The first time we tried to make sushi it was a total disaster. There were bits of mushy rice all over our hands, work surfaces and in our hair. The maki rolls were loose and wobbly, and went straight in the bin. After that we hung up our roll mats and declared that Japanese food was all a bit too tricky.
Our first experience with Japanese cuisine is not so very unusual. It still seems to scare people a bit for its hard to get hold of ingredients and unfamiliar cooking techniques.
Things are getting a bit easier though. Most supermarkets stock basic sushi ranges, and a lot more people are having a go.
Here is a list of simple cheats to help get you started:
NO NEED TO ROLL
If you can't get hold of a roll mat, try making temarizushi. All you need for these little canapé-sized balls if a bit of cling film. Roll the sushi rice into balls, pop on your favourite topping then wrap in cling film like a parcel.
If you are worried about finding fresh enough fish, then don't bother. Smoked salmon, cooked crab or tuna mayo make great fillings too. Alternatively go down the veggie route and use cucumber, avocado, tofu, pickles or anything else you fancy. Here's a full list of sushi recipes.
Tempura dipping sauce, stir-fries and Japanese stews often call for a little mirin (sweet cooking alcohol). If you can't get your hands on any just use a half quantity of granulated sugar instead. A little maple syrup will do the trick too.
Teriyaki, marinades, sauces and stews often call for sake, but you can add dry sherry, white wine or Chinese rice wine instead.