(Chicago) – A few weeks ago, my friend Jeremy threw a fabulous housewarming party to showcase his newly renovated abode in Chicago.  I had seen his place even before the renovation started and I can say that the transformation was spectacular.  The hardwood floor is really neat and the kitchen, with all its new cabinetry, appliances and backsplash, is stellar.  For sure, a big chunk of Jeremy’s budget went to the kitchen and I think the result is worth every penny. However, the kitchen backsplash was not the only thing that bedazzled the guests that evening; a banquet of sushi outshined everything else.

Yes, the sushi was the star of the night.  An array of sushi rolls sat atop the pristine white quartz island and pierced through the Zen-like serenity of the brand-new kitchen. What made this sushi more special? It was not ordered from some Japanese restaurants.  A close friend, Ben, molded the sushi creatively with his own hands at the speed of a professional sushi master.  I tried to help but I couldn’t resist staring at his quick hands while building the rolls. Perhaps, he didn’t need some assistance.  I just took my camera instead, captured some pictures of his creation and initiated a conversation to extract some insight on how he learned this craft.  Ben narrated some stories and obliged to share the recipe for his superb home-made sushi.


  • 3 cups Japanese rice
  • 3 cups water or more
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Dried seaweed sheet
  • Bamboo mat
  • Filling (cucumber, avocado, crab sticks, unagi (teriyaki eel), carrot, salmon, tuna or anything you like)


  1. Cook rice according to package direction
  2. Mix rice vinegar, sugar and salt in sauce pan on low heat until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Spread the rice on a non-metallic plate or tray and sprinkle the vinegar mixture. Mix gently and beware not to smash the rice.
  4. Place a seaweed sheet on top of bamboo mat and spread thin layer of rice on top.
  5. Flip the seaweed sheet so it goes on top and rice at the bottom
  6. Put combination of fillings horizontally
  7. Roll up the mat, fold it over into a cylinder and press gently to a get a good roll shape
  8. Remove sushi roll from mat, place on a cutting board and slice
  9. Serve fresh with Kikkoman and some mighty wasabi on the side

The house was fantastic, friends were gathered and boost was overflowing.  All the party elements were present but what bound everything together was the food.  It christened the house to a different degree of warmth and brought a higher level of joy to the owner, re-affirming tangibly that the effort and pains of home ownership are all worth it.




In each case, the most respectful, fully attentive, and deeply engaged response of those present might be urgent vastly different.