Spicy Tuna Rolls: Sushi – It can be done folks!

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Sushi is scary. Let’s be honest. Just the thought of making it is scary. This might be why people are more inclined to go spend a fortune on it rather than make it themselves. I am totally one of those people, and because I have such a phobia of eating bad raw fish, I only usually buy sushi that costs a fortune. Zach, however, is not one of those people. He has been making sushi for a long time and is actually quite good at it. Now it may not look completely traditional (with the nori sheets OUTSIDE of the rice), but this is the best way to do it when you are making it for the first time. And although it may not look totally proper, it tastes just the same, so who cares!?

So when my mom was here visiting she was dying for some of Zach’s homemade sushi. It was the perfect opportunity to whip out the old bamboo mat. We had yet to make sushi since we moved to Colorado. Let’s first talk about what we went through to find sushi-grade tuna and salmon in Northern Colorado. It…was…not…easy. You would think, much like that of Southern California, that if you walked into a Japanese supermarket you would be able to find it. WRONG! Well, I take that back. You can find raw fish, frozen with freezer burn. Who knows how long it’s been sitting in the back of that freezer cabinet. We bit the bullet and headed over to Whole Foods. Although a bit on the high price side, it was worth it. We knew we were getting the real thing, and we knew it wasn’t going to make us sick the next day. When it comes to raw fish, sometimes it’s just better to pay a little bit more for the real thing.

What’s so great about sushi is that you can be as creative as you want. You can use the fish you want, the sauce you want, the veggies you want. The possibilities are endless. Or you could completely Americanize it, like many restaurants are starting to do. I like your classic spicy tuna roll. I’m not a huge fan of salmon in general, cooked or raw. I know, I know. It’s sad. It’s just a bit too fishy for my taste. On this sushi venture, we made a spicy tuna roll with avocado, carrot and cucumber. Don’t forget the crunch to match with the soft! It’s very important!

Use the freshest fish on the market!

If you are new to sushi in general, I suggest starting with something simple like a spicy tuna roll. You wouldn’t even know you are eating raw fish. If that is still too scary for you, try a simple vegetable roll. Skip out on the fish all together just to get yourself use to the textures of eating sushi. This can sometimes be the hardest part. It takes some longer than others, but in the end it’s totally worth it. It’s an easy and nutritional meal.

Healthy and delicious =)

* Please Note * It does not take 50 minutes to prep sushi (unless of course you are just learning how to roll, then it may take you three days), but you do need to let the rice chill for at least 30 minutes. It really should only take you about 20-30 minutes to prep.

Another thing that I believe is super important, don’t make the rolls too large. You want these bites to be, hey you guessed it, BITE SIZED! If it’s hard to pop in your mouth all at once then it is much too large. This takes practice though, so just be patient. They won’t look beautiful the first time you make them.

Make sure these babies are small enough to eat in one bite!

Well we had to pair this dish with a beer, and NO we did not pair it with Brew Dog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Zach though it would be funny to throw it into the picture. I’m not sure why. Something with eating raw fish and penguin. I don’t get it, or his humor sometimes, but whatever. If you would like to learn more about this beer visit Brew Dog’s Website. This beer will totally blow your mind and empty your wallet. It’s worth looking into though, just not for a pairing with sushi =).

Go with a pilsner for this pairing. We paired it with Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils. You don’t want something super heavy so that it overpowers the taste of the sushi. This is a traditional pilsner that’s perfect with fish. Almost like drinking a dry white wine with a piece of halibut. It is refreshing and crisp and just perfect!

We hope that after you read this recipe, it will make your more inclined to make sushi one day!


Spicy Tuna Rolls
Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr, 10 min
5 rolls


  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 5 tbsp sriracha chili sauce (less or more depending upon one's need for heat)
  • 1/2 lb sashimi grade tuna (FRESH!), sliced thinly into 2 inch pieces
  • 5 nori sheets (roasted seaweed)
  • 2-3 carrots, cut into 2 inch slivers
  • 1 cucumber, cut into 2 inch slivers
  • 1 avocado, pit removed and sliced very thin
  • 2 cups (dry) sushi rice (or Calrose rice will work just fine)
  • soy sauce
  • wasabi paste (either from a tube, or prepared by mixing water with wasabi powder)
  • pickled ginger


  • Mix the mayo, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin powder and sriracha chili sauce. Whisk until combined. Set aside.
  • Cook the rice as per the packing's directions in a rice cooker (if you do not have a rice cooker, you can do this on the stove top but be careful not to undercook the rice). The rice should be sticky. Remove the rice and place in a medium bowl. Refrigerate for 30 mins or until cool to the touch. Do NOT put the rice in the freezer to speed up this process.
  • To prepare the sushi, place the nori on a bamboo mat, short side facing you. Wet your hands in cold water and spread 1 to 1 1/2 cup cooked rice on the nori (make sure your hands stay damp or else the rice will stick to you and not the nori).
  • Once the rice is evenly distributed, about 1/3 of the way up the nori, place a line of tuna (or salmon) followed by a line of carrot slivers, cucumber slivers, and avocado slices. Spread the spicy sauce over the top.
  • To wrap, fold over the short end of the nori to cover the rest of the ingredients. Then, tightly wrap the roll being careful to apply just enough pressure to hold the roll together. Too little pressure you and your roll will fall apart and too much pressure will force the inside ingredients out the ends.
  • Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 1/2 inch slices.
  • Serve with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi paste.


Hardware: * Rice Cooker or Saucepan * Wooden Spoon * Cutting Board * Sharp Knife * Measuring Cups * Measuring Spoons * Whisk * Bowls * Bamboo Mat (for sushi rolling) *



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