Sushi At Home: Tempura Shrimp & Spicy Tuna Roll

In an attempt to see if making sushi at home could be easy (or, at least, simple enough) and cheaper, I decided to try making sushi rolls all by myself. You all know how much I love exploring Asian markets, so shopping for the ingredients didn't scare me at all. However, knowing that extremely talented sushi chefs spend years learning proper technique, the process of making all of the individual components did. Getting the rice just right, creating a sauce like the restaurants do... I figured that I had some challenges ahead of me. But, what I found out was, you can make perfectly delicious (and pretty!) sushi in the comfort of your own kitchen without having a nervous breakdown. For my rolls, I picked all of my favorites: avocado, cucumber, tempura shrimp, and spicy tuna!

I grew up with rice as a part of almost every meal, so cooking rice is something that I'm comfortable with. Sushi rice, though, is a bit trickier. You don't want the short grains to come out too soft and mushy. You want to be able to see individual grains. To achieve this, I made sure to rinse the rice thoroughly.  I washed it, gently rubbing the grains between my fingers, until the water became significantly clearer and was no longer white & cloudy (3-4 times). A rice cooker also makes this process much simpler. I filled it with enough water to reach the correct measurement line, then I just pressed the "Cook" switch.

While waiting, I prepared the seasoned vinegar by microwaving 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, and a 1/2 tbsp kosher salt for 45 seconds. After you do this part, make sure to stir to combine well and dissolve the sugar & salt. I poured this mixture over the hot, newly cooked rice and used a paddle to gently toss everything together. Then, I transferred the rice to a glass pyrex (a large platter will work, too). This helps to cool the rice down quickly in an even layer and, unlike piling it all into a bowl, to keep the steam from building up moisture and making the rice mushy.

Next, I put together the spicy tuna. I diced the tuna into small cubes. Some people prefer a more fine, tartare-like texture, but I like having something to really bite into. I also tossed the tuna with a basic "dressing" of sriracha and sesame oil. I used to think spicy tuna was a super-secret mixture of sauces and spices, but the sriracha and sesame oil added just enough heat and flavor to accent the fish. Add a touch of mayonnaise for extra creaminess, or add finely chopped scallions for an added punch of flavor, if you like.

Finally, the last "challenge" for me to overcome: frying a light and crispy tempura shrimp. Have you ever wondered how tempura shrimp is so straight when you order it at a Japanese restaurant? That's because the shrimp is cut a certain way so that it doesn't curl up when cooked. And, guess what? You can find packages of these "special" shrimp at an Asian market. (I'm telling you...they have everything.) There were 20 in this $8 package, so not a big hit to the wallet at all.

You can find at least 5 different brands of tempura flour at the Asian store, as well. Instead of using plain water for the batter, I used half a bottle of Asahi beer. I've heard that tempura batters are best when cold, and beer batters are quite common...So, beer tempura seemed like the way to go. (And yes, it tasted great.)

The last two ingredients of my roll were avocado and cucumber. When slicing the avocado, I left the peel on so that they'd keep their shape better, then I removed the peels when I used the slices. (If you have extra tempura batter and extra avocado slices at the end of your roll-making, avocado "fries" are amazing.)

I could attempt to type out exactly how I rolled my sushi...OR, I could link you to a very helpful tutorial! :) I basically winged it, but still used the pictures from that tutorial as a guideline. One of my recommendations would be to use a rice paddle instead of wet fingers to spread out the rice. It's easier and doesn't add extra moisture to the rice. The bamboo mat also makes a difference. It helps keep everything nice and tidy. Then, before you know it, you've got 4 rolls all done, just like that! I recommend using a sharp, clean knife to then cut each roll into individual pieces.

To garnish, I used the spicy tuna, teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, and fresh scallions.

The creamy avocado and cool cucumber were a perfect balance for the spicy tuna. The tempura shrimp gave the roll texture, and the sauce was the flavorful finish to top everything off! The sesame seeds and fresh scallions also provide bursts of color and crunch. If you want to satisfy your sushi craving, try making some rolls at home! It's not as scary as you may think, and you don't have to be a "master" to serve up something tasty. Want to impress guests at your next holiday party, or want interesting finger food for your Christmas crafts/Secret Santa/holiday movie nights? Try Tempura Shrimp & Spicy Tuna rolls...or come up with your own combinations! :)

Spicy Tuna Roll (makes 4 rolls)

Print Recipe
Sushi Rice:
2 cups Short Grain Rice
2 cups Water
2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
2 tbsp White Granulated Sugar
1/2 tbsp Kosher Salt

Spicy Tuna:
1/2 lb Raw Tuna
1 - 2 tbsp Sriracha
1/2 tbsp Sesame Oil

Tempura Shrimp:
8 Raw Shrimp
4 oz Tempura Flour (1/2 of an 8 oz. package)
3/4 cup Cold Beer
*OR 3/4 cup Ice Cold Water
Oil, for frying

Sushi Rolls:
4 sheets Nori
2 cups Cooked Sushi Rice
8 pieces Shrimp Tempura
1 Avocado, pitted & 1/4" slices
1/2 of a Cucumber, seeded & 1/4" slices
2 - 2 1/2 cups Spicy Tuna
Scallions, for garnish
Sesame Seeds, for garnish
Teriyaki Sauce, for garnish
  1. For the Sushi Rice: Rinse the 2 cups of rice 3-4 times, until the water is significantly clearer and no longer white or cloudy. Place the washed rice and 2 cups of water in a rice cooker, flip the switch from "Warm" to "Cook". While the rice is cooking, prepare the seasoned vinegar. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl, then microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir the mixture to combine evenly and dissolve the sugar & salt. Once the rice is done, transfer to a 13x9 pan or large serving platter. Pour the seasoned vinegar over the hot rice. Using a rice paddle or wooden spoon, lightly toss the rice and vinegar together. Spread the rice into an even layer in order to cool to room temperature.
  2. For the Spicy Tuna: Dice the raw tuna as small as you prefer. Combine the tuna, sriracha, and sesame oil in a small mixing bowl. Toss together until the tuna is evenly coated.
  3. For the Tempura Shrimp: Preheat your oil in a deep-sided pan, deep fryer, or a wok. Place the tempura flour in a medium-size mixing bowl, and make a well in the middle. Slowly pour in the beer (or water), whisking while doing so to avoid lumps. Once the oil is hot enough (test by using a small spoonful of batter), dip the shrimp in the tempura batter, then carefully place in the oil. Fry until a light-golden brown, about 2 minutes. When cooked, drain on a paper towel-lined platter.
  4. For the Sushi Roll: Place 1 sheet of Nori on a bamboo rolling mat. Cover most of the sheet of nori with 1/4 of the cooked rice, using a rice paddle to spread it out evenly and press it down slightly into the nori. About 2 inches in from the bottom of the nori, place 2 pieces each of avocado, cucumber, and tempura shrimp. Fold the "empty" bottom over the filling. Using the bamboo mat to keep everything nice and tight, continue to roll up the sushi. Use a sharp knife to cut the sushi roll into pieces. Top the sushi with scallions, sesame seeds, sauce, and spicy tuna. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. Enjoy!