Not everyone is a fan of sushi, I know, but we love it! If you do as well I’m sure you also know how much it costs to have sushi for a takeaway or as a sit-down meal or even a snack at a restaurant in South Africa. For us, as frugal as we are, the price seems just way too much.


So a few years ago, we decided to teach ourselves how to make sushi at home. And guess what? It is not an expensive meal to make at home at all! Sushi night has very quickly become a little ‘tradition’ of ours on most Friday nights.


You might wonder how we manage to make sushi on the cheap. Well, for one, we make sushi with vegetables only. Sushi-grade fish is above our budget and we also don’t feel that we are knowledgeable enough to handle raw fish at home so we just don’t do it. Second, we buy most of our Sushi ingredients in Chinese shops where it’s all much, much cheaper. Here is a rough breakdown of the cost of ingredients:


Sushi rice: a packet of sushi rice, which is more than enough for five or six meals for two people costs just over R25.
Soy sauce: a large bottle of sodium-reduced soy sauce costs about R50 but it lasts us a very long time.
Pickled ginger: a jar of pickled ginger (400 gr) costs about R30 and it lasts us a very long time as well. I sometimes even make pickled ginger at home, which costs even less than that.
Wasabi paste: a tube costs about R30 but this lasts us for about a year (because it’s so hot, you can’t really have too much of it anyway).
Sushi Nori sheets: we probably pay abut R25-R30 for a packet of 10 sheets.
Vegetables: for two people, we usually use 1 carrot, 1/3 of an English cucumber and 1 Avocado, and sometimes we don’t even use all of it.


On average, we use about 3 Nori sheets for a meal for the two of us, bringing the total cost to a rough estimate of about R45, and I’m being generous here – it probably costs a bit less than that. No restaurant or takeaway can beat that price for that much sushi.


Making sushi at home also means that you can get creative with your vegetable fillings and mix and match them as you like: cucumber, carrots, lettuce, avocado, asparagus, pickled beetroot, green and red peppers, mushrooms, baby marrows and pickles of all sorts.


It does take us about an hour to slice the veggies, cook the rice and let it cool, and then roll the sushi, but my husband and I enjoy spending that time in the kitchen, chatting happily away. Rolling the sushi is probably the trickiest part you have to learn but this gets so much easier with practice! Our very first sushi roll was an absolute disaster but I’m sure everyone’s first sushi roll always is.


Vegetable sushi is also a very healthy meal. The Sushi Nori sheets are a good source of iodine, for example, and ginger is good for your digestive system and it has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties too. We use sodium-reduced soy sauce which is a much healthier alternative, especially if you consume soy sauce regularly like we do.


To make sushi rolls at home, you will need a bamboo mat and your choice of filings. We usually put a sheet of cling wrap over the bamboo mat before we start, to protect it, otherwise it’s a bit messy once you’re finished with it, difficult to clean and takes quite a long time to dry completely.


Thinly slice vegetables of your choice or use a julienne slicer if you have one (we actually prefer the julienne strips). If you’re using carrots, asparagus or baby marrows, steam them in the microwave and allow to cool. Boil the sushi rice, drain, add a teaspoon of vinegar and sugar, stir and allow to cool completely. And now the fun begins!


Making sushi


We made this short video tutorial to show you how to roll and cut your sushi.



And here is the meal we shared! It might not look as perfect as it would on a plate in a restaurant, but it tastes great and it certainly costs a lot less. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi paste and soy sauce and if you like, a dip made from mayonnaise and chilli sauce.


If you decide to try making your own sushi at home, please share your experience with me in the comments below.


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