and you have completed The Rolling. Your lovely rice and filling is rolled beautifully into crisp nori. Can you taste it yet?
But you are not quite there. There is one last step to possibly mess up! Not to worry, it will be so easy once I help you with…
I say it cutting instead of slicing just because I know these are called cut rolls at sushi bars. I have no idea if this is correct terminology, but I do know that this is the most annoying step.
Remember that perfect sushi rice you made? Well, it is still super starchy, and it will stick, stick, stick to your knife. This means that as you cut, you will begin to notice that rather than cleanly slicing through your roll, your knife is going to start catching on the nori and rice and start to smoosh your beautiful roll! But we can combat this.
First of all, you should start with a sharp knife with a non-serrated blade. I usually use my Shun 7″ Santoku, which is made for slicing, but that one needs to be sent to sharpen, so this time around I used my Shun 8″ Chef’s knife. If you do not have such a knife, I recommend you stop everything and get one. No, it’s okay. Just get your sharpest knife, and it can even be serrated with very very tiny teeth. (But, seriously, a good sharp knife is important in cooking, so consider investing in one!)
The next important step is lessening that drag from the sticky rice. Many sites say to dip your knife in water, but I find that this makes my nori much too soggy. Maybe I’m not doing it right. The way I get around the sogginess is by keeping a damp cloth next to me while I cut to remove any rice build-up from the blade. I should wipe it with every slice, but I can usually get away with doing it every three or four slices.
Okay, now cut! I like to cut it in half first. This helps me keep the pieces even. Apply very gentle pressure to the blade as you slowly slice through the roll. You can move the knife back and forth until you make it all the way through, but the fewer motions you need, the easier it is to keep your blade clean. Don’t forget to moisten your blade again before you slice again! You can arrange your little treasures on a platter, but get them out to eat as soon as possible for best texture.
Well, there you have it, each of the four roadblocks of at-home sushi-making, broken down to make this once anxiety-inducing activity accessible to home cooks. While your rolls may not come out perfectly the first time, these tips should make the process a bit smoother. (And even crazy looking rolls will taste amazing.) I hope you are feeling brave enough to try it soon!