There are a lot of sushi making kits out there to choose from. In order to narrow down the choices and help you pick one, we will have to figure out what you are actually looking for.
Do you want a sushi making kit that:
- Mainly has all of the ingredients in it already so that you don’t have to try to find them in an oriental grocery store yourself? or
- One that has a Makisu (bamboo sushi rolling mat) and maybe a rice paddle? or
- Maybe you’re looking for a new fangled contraption invented to make sushi rolling easier or more convenient?
- Or still yet maybe you’re wanting something that is a combination of some of the choices above?
Does what you are looking for fall under any of the above choices? I hope so.
Now let’s break those choices down into 2 separate categories to make it easier to identify your new kit and educate you on what to look for.
The first category is what I will call the “Traditional Sushi Making Kits”.
The second category… Yep… wait for it… is what I will call the “Non-Traditional Sushi Making Kits”. Wow. I am so creative!…
Traditional Sushi Making Kits
These kits contain some combination of a traditional sushi rolling mat (“Makisu”), rice paddle, and sushi making ingredients. Below are listed some things to look for and be aware of when considering one of these kits.
Sushi Rolling Mat
There are basically 2 types or styles available. One has wide flat slats and the other has small round bamboo sticks about the diameter of a toothpick. I prefer the one with wide flat slats personally. It is stiffer and I feel like I have more control over it when rolling. Some people prefer the other. Generally they say that the mat with the small sticks is better for making the smaller diameter rolls – like the 1 ingredient hosomaki roll. A tuna roll is an example of a 1 ingredient hosomaki roll. Even in this case however, I still find that I like the wider slats. This is a personal preference thing I think. What you can do is get a kit that has both and see which you like. These mats are very cheap and you can get both easily for less than 10 dollars. Sometimes they include a rice paddle too.
The rice paddle (or “Shimoji”) usually comes in wood, bamboo and plastic. Which you get a lot of times comes down to personal choice. But DO NOT get a wood paddle however. Wood will tend to absorb things where a bamboo paddle won’t. Opt for a bamboo paddle if you want a wood like paddle.
At this point though, you might be thinking… “Hey! but isn’t bamboo wood!”. Well, actually no it isn’t. Bamboo is actually a grass. And it also is very non-porous and tends to repel liquids very well.
Some plastic rice paddles come with little “bumps” on the surface making it harder for the rice to stick to this kind of paddle as compared to a standard bamboo paddle. That is one advantage a plastic paddle with bumps has over a standard bamboo paddle.
Either way, you’ll pretty much get good results with either choice though.
Sushi Making Ingredients
If you are new to sushi you may be unfamiliar with all of the ingredients needed to make sushi and are opting to look for a kit that already has them all included. Or maybe you’re an old pro just looking to make it easier to get all of the ingredients without having to pick them up separately yourself.
Both of these are good reasons to get a kit like this. To get good results however, there are some things to look for to insure your kit has good quality ingredients:
1. Pick a good brand name kit. Sushi Chef is the most popular brand of ingredient based sushi making kits and they are known for their good quality ingredients (note I said good, not premium).
2. Any other kind of “assembled” kit (does not contain all of the same name brand ingredients). These kits will have different combinations of different brands of ingredients. Some things to look for in the most common ingredients included in this kind of kit are:
- Rice. Nishiki and Kokuho Rose are some of the most common types of rice included in a kit like this. They are both good, solid brands of rice for sushi making and you will get good results with them. They are not a premium brand of rice for sushi however. For the best sushi rice typically one uses a super premium short grain white rice. Both Nishiki and Kokuho Rose are a medium grain rice and neither is of super premium quality. Two super premium short grain white rice brands that I highly recommend are Tamaki Gold and Tamanishiki. Neither are currently included in any kind of kit however at this time. I mention them so that you can pick them up individually yourself if you are wanting to make the very best sushi rice possible.
- Rice Vinegar. You can’t go wrong with standard brands Marukan or Mitsukan. Look for a kit that has these brands and you will be fine. Seasoned rice vinegar is supposedly ready to mix in your rice to make sushi rice. I highly recommend that you buy the unseasoned rice vinegar and make your own sushi seasoning for best results using a very good recipe.
- Sushi Nori. You want a kit that has a very high quality “roasted” or “toasted” sushi nori. The blacker the nori, the better. If the nori is light green or you can see through it, it is a cheap nori from China. Don’t buy a kit that has this kind of nori.
- Sushi Ginger (“Gari”). There are many different brands of sushi or pickled ginger available making it hard to say which brand is better over another in a kit of this type. One thing to look for however is ginger with a light pink tint as opposed to a red tint. Young ginger is what is preferred for a sushi ginger and it tends to turn light pink when it is pickled. Old ginger tends to turn more red looking. Sometimes manufacturers will actually add a red dye to the ginger to try to make it look more “appealing” inadvertently not aware of the fact that knowledgeable sushi connoisseurs know that pink (young ginger) is better than red (old ginger). The takeaway here is that pink is good.
Non-Traditional Sushi Making Kits
Those that have tried to roll with a traditional sushi mat may be looking in this category because they may have found that the old-school style of rolling was difficult.
And there are a few prominent products that are in this category; however, a review of each is beyond the scope of this article.
With that said, we will still review a few things to “watch out for” when looking at these kinds of kits. Some of them will limit what you can make with the kit.
- Beware of the one-size roller. If you want to make sushi rolls of various sizes, like hosomaki (small), chumaki (medium), and futomaki (large), there are kits out there that are capable of making only one size. Sushezi is one of those. It makes a roll around the size of a futomaki roll only. If you want to make all 3 sizes, Sushezi won’t be able to do it.
- Beware the kit with too many parts and pieces. There are some kits that contain up to 4 to 6 pieces in it just to make a sushi roll. And to me, for rolling sushi, more parts is NOT better. Sushiquik is one that springs to mind in this area. It is reviewed well on Amazon, but my results were mixed.
- Nigiri Sushi Mold/Maker. Most kits do not contain a tool for making nigiri sushi (hand-formed oval of rice with slice of meat on top). The exception is the Sushi Magic Combo Sushi Making kit. It does contain one and the results with it were very good.
We have reviewed some of the basic things to look for when choosing a traditional or non-traditional sushi making kit.
Things like which sushi mat or rice paddle is the best, what to look for in a kit that contains sushi ingredients, and an overview of what to watch out for when picking a kit that contains a non-traditional device developed to help make rolling your sushi or forming nigiri sushi easier or more convenient.
Hopefully now, you will be armed with enough knowledge to be able to go out and make an educated decision on which sushi making kit is the right one… for you.
Post time: 06-13-2017