Confession time: I’ve been spending way too much on sushi lately. So, I decided to revisit one of my very first Budget Bytes recipes from way back in 2010, Sushi Bowls. For most people, making sushi at home is a big “as if!” but I BET you can make these really easy sushi bowls. They’re not fancy, for sure, but they’ll kill your sushi craving without leaving you $30 in the hole.
DIY Sushi Bowls with Sriracha Mayo
What is in a Sushi Bowl?
This recipe is the most simple, least expensive version of sushi bowls. It has seasoned sushi rice, a few crunchy vegetables, nori (seaweed), and crab stick. You can jazz them up and make them more fancy as you see fit and as your budget allows.
Here are some other fun ingredients that can make your homemade sushi bowls more fancy:
- crispy tofu
- sashimi grade fish.
I used “crab stick” or imitation crab for my homemade sushi bowls, which is basically white fish that has been shaped and flavored to resemble crab. This is the same stuff that’s in your California roll and a lot of other Americanized sushi.
I also opted to buy a small pack of “nori snacks” this time around instead of a full package of full-sized nori (seaweed) sheets. These tasty little roasted and salted nori snacks have been showing up all over in grocery stores lately and it was just the right amount for my bowls. I got mine from Whole Foods and they easily had 10 different brands, all under $2/pack.
How to Store Sushi Bowls
These sushi bowls work really well for meal prep and stay good in the refrigerator for about four days. You definitely want to cool the rice as quickly as possible after cooking and before packing your sushi bowls. Cooked rice that stays warm for too long can pose a food safety hazard. So after seasoning the rice, spread it out on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish then refrigerate until cooled before packing it in your meal prep containers.
Sushi Bowls with Sriracha Mayo
- 2 cups short grain white rice ($2.48)
- 2 cups water ($0.00)
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar ($0.22)
- 2 Tbsp white sugar ($0.04)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 4 oz crab stick ($2.00)
- 1 carrot ($0.20)
- 1 cucumber ($0.79)
- 1 avocado ($0.99)
- 1 nori snack pack (0.36 oz.) ($1.69)
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds ($0.08)
SRIRACHA MAYO (optional)
- 4 Tbsp mayonnaise ($0.28)
- 2 Tbsp sriracha ($0.18)
- Place the uncooked short grain rice in a medium sauce pot. Cover with cool water, swish the rice around, then carefully pour off the cloudy water. Repeat this rinsing process 3-4 times. Finally, add 2 cups fresh water, place a lid on the pot, and place the pot over high heat. Allow the pot to come to a full boil, then turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the rice rest, undisturbed and with the lid in place, for 10 additional minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the toppings. Shred the crab stick, shred or julienne the carrot, slice the avocado, slice the cucumber, and break the nori into smaller pieces. Stir together the mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl.
- For the sushi rice dressing, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Microwave for 15-20 seconds to warm the mixture, then stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Once the rice is finished cooking, transfer it to a large bowl. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the vinegar dressing over the rice, then gently fold or stir the rice to combine. Repeat the process until all of the vinegar dressing has been incorporated into the rice and the rice has taken on a glossy appearance.
- To build your sushi bowls, place about 1 cup of the seasoned sushi rice in a bowl, then top with crab stick, carrot, cucumber, avocado, a few pieces of nori, a pinch of sesame seeds, and a drizzle of the sriracha mayo.
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.
Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Sushi Bowls – Step by Step Photos
A big part of getting your sushi bowls to actually taste like sushi is getting the rice right. Start with short grain white rice. These little grains have a high starch content and a very different texture than regular long grain white rice. Packaged sushi rice is usually a “specialty item” at regular grocery stores and can be quite expensive, so I suggest checking bulk bins (I got mine at Whole Foods), or better yet make a special trip to an Asian grocer. Place 2 cups of the uncooked rice in a medium sauce pot.
Add some cool water to the pot and swish the rice around until the water becomes cloudy. Carefully pour off the cloudy water. Repeat this process 3-4 times (the water may never end up completely clear, but that’s okay).
After rinsing and pouring off as much of the rinse water as possible, add 2 cups of fresh water, place a lid on the pot, and place it over high heat. Let the pot come up to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer on low for 15 minutes, then turn the heat off. Let it sit, with the lid in place, for an additional 10 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, mix up the sushi rice dressing. This “dressing” gives the rice its characteristic flavor and glossy appearance. Combine 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp white sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Warm the mixture in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to help the sugar dissolve. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.
It’s really important to use rice vinegar for the dressing. It has a much lighter flavor than other vinegars. It’s usually pretty inexpensive and can be used in SO many other Asian sauces and dressings, so it’s well worth the purchase.
Transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl and sprinkle about 1/4 of the vinegar dressing over the rice. Gently fold or stir the rice to distribute the dressing. Repeat this process until all of the dressing has been incorporated and the rice appears slightly glossy.
Prepare the rest of the sushi bowl toppings. I shredded my carrot, but you can julienne it if you prefer. I also sliced my avocado, shredded the “crab stick” and sliced the avocado, then cut it into quarters.
Crab stick is basically just white fish that has been shaped and flavored to resemble crab. This is the same stuff that is in most California rolls, as well as a bunch of other common American sushi rolls. I found this is the seafood area of the freezer section. I used half of this 8 oz. pack and froze the rest.
This is the little pack of nori snacks that I used. They’re basically mini nori sheets that are slightly thinner than the large nori sheets that are usually used for sushi. They’re also toasted, salted, and have a little bit of oil on them. They’re absolutely delicious on their own and make a nice addition to the sushi bowl. This little snack pack was only $1.69 and just the right size for my bowls (I don’t like having left overs haunting my pantry).
And they’re just pretty. 😍
Prepare a little sriracha mayo to go on the sushi bowls… Simply stir together 4 Tbsp mayo and 2 Tbsp sriracha. NOM.
Finally build your sushi bowls by starting with about 1 cup of the seasoned sushi rice, then adding some shredded crab stick (about 1 stick per bowl), sliced avocado, shredded carrot, sliced cucumbers, a few pieces of nori, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds…
And don’t forget some of that creamy and spicy sriracha mayo!
Bonus: sushi bowls are a little harder to pick up with chopsticks than rolled sushi, so you can’t inhale them quite as quickly. Take time and savor that flavor. ;)