10 Common Sushi making Mistakes

10 Common Sushi Making Mistakes for Beginners

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Making sushi may seem simple, right? After all, you only need to prepare some sticky rice, season it with vinegar and then roll it with raw fish, vegetables or any other topping. Well, this is easier said than done.

Sushi is a delicious dish, but if you make even the slightest mistake when making it, you will not like the results. You will end up with a nasty tasting dish or mess in your kitchen.

I have been making sushi for quite some time and have learned all the tricks to making it. I have made mistakes throughout my sushi making journey which have made me perfect my skills in making it. The mistakes we make in life today makes one a better person tomorrow if you correct them. Well, how can you correct a mistake you don’t know about?

Below are ten mistakes that many people including me make when preparing sushi. Learning about these common sushi making mistakes will help you to become better in preparing these delicious dishes.


1. Using the Wrong Rice

This is the most common mistake that you will find most people making when preparing sushi. Some will pick any rice to make sushi as long as it is sticky. Well, this is a mistake you don’t want to make.

Sushi is usually short grain. This rice has high starch levels which makes it sticky. Again you should never use brown rice in sushi making. Although most people consider whole rice as more healthy compared to its white counterpart, when it comes to making sushi, using brown rice is a big NO.

Brown rice has a tougher texture which means it won’t sticky easily. You need sticky rice if you want to make your favorite sushi. So, if you want to get right in sushi making, stick to short grain rice only.

2. Getting it Wrong When Cooking the Rice

Even if you have the right sushi rice (short grain), if you fail to cook it correctly, it will mess with your sushi dish. You may not even end up with a sushi dish at all.

When cooking sushi rice, you need to know when it’s done. The grains of the rice should remain intact after cooking. It should be sticky but not feel gummy when chewing it. If you end up with gummy sushi rice, then it means you have not cooked it well enough. Cook it for a little longer.

When chewing the rice, it should not be too heavy in your mouth. If you happen to experience this and then you are left with a clinging presence in your mouth, this is a sign of overcooked sushi rice. This means you need to reduce cooking time. You can click here to learn more about how you can make your sushi rice more sticky.

3. Using Wrong Fish Topping

If you will be using raw fish as your topping in making sushi, don’t make the mistake of picking any other fish you find in the grocery. Remember the fish will be eaten raw, right? That means there are high chances of consuming bacteria and other contaminants that may cause you ill effects.

You should avoid picking any ordinary fish that you come across. It should be sushi-grade fish meaning it is safe to prepare and eat in its raw form. The fish should be frozen at extremely low temperatures. When I say low temperatures, I mean very, very temperatures to ensure any bacteria or other toxic organism are eliminated and make the fish safe for consumption.

Don’t make the washroom your temporal residing after taking sushi because of food poisoning caused by bacteria in the fish. Avoid making the mistake of using the wrong fish in your sushi making.

Related article: Can You Make Sushi From Frozen Salmon?

Tips to choose a Sushi-Grade Fish

You can either choose a fresh fish or a frozen one. If you choose to buy a fresh fish check the following to ascertain its freshness:

  • Its smell – A sushi-grade fish should be almost odorless. A smelly fish is an indicator of danger in waiting if you choose to use it in making sushi.
  • Eyes and Gills – The eyes should be clear, and the gills should be red. If you find one with pale pink gills, then it’s not fit for sushi making.

If you choose to pick a frozen fish, ensure it is heavily iced. This will guarantee its safety and minimize the risk of consuming a poisonous fish. These fishes are sold at a relatively low price compared to the fresh ones which make them an ideal way to go if you want to save on cost.

4. Adding too Many Fillings

Adding too many ingredients is another mistake that many people make when preparing sushi. At one time, I used to be one of those people. I used to put too much filling and would always have trouble. Rolling up is not easy when you have too many ingredients.

Worse still, your rolls may split open when you are done rolling which will put you back to square one. If you must add various ingredients to your sushi, use a little bit of everything. Just don’t make the mistake of overstuffing your sushi. I recently spent amount of time writing an article about 30 Good Ideas for Sushi Roll Fillings. I think you guys will enjoy reading it.

5. Using too Much Rice

Using too much rice in making sushi is a mistake many people make. To obtain well-rolled sushi, avoid overloading rice. 

6. Pre-making sushi

Don’t make the mistake of making your sushi if you are ready to consume it immediately. Sushi will lose its intense flavor with time. That means if you keep it for a long time, you will not enjoy taking it at all. Sushi rice will also stiffen with time as it dries.

Besides the hardening effect of the sushi rice, if cooked rice is left mixture with other sushi ingredients is left at room temperature, it forms a good habitat for bacteria called Bacillus cereus. This is a food poisoning bacteria can have a devastating effect when consumed.

Even if you should avoid pre-making sushi, what should you do when you have left-overs? If such unavoidable circumstances occur, there is a way to keep your sushi to eat later. However, it won’t be as good as it should have been when fresh. Read this article for how to use leftover sushi rice besides making sushi

7. Using too Much Soy Sauce

Using too much shoyu or soy sauce is another mistake that many people make when making sushi. This mistake can mess up everything about your sushi dish. One, it can overpower the taste of the fish hence mess up with the flavor of your sushi.

Sauces can make your roll too wet to hold together. Your sushi rice will fall apart meaning you won’t have sushi at all. To avoid messing up your sushi with the shoyu, you should dip only a small part of the fish into it.

Avoid dipping the rice to avoid making it too wet. This will give you the seasoning effect you are looking to get without causing disintegration of your rice.

8. Mixing Wasabi into Your Soy Sauce

This is one of the mistakes I used to make when I started making sushi. I liked the zing that wasabi gave my sushi dishes while at the same time liked soy sauce. I mixed the sauce with a slight wasabi paste and then dipped my sushi.

I did this for some time until I noticed a difference in my sushi dish. Mixing the two makes the sharp flavor of wasabi dull. This is something you don’t want to happen to your sushi. The fun of taking wasabi is getting the strong flavor it has to add zing to your plate. So, avoid mixing it with soy sauce.

9. Failure to rinse the rice properly

How do you rinse your sushi rice? This rice is processed before packaging and also contains added starch powders. The rice may also contain preservations which even if they are not harmful, they may cause some stomach discomfort if consumed.

Failing to rinse your rice properly maybe the reason you are getting syrup-like rice that won’t be any use in making sushi. You should rinse your rice as many times as possible until you get clear water.

10. Mistakes in rolling the sushi

Having the right items to roll your sushi is another place that many people fail. You ensure you have a rolling bamboo mat (click to see my favorite sushi making kits) with you to hold and roll your sushi easily. Applying too much pressure when pressing the roll is another mistake many people make. You should press gently to avoid making out of shapes rolls or even the ingredients coming out of the roll.

Using the wrong knife or even if you have a good knife like this you use it wrongly is another mistake made by many people when making sushi. You should keep your knife sharp and moist because using a dry knife will make the rice stick on it and the roll to fall apart.


I have looked around in the local groceries and supermarkets and haven’t found any of the recommended sushi rice. So, are there Alternatives for Sushi Rice?

Well, if you can’t find either short grain rice like this but still want to enjoy a sushi dish, there is a way out. However, your dish won’t have the same quality you would have when using sushi rice. Here are some considerations to assist you to pick a good alternative for sushi rice:

  • Stick to white rice only. Don’t pick brown rice for your sushi making regardless of its nutritional benefits.
  • Avoid rice with glutinous, sticky or sweet labels. They will most likely become sticky that necessary when you cook them.
  • Avoid picking parboiled rice because it has already undergone boiling processes which makes it less sticky than it should be to hold together.
  • Avoid rice that separates after cooking. In making sushi, you need rice that will stay together after cooking. You need rice that is not too sticky but also a little bit sticky to prepare your sushi dish.

How does sushi-grade fish differ from the ordinary fish? Can’t any fish do in the sushi making?

As stated above, using the wrong fish is one of the mistakes many people in making sushi.  To answer the second question, you only stick to sushi-grade fish only. On how this type of fish differs from the ordinary fish, how this is treated right from catching to transportation and storage is different from that of ordinary fish.

All this is done in a different approach to ensure bacteria level is minimized to avoid poisoning. Remember you will be eating it raw which means there has to be a way to reduce bacteria level.

Additional information: How To Choose Salmon For Sushi?

How long can my sushi last? I made it in excess and wondering whether I can keep it overnight.

If you want to enjoy all the qualities of a sushi dish, it’s best you eat it immediately after preparing. Otherwise, you can leave it for a maximum of 4 hours at room temperature. If you have to keep it longer than this, refrigerate it to avoid contamination.

Related Article: How Long Do California Rolls Last In The Fridge?


So, which one of the above mistakes are you making when preparing sushi? Or are you new to sushi making? Well, you have a guide on the most common sushi making mistakes and how to correct them.

When I first made sushi, it wasn’t the best dish. However, I have made mistakes and learned from them along the way which has made me become a pro in making sushi. Keep on practicing, and you will improve with time. Better for you there is a guide to help you along the way. For me, I was all alone.

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