7 Common Sushi Making Mistakes You Should Avoid

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By Ashley Woodward • Last Updated: February 16, 2023

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Sushi Making Mistakes You Should Avoid

Sushi is one of the popular Japanese dishes in the world that everybody loves. Although a lot of tutorials show how easy preparing sushi is, admit it, we end up failing big time. So, to redeem ourselves here is the 7 common sushi-making mistakes we all should avoid!

#1 Using the Wrong Type of Rice

Sushi Rice

Would you believe that using the wrong rice type is the most common mistakes of making all?

In fact, only a few rice grains can pass as sushi rice. Sushi is normally short grain and a little sticky in consistency before adding in the rest of the ingredients.

To be precise, you need to use short-grain polished white Japanese rice. This type contains a high starch level which is essential in making sushi.

You can see a lot of Japonica rice at the supermarkets labeled as sushi rice.

Or, you can opt to use California rice or CalRose which is medium-grain rice but with similar texture and components like the Japonica.

What not to use is whole grain rice such as brown rice. Yes, they might have better nutritional benefits but they have tougher grains and it won’t make your sushi sticky.

#2 Not All Raw Fish are Sushi-Grade

sushi-grade fish

Using the wrong kind of fish also affects your sushi taste and quality. This is because not all raw fish you see can be made as sushi.

Instead, you might get bacteria from eating raw fish. Sushi chefs choose sushi-grade fish carefully. Meaning, the fish they choose are safe to prepare and eat even when eaten raw.

There are just a few kinds of seafood you can use for sushi making, here are a few:

  • Akagai or Surf clams
  • Hamachi or Yellowtail
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Snapper
  • Squid
  • Flounder or Halibut
  • Sea bass

They are then frozen at very low temperatures to eliminate bacteria and other harmful contaminants.

Another important thing to note here is that you should only buy these kinds of seafood in countries with the highest standard of cleanliness and should be parasite-free.

#3 Pre-made Sushi

It’s a big no-no when it comes to making sushi! Never make sushi when you cannot consume it right away because it will lose its texture, flavor, and overall quality.

Storing the pre-made sushi is also critical since most of the ingredients you used are raw. You might breed enough bacteria to make the whole house sick.

Better yet, prepare only enough ingredients for sushi that you can consume for the meal or the entire day.

Pre-made sushi will have to stiffen rice which is not tasty and soft to eat anymore.

#4 Not Rinsing Rice Properly

Although sushi requires rice to be sticky, having a bowl of super-sticky rice is also not good. Some of the videos I found suggested not to wash the rice but then, this is actually wrong.

The amount of stickiness needed in making sushi is very important. It should only be sticky enough to hold it together and not too sloppy.

What you can do is to rinse your sushi rice as many times you can under running water until it runs clear.

Don’t worry about its stickiness, short-grain Japonica rice has all the starch contents you need!

#5 Adding Too Much Filling

I am actually guilty of this! Who wouldn’t like a sushi roll full of your favorites?! I mean it’s exciting to eat, right? But hey, this is actually a mistake.

Adding too much filling will give you a hard time rolling that sushi. Worse case, you might end up with rolls splitting open.

Use a little bit of everything but never overstuff your sushi. Or, you can make different versions is you got more rice!

You can play around a lot of fillings:

  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Carrots
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • And many more…

#6 Never Mix Wasabi and Soy Sauce

Mix Wasabi and Soy Sauce

Every sushi has a bit of everything inside so do not put wasabi into your soy sauce like how we normally do.

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto says that sushi chefs also dabbed this green paste under the fish before serving so you don’t have to do it again.

There is actually a catch as to why he recommends not to mix wasabi and soy sauce.

Too much wasabi will overwhelm the entire sushi flavor and you might not taste the other dainty ingredients.

#7 One Sushi, One Bite

If you are one of those people who carefully bite sushi into two, well, here’s the bad news, you are eating it wrong!

When it comes to sushi-eating, it demands a one-sushi, one bite rule. This is to let you taste the explosive mix of all the ingredients, rice, rice vinegar, raw fish, and veggies.

Each sushi was designed to have a little bit of everything and the best way to taste all the ingredients is to eat a whole piece of it!

If you only bite it piece by piece, you wouldn’t actually taste the other ingredients properly since you get a different taste in every bite.

Step by Step Guide on How to Make Sushi

Now that you learned the 7 common sushi-making mistakes, let’s apply these learnings by making some delicious homemade sushi.

First up, you need to prepare your ingredients, which are:

  • A cup of Sushi rice
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of Rice vinegar
  • Half tablespoon of Granulated white sugar
  • A sheet of Nori (dried seaweed)
  • 300ml of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 or 2 oz of fish
  • Assorted fruits and veggies

Cooking Method:

  1. Cook the sushi rice. For best result, cook the rice in a rice cooker. If you want to achieve the perfect balance of the rice, you can rely on Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 rice cooker. It has a special cooking setting for sushi so you wouldn’t go wrong. A cup of sushi rice will yield 3 rolls of sushi.
  2. On a small or medium saucepan, heat up the vinegar, salt, and sugar. These ingredients will be the mixture of your sushi rice so make sure you measure the correct ingredients. Wait until the salt and sugar dissolve completely.
  3. When the rice cooked, let it cool before adding the seasoning mixture. The right temperature of the sushi rice also matters. Drizzle the mixture while gently stirring the rice. You can do this when the rice is warm enough to handle. Make sure the mixture is completely incorporated. Let it sit for a while.
  4. On the other hand, cut the fillings accordingly and assemble.
  5. Place the nori on a rolling mat with the shiny side facing down. Handle the nori with care since it’s quite delicate.
  6. At this point, you can now spread a layer of thin rice on top of the nori sheet. Pat the rice flatly
  7. Draw a shallow tunnel at the bottom part of the nori, you can divide it into 3 parts, so you can draw at the bottom third. This is a technique to make sure that the ingredients will fit together once rolled.
  8. You may now arrange your fillings according to your liking.
  9. Roll the sushi up starting from the bottom part. Apply light pressure to press and help it mold.
  10. Cut the sushi and serve!

Bonus Tips!

  • You can randomly wash your fingers with clean running water to avoid the rice from sticking
  • If you don’t have a special sushi knife, you can use an ordinary knife but before slicing the rolls, wet the knife with water to avoid rice from sticking too.
  • Avoid overfilling your sushi so you won’t have a hard time rolling it.

Cooking Sushi Rice is the Most Critical Part

Cooking Sushi Rice

Apart from the fresh ingredients, you can taste in sushi, the rice is actually the most critical component. That is why choosing the grains and cooking it is as sensitive as rolling your favorite appetizer.

I strongly recommend cooking sushi rice in a rice cooker because there is less room for mistakes. In fact, I suggest if you are still looking out for a rice cooker to consider Zojirushi NS-ZCC10.

It’s a versatile rice cooker with special cooking settings for various rice grains and this includes sushi rice. Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 is equipped with modern technology called Neuro Fuzzy-logic where the device will adjust the cooking itself to give you a bowl of perfect rice.

You no longer need to spend much time checking and adjusting the heat when cooking rice, you just simply measure the rice you want to cook, add the correct water level and voila!

Choosing the Right Rice Cooker

Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 rice cooker

A wise kitchen investment means that you have been practical with your decisions towards buying or getting a piece of new equipment.

What I like best about Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 are its overall design, features, and functions.

The spherical shape is very modern and designed for heat to distribute and cook the grains evenly. Plus, it can fit any countertop without occupying too much space.

It has a removable inner pot for cleaning as well as a detachable inner lid.

Who says you cannot cook other recipes in a rice cooker?

You can steam, boil, fry, and do a lot of cooking with this modern device.

How Long Does a Sushi Last?

Unfortunately, sushi does not stay for long. It is best to consume sushi right away after preparation.

The maximum time you can leave it at room temp is only 4 hours. Otherwise, it will smell foul and cause health issues.

You can dispose of right away to avoid contamination and food poisoning. Traditional sushi can last inside the fridge for 24 hours.

Although raw fish can last for 3 days inside the fridge, the taste and quality might be different from the fresh ones.

Plus, the rice quality also deteriorates when kept inside the fridge longer. If you are making sushi, prepare only enough rolls for the meal. Otherwise, don’t assemble and roll all the ingredients at once.

You can store each ingredient accordingly and prepare it for rolling the next time you crave for it.  Just remember, the fish needs exact temperature 😉

How to Tell if the Sushi is Spoiled?

How to Tell if the Sushi is Spoiled

We cannot avoid making too many sushi rolls especially when we’ve been craving for it for a few days.

However, you must consider that sushi does not stay longer like the other food out there.

If you got some leftovers, how can you tell if your sushi is still good to eat?

Here are a few signs to check:

  •  Smell – The first instinct we do when hunting the fridge is smelling every leftover we got in there. Good sushi does not have a foul odor. It’s best to consume sushi right away or within the next 4 hours.
  • Appearance – One thing to look out for is the appearance of the fish in the sushi. It should be glistening, translucent, and does not have any milky slime. The rice should be sticky yet firm and dried, bad sushi rice is almost melting with a slimy texture.
  • Touch – You know that sushi is still good to eat when the fish is still firm enough even when pressed.
  • Taste – If you already see signs of spoilage, don’t even attempt to taste it, throw it away immediately. But, if it does not, you can give a small bite to check if the taste has changed.

Remember, food poisoning should always be considered especially when handling raw food. Never trade practicality with your health.

Sometimes, we are too hard-headed to dispose of old food because we are saving a few pennies but little did we know that we are actually prone to bigger risks.


And that’s a roll! I mean a wrap! We have just learned the 7 common sushi-making mistakes we can avoid enjoying every bite!

Sushi-making is a form of art and we must be artsy enough to learn the basics of preparing this delicious food. From choosing the correct rice type, cooking the sushi rice properly, checking a sushi-grade fish, rice handling, fillings, sauces, and even eating!

Sushi is actually a simple dish to make although the preparation can be too overwhelming for beginners, but hey, this is a good article to start with!