Devin Alexander’s Sweetheart Sushi

March 13, 2012

Devin's spicy tuna sushi recipe is always a huge hit at weddings, on special occasions or on Valentine's Day

Devin says: I developed this recipe years ago for a Sweetheart in my life who was blown away by it. I’ve since served it many times on Valentine’s Day, at Weddings and other super-special occasions. It’s always a huge hit.

Do not use leftover rice for sushi. It should always be made fresh and cooled, ideally for a couple of hours.

Save money by seeking out an Asian specialty market in your area. Not only will you find tons of unique prepared sauces and foods, key Asian ingredients like sushi rice, wasabi, soy paper and even Saki tend to be much less expensive when purchased there.

This recipe makes 4 rolls; 8 servings.

4 slightly packed cups freshly cooked sushi rice
(also known as “cal-rose” rice; it’s short grain white rice—you need about 1-1/2 cups rice and 2 cup water)
1-1/2 pounds sashimi-grade Ahi Tuna
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili paste (look for it in the Asian aisle of major grocery stores)
2 teaspoons hot sesame oil
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 (8 x 7-1/2 inch) sheets pink soy paper (or seaweed if you can’t find the soy paper)
Prepared wasabi (optional)
Soy sauce or ponzu sauce (optional)

Sushi mat

Allow cooked rice to cool to room temperature and transfer it to a medium bowl.
Meanwhile, chop the tuna into very small pieces.
Transfer it to a medium bowl and stir in the chili paste and sesame oil until well combined.
In a small bowl, stir the sugar and salt into the vinegar until it is dissolved.
Hold a wooden spoon over the bowl of rice and pour the vinegar so that it runs down the spoon and is evenly distributed over the rice.
Then stir the mixture. The rice should be sticky.
Next, place a sushi mat on a work surface so that the wooden sticks that comprise it run horizontally.
Place one sheet of soy paper on the sushi mat.
Run your hands under cool water, shake them off so they’re moist, but not dripping, then scatter ¼ of the rice (about 1 cup) evenly over the entire sheet of soy paper.
Press the rice in a thin even layer firmly over the soy paper so it is completely covered. (Remoisten your hands slightly if the rice starts to stick to them).
Spread 1/4 of the tuna mixture (about a heaping ¾ cup) over about ½ of the rice starting from the edge closest to you.
Press the tuna firmly into the rice. Then pick up the end of the rolling mat and soy paper closest to you and roll it tightly to the rice on the far side then continue to roll it so that the exposed rice wraps around the stuffed roll.
Transfer the roll to a cutting board.
Run a very sharp knife with a thin, straight blade under cold water.
Shake off any excess water then slice the roll into 12 equal slices.
Lay the sushi pieces out flat on the cutting board.
Picturing a piece of sushi as a clock, place it so that the seam is at 6:00. Then, pinch the edge at 6:00 to form the pointed end of a heart.
Then, use a toothpick to carefully press an indentation into the roll at 12:00 to form the top of the heart.
Lightly squeeze the sides at the bottom toward the point of the heart to press them into a “v”. Repeat with each remaining piece.
Then repeat the entire procedure 3 more times, using the remaining soy paper, rice, and tuna mixture.

Nutritional info per 6 piece serving: 231 calories, 23 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates (2 g sugar), 2 g fat, trace saturated fat, 46 mg cholesterol, <1 g fiber, 138 mg sodium

Devin travels the country lecturing and consulting for major U.S. food and cookware companies. She’s on the Advisory Board of the American Culinary Federation’s Chef Child Foundation, Larry King Foundation’s Go-To-Chef to speak on “Obesity in America”, she recently returned from the White House as part of Michelle Obama’s, Chefs Move To Schools Program; and we are proud to have her as a contributor to - you can find her recipes and tips every Tuesday and visit her at

Devin Alexander ©2004; Twitter: @Chef Devin