Spicy Tuna Roll, Unagi Cucumber Roll, and Hamachi Sushi – Sushi is Not Football Food

unagi avocado roll, homemade sushi
“Come over?” he asked.

I hesitated.

“We can watch the game,” he said, trying to convince me.

I still didn’t answer.

“We’ll make food and eat,” he pressed.

Football and food. He almost had me. Just one more F word and…

“Sushi,” he concluded, thinking he was victorious.


He just struck out.

Sushi for football? I did that once and so very wrongly ended up with cream cheese. Cream cheese and football works if it’s a jalapeno popper, not sushi.

However, how on earth could I turn down a game on a screen so enormously enormous that not only could I see every glistening drop of perspiration on the players’ faces, but I could peer down into each and every pore? How? How could I?!

I couldn’t. I sacrificed nachos and pizza for Peyton’s tight end, bigger than life. I do that for the love of my life, you know.

The suggestion was to make sushi, perhaps during the pre-game. I love watching the game, but listening to four ex-players bark out opinions about who is going to win, lose, or draw makes me crazy. It’s almost as painful as watching Joan and Melissa’s Oscars pre-game.

Making sushi is not a problem for me since I have done it before, albeit with mixed success. However, it was his suggestion and he had never made it before, saying that he thought I knew how. Does that mean he expected me to make our dinner after he called me out?! I held my tongue. It was a challenge.

We went to Nijiya Market on Sawtelle to pick up the goods. The fish didn’t look fabulous, but I really didn’t think it would matter given that we were going to be hacking it anyway. Some of the bricks of tuna had an odd rainbow sheen, most of the hamachi had a dreadful, drab, dullness to them, and just about everything else had been picked over down to the dregs. We did the best we could, snapped up a frozen unagi, other condiments, and headed back.

I poured myself a cocktail while he made rice. If I was going to do the dirty work of rolling, 1) he had to prep, and 2) I had to marinate my senses. I was very well marinated by the time was ready.

hamachi nigiri sushi, homemade sushi
like fish visors

spicy tuna maki (roll) - homemade sushi
spicy tuna, stale sriracha

The details of the manufacture are unimportant. Let’s just say that the final product at the end of the line was as respectable as one could expect, and in fact, the plated presentation wasn’t ugly. Unagi and Cucumber Maki can never be bad unless the avocado is rotting and well, we didn’t even use avocado, we used cucumber. Tuna and Hamachi nigiri sushi looked less like sushi and more like lumpy rice balls with oddly shaped fish visors, and the Spicy Tuna had to be made with sriracha that was a deep dark mahogany color because it had been stored in the pantry instead of the refrigerator after opening. I didn’t risk a bite of the Spicy Tuna even though I made it. McDonald’s employees don’t have to eat their cheeseburgers either. I popped one slimy, gooey ikura and that was enough. I hate fish eggs.

ikura on spicy tuna

homemade sushi, plate
better than the pre-game

My Boy won.

I forgot about the sushi.

A Quickie Spicy Tuna “Recipe”

My first experience with spicy tuna was at a Japanese restaurant in, of all places, the high desert (about halfway between LA and Vegas; in other words, nowhere near the ocean). Despite its dubious context, that was the best spicy tuna roll I’ve ever had and I suspect it has to do with the obscene amounts of mayonnaise in it. I don’t actually like mayonnaise, so there had to have been other ingredients mixed in with the tuna that made the spicy tuna roll so remarkable — probably French fries, nacho cheese, and mango sorbet.

Our spicy tuna was a mixture of about 1 c. finely chopped sashimi-grade tuna, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, and more than a few abusive squeezes of a bottle of Hot Cock. At other times, I have added or substituted nanami togarashi (Japanese red pepper spice mix), sambal, or goh-choo-jahng (Korean red pepper paste). Finely chopped scallions and crushed sesame seeds are never a bad thing, and though I would never do such a thing, I swear I have tasted either sugar or honey in a restaurant spicy tuna roll at some point.

More Spicy Tuna Around the Web:
~ At the FoodNetwork, Tyler Florence’s Spicy Tuna Roll has mayonnaise,
~ Emeril Lagasse’s is inside out, and
~ Two Hot Tamales make their rolls spicy by adding hot chili oil to the rice instead of the tuna
~ About.com has a basic spicy tuna recipe, also with mayo, and togarashi

** this post originally published on 1.14.2007 **

** a year ago today, you better not have called me “grace” **
** two years ago today, i had lunch at santa maria bbq, but i didn’t blog about it. but i know i did because yes, i keep track of everything. yes, i am that scary. **

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 deewite March 15, 2007 at 5:08 am

I think the Peyton thing is beginning to turn off all your male admirers this post, hon.


2 sarah March 15, 2007 at 5:22 am

deewite: jealous, doll? come, come now. there’s no other deewite besides yooouuuuu ;)


3 off2cdwzrd March 16, 2007 at 3:59 am

wow! you are the only person i know with the cojones to actually make unagi sushi at home… i bow to you!

just out of curiosity, where do you stand on rolls made with soy paper? i have a high sensitivity to iodine and the seaweed involved in most rolls is just enough to send my itching and wheezing for the benedryl so i’m learning to ask for soy paper everywhere i go.

is it fair that most places charge $.50 to $1.00 more for soy paper???


4 Anonymous February 2, 2009 at 4:54 am

Honestly? He would’ve had me at sushi.

Yum. Sushi!



5 sarah j. gim February 2, 2009 at 5:11 am

amy: the problem is that i eat sushi regularly, so i *LIVE* for those excuses to eat pizza, nachos, French fries, nacho fries…wait what the hell am I saying? i don’t ever need an excuse.

I ate nachos last week for breakfast :)


6 lunettes February 2, 2009 at 6:49 am

As a current (and past) Longhorn, I am so burned out by football and the 250 pages I have to read for class tomorrow that I didn’t get to watch the game tonight. For shame.

A local, cheap college sushi joint (I know, I know) here in Austin does a seriously deep-fried sushi roll in some sort of spicy sauce (hroseradish? cayenne? who the hell knows.) and it is a.m.a.z.i.n.g. and so so wrong. now I want some.


7 sarah j. gim February 2, 2009 at 4:53 pm

lunettes – those gladiator rolls stuffed to overflowing with ingredients that aren’t natural to japan or anywhere for that matter, coated in industrial something, deep fried, then smothered with sauce should be banned.

but every once in a while, i don’t mind one either ;)


8 Jacob February 5, 2009 at 1:00 am

I don’t think you need to refrigerate siracha. Doesn’t say so on the bottle and I’ve never noticed a taste or color issue after storing an opened bottle, for months, in the pantry. Am I wrong? Do I need to be refrigerating this stuff??


9 Dawn February 12, 2009 at 3:25 pm

I would love to be able to say I eat sushi daily. I can’t, I live on cape cod, which by the way is right on the ocean–so you’d think we would have an abundance of sushi joints. Nope. So, seeing this post makes me cry.
This looks so darn good.


10 yixiaooo February 13, 2009 at 5:36 am

damn, you are one lucky woman.


11 yixiaooo February 13, 2009 at 5:36 am

damn, you are one lucky woman.


12 Enk April 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Just have to say, your posts make me laugh until I have tears streaming down my face. Thank you :D



13 Taln SG November 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I know this is an old posting, but I just found it – thanks to your mention in KoreAm.
Totally on board with it!!! My best friend loves football and Spicy Tuna; I am the unagai and hamachi sashimi addict. After one seriously misguided afternoon of the same scenario, he an I decided it was back to tex-mex and junk food for football games, and to leave our passion of sushi for more serious meals. Of course, a plate of gimmari or bowl of kimchi jiggae is my favorite compromise.


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