Don't Own A Sushi Mat? Use Parchment Paper Instead

Who doesn't like sushi? It's a delicious, versatile dish that allows everyone to find something they like — whether that's traditional rolls with fish or vegetarian options that rely heavily on the balance of texture and flavor to make up for the lack of fish. 

Sushi first became popular in the United States in the 1960s, with the opening of LA's first sushi bar, Kawafuku. The ever-popular California roll traces its history back to the same period. It then grew in popularity across the country in the 70s and 80s, before becoming the regular date night staple it is today. Sushi is popular with good reason, but it's often reserved for restaurants and takeout. It's a daunting undertaking for the home cook, from prepping the rice and ingredients to having a sushi mat on hand to form the rolls.

The good news is you can make sushi at home, without a fancy bamboo mat, and you won't even be able to tell the difference.

This sushi hack is already in your pantry

If you're a sushi fan, you've probably watched a chef gently and firmly use a bamboo mat to roll up the seaweed, rice, and fillings that make up any combination of maki rolls. Making sure the roll is tight and even is key to making sure the sushi stays together when cut — and when eaten. But not everyone wants to buy their own sushi mat, especially if they don't plan to make it often or are operating with a small kitchen space.

There are many different types of sushi, but perhaps the most recognizable is the maki roll, and the internet is full of tips on how to make them. The secret to making perfect maki rolls in the comfort of your own kitchen isn't a dish towel or cling wrap, but it's probably already in your pantry — parchment paper.

That's right! The tool you use to make the perfect cookies is the key to unlocking sushi whenever you want.

Parchment paper makes it easy

Parchment paper makes the best replacement for those bamboo sushi mats not only because you likely already have it on hand, but also because it's naturally nonstick. That means you can also make inside-out rolls (with the rice on the outside) and can skip the layer of cling wrap.

Cut a piece of parchment that is slightly larger than the sheet of nori you're using. Layer your rice and fillings on the seaweed and get ready to roll! The key to a nice maki roll is using consistent pressure as you use the parchment to roll it up.

It may take a couple of tries before you're feeling confident, but that's okay. As much as preparing sushi is an experience, the more important experience is eating it, and that should be fun.

As Chef Mitsuhiro Araki told Tatler Asia, "Sushi is a finger food!" And then the chef shares, "I recommend using your hands to feel the textures." Sushi is about using your hands to make and enjoy something really special. So get out that parchment paper and get going.