Sushi night at home.

In April of 2012, I embarked on a personal challenge called the Day Zero Project. To participate, I came up with 101 things to accomplish within 1001 days. More than one thousand days felt like a really long time- plenty of time to complete my first Life List. Well, not surprisingly, Father Time rolls on far more quickly than we’d sometimes like. I have about three months left to finish up about 70 things that aren’t fully crossed off. No pressure.

The good news is that many of those things are in progress and not all that difficult to accomplish (if I focus). I already see that many items will not get done within my timeline, but that’s ok, too- for each item that I can’t get done, I’ll be donating $10 to a charity. But the over-achiever in me is on a mission to cross as much off of the list as I can!

The first section of the list involves my happy place: the kitchen. I’ve made homemade pizza dough and a few types of ice cream. I’ve made tofu in a couple of delicious ways. I’ve done a great job at trying at least one new recipe per week and taking (too many) photos along the way. And we successfully tackled #7 last week: have a sushi night with homemade rolls. We had a beautiful sashimi-grade tuna steak on hand. When we visit our favorite sushi restaurant in Salt Lake (Tsunami), we always start with spicy tuna hand rolls with jalapeno. We did our best to replicate them. I started by cutting the tuna in little chunks. A sharp knife really helps here!

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In Tsunami’s hand rolls, the tuna is mixed with some kind of spicy dressing. To make ours, I simply combined John’s habanero sauce with a little bit of mayonnaise. I stirred it into the tuna chunks, along with fresh chopped chives from our garden.

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I sliced a jalapeno into long strips, just like they do at the restaurant. Since we didn’t have any sushi rice (oops), I sliced a cucumber in the same way to add to the rolls for more crunch and substance.


To assemble the hand rolls, I cut a piece of nori (dried seaweed) in half using scissors. I piled some of the saucy tuna mixture on one half of the nori, then added strips of jalapeno and cucumber. To roll them in the signature funnel shape, I started with the bottom left corner and just started rolling around the tuna. I tucked the nori under the roll and admired my handiwork. Not far off from what we’d order at a restaurant!

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Since we had so much of the tuna steak left, I made a soba noodle-veggie stir-fry with seared tuna. To start, I prepared the soba noodles, which are like spaghetti but made of buckwheat. Then I combined some store-bought wasabi cream with a little soy sauce and drowned the tuna steak with it, adding a hefty amount of sesame seeds on top.

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I chopped plenty of colorful veggies and sautéed them in our big wok. When they were tender but still a bit crunchy, I added a mixture of soy sauce, olive oil, Sriracha, ginger, honey, sesame oil, and lime juice. Then I added the soba noodles and used tongs to combine everything.

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John cooked the tuna in a pan on high heat, just seared on both sides. He sliced it thinly and we placed it over bowls of veggie-soba deliciousness, with a drizzle of wasabi cream and our spicy tuna hand rolls on the side. Beautiful!

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I loved the crunch from the cucumber in the hand roll, and the jalapeno and habanero mayo gave it the perfect heat we like. It wasn’t a duplicate of Tsunami’s version, but it was close! The veggies in the soba noodle dish had a bite to them, and the dressing was a perfect sweet-salty-spicy combination. The tuna itself was the star- a hint of wasabi and soy but the flavor of the fish really came through, which is what you want with such a beautiful piece of tuna. Scrumptious!

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We have lots of nori left over, so there may be more sushi rolls in our future. You know, along with the homemade pasta, pie crust, and home-baked bread I have to figure out in the next three months… Stay tuned!

Spicy Tuna Hand Rolls

You’ll need:

  • Sashimi-grade ahi tuna
  • Nori (dried seaweed) sheets
  • Mayonnaise
  • Habanero hot sauce
  • Chopped chives
  • Jalapeno in long slices
  • Cucumber in long slices

With a very sharp knife, chop the tuna into small chunks. In a small bowl, combine a squirt of mayonnaise with habanero hot sauce to taste. Starting with a small amount, mix the spicy sauce into the tuna chunks until coated to your liking. Stir in the chives and set aside.

Cut a sheet of nori in half using scissors. Scoop some of the tuna mixture onto the left half and top it with a couple slices each of jalapeno and cucumber. Starting at the very bottom left corner, roll the nori around the tuna in a cone shape, tucking the nori underneath. Dip into soy sauce and serve with pickled ginger on the side. YUM!

Seared Tuna over Asian Soba Noodles and Veggies

You’ll need:

  • 1/3 package of soba noodles
  • Sashimi-grade ahi tuna steak (at least one inch thick)
  • Prepared wasabi spread and dashes of soy sauce (for tuna)
  • Sesame seeds
  • 2 cups chopped veggies (I used snap peas, red onion, carrot, bell pepper, and cucumber)
  • 1/3 cup frozen edamame, thawed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha

Soba noodles usually come in a package divided into three sections of noodles. Prepare 1/3 of the noodles according to package directions and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine a squirt or two of the wasabi spread and a few dashes of soy sauce. Pour it over the tuna and turn to coat both sides. Sprinkle a generous amount of sesame seeds over the tuna and set aside.

In another small bowl, combine the ginger, soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, sesame oil, honey, and Sriracha. In a swirl of olive oil on high heat, sauté the veggies, edamame, and garlic. When the veggies are just tender, pour the dressing over them and cook a few minutes more. Add the soba noodles and toss to combine.

Heat more oil in a pan over high heat. Place the tuna steak, sesame seed side down, in the pan and cook for 2 minutes (for medium rare tuna). Sprinkle more sesame seeds on the tuna. Flip and sear the other side for 2 minutes. Remove and slice in thin slices. Serve in bowls over the soba noodles and veggies with a drizzle of wasabi cream over the top. Cheers to sushi night at home. YUM!

Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page

One year ago: We were about to celebrate birthday #2 for our crooked-eared fur-baby!


  1. First of all I love the challenge you gave yourself! And second, the sushi looks amazing. This is something I have always wanted to do, but my husband is allergic to shellfish, limiting some of the dishes I can make. I always fear I will have way too much food for the family or not enough after spending hours doing the prep work. Now, however, I want to give it a try!

    1. It’s been a challenge for me over the years to learn to cook for just the two of us. We definitely often have leftovers and luckily, John doesn’t mind that! There are other fish you could try besides shellfish- or just a veggie version would be fun. Try it!

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