Department of Obvious Department, Sushi Version
April 10, 2011 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Best practices for leftover sushi?

So I love sushi and I love to make it. I pretty much only make vegetarian nori maki rolls--standard rolls of nori seaweed, sushi rice and filling. Sometimes I make inari or onigiri, but this question is specifically about the rolls. I use various fillings, but they are always vegetarian/vegan. And I *always* have leftover, unsliced rolls because I want to eat it the next day for lunch or was being an overly ambitious sushi roller.
HOWEVER refrigeration is not kind to the rolls and I find myself, next day, thinking "meh", where the night before I was thinking "YAY!". The rice texture changes and gets weird. So my question is this: how are leftover vegetable sushi rolls best stored in order to preserve maximum YAY factor? Is it even possible? I desperately want to have yummy veggie sushi leftovers!
Googling has brought me a variety of answers about sushi containing fish but these are useless to me.
posted by hecho de la basura to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The main issue is the hard rice, I'm assuming? I'm not sure there's a great way to store this aside from just keeping the ingredients separately and (e.g.) microwaving the rice with a spritz of water the next day and reassembling.

Onigiri, from what I've seen in shops, generally seem to be stored outside of refrigeration and does not have this same issue. (They are, of course, to be consumed the same day) Since you're using vegetable ingredients, maybe this is an option?
posted by jangie at 4:20 PM on April 10, 2011

What kind of rice are you using? Sushi usually uses short-grained rice, which doesn't get that icky texture that I usually associate with leftover chinese takeout. It's possible, though, that those rolls just don't hold up well after a couple hours. Otherwise, sushi places would just have zillions of rolls to order, rather than having to make everything to order, as is currently done.
posted by Jon_Evil at 4:20 PM on April 10, 2011

Are you wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap? Preventing the rice from drying out is key.

I also think it helps to let them sit out at room temperature for a while before eating. Ice cold sushi is not delicious.
posted by something something at 4:32 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

FWIW, 15 years in Japan, never once seen anybody eat second-day sushi. Some things just don't work.

(They do seem not to mind cold tempura, though, which still boggles my mind.)
posted by zachawry at 4:43 PM on April 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

Nthing keep the sushi--the rice--moist and not dried out. On a recent AA flight to Japan they served sushi that was awful. The reason? Rice was as dry as a bone; it tasted like cardboard. Simply wrapping it in saran wrap might do the trick, and since you're just using nori and rice, you could probably keep it at room temperature for a while. I'm guessing the vinegar in the rice will help keep the bacteria away, at least for a while. A refrigerator will just dry it out all the more.
posted by zardoz at 4:43 PM on April 10, 2011

cover it with a wet towel in the fridge which should keep the rice moist overnight.
posted by any major dude at 4:43 PM on April 10, 2011

I would leave the leftover ingredients separate and either prepare them the next day or make something easy like hand rolls.

Soggy chewy seaweed is not appetizing and the rice needs to be warmed up before eating.
posted by wongcorgi at 5:04 PM on April 10, 2011

I would either wrap real tight in plastic and then place it NOT in the coldest section of my refrigerator.

To be honest, I would not do 2nd day sushi. Onigiri is the best option and even in Japan those were covered in plastic when you went to get them at the Lawson or local equivalent.

Sushi rice was developed as a preservative so you do not especially need to refrigerate it and since you are not using fish you have even less pressure to do so. Your sushi rice, it does have the vinegar/sugar dressing, yes? If so, then you can leave it out but covered.

I agree upthread, keep things separate until you make either onigiri or a handroll.
posted by jadepearl at 5:21 PM on April 10, 2011

Thank you for all your answers! In the future I will just try not making too much but should there be leftovers I will try to microwave the roll for 15 seconds.

It does make sense that in sushi restaurants the rolls are made to order on the spot. I had never thought of that before, so my title is apt! It's obvious that some things just don't work. I am also going to try just not refrigerating leftover rolls in the future. This would work particularly well if I use salted/vinegared vegetables as my filling and I'm aiming at having sushi for lunch the next day.
Thanks again!
posted by hecho de la basura at 7:28 PM on April 10, 2011

We have sushi shops here that make rolls in the morning and sell them all throughout the day. It's a popular form of fast food. One thing I've noticed is that the fridge case they keep them is not super cold. It's chilled, but a much higher temperature to my home refrigerator. When you buy a roll, the rice is not really cold all throughout, just slightly chilled.

I have bought vegetarian rolls in the morning, kept them on my desk (in my air conditioned building), and eaten them for afternoon tea and been fine. I tend to be somewhat laid back about food safety though. I might try two things: refrigerate the leftover rolls overnight, remove in the morning when you take them to work and then leave them unrefrigerated during the morning so they warm up to room temperature. If the rice is still icky, I would probably try leaving them unrefrigerated the whole time - it's only 18 hours or so, right?. But I'm okay experimenting to see if I get sick, so YMMV.
posted by mosessis at 8:33 PM on April 10, 2011

The worst thing about buying "sushi" in North American supermarkets is that it's kept in a refrigerated display case in the store.

Rice should never be refrigerated; when chilled it becomes "pasa pasa", or dry and tasteless. You can keep rice in a rice cooker on a countertop for a couple of days, so I see no reason why you can't leave your sushi out on the counter overnight (as long as there is no raw fish).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:11 PM on April 10, 2011

If you have leftovers and can't bear to part with them, what my mother and I do is refrigerate them overnight; the next day we dip them in a beaten egg and pan fry it (making sure to cook through the filling--veggies or fish). It makes it infinitely more palatable. We do this with sushi and kimbap.

Otherwise, I normally pick out the filling and throw the rice and nori away, because it's not worth the hard, crumbly (and sad) excuse for rice.

Disclaimer: I am not afraid of expired food. I also love eating leftovers.
posted by sums at 11:55 AM on April 11, 2011

Onigiri, from what I've seen in shops, generally seem to be stored outside of refrigeration and does not have this same issue.

Where I live in NYC, some shops have special plastic wrappers for the onigiri that cover the seaweed on both sides, which looks very odd at first. After you pull on a tab and slide the plastic pieces out, only then does the rice touch the seaweed, because, as someone noted above, soggy, chewy seaweed is unpleasant.
posted by kathryn at 6:51 AM on April 12, 2011

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