By Alia Al-Chalabi

I love sushi, but I cannot figure out how to roll a tuna maki for the life of me. 

The art of cutting fish takes years to master, and I’m sure most sushi chefs would be appalled at the way I slaughter against the grain of a beautiful piece of fish. The same goes for sushi rice, which takes years to master, but I may as well start practicing now.

Fortunately, there is an answer to my issues: fresh tuna steak tossed in a delicious sauce, served with sushi rice. For the added “sushi roll effect,” I also love getting seaweed snacks from Trader Joe’s. 

Here’s my take on a deconstructed tuna maki.


  • ½ pound fresh tuna steak
  • 1 soft avocado 
  • 1 lime
  • Cilantro 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 small Persian cucumber 
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds 
  • 2 cups sushi rice (bagged)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package dried seaweed/nori snacks (optional)


  • Rice pot
  • Large glass bowl
  • Strainer
  • Shallow pie dish (to let the rice cool in)
  • Large plastic spoon
  • Small metal bowl


Most of the steps and assembly for sushi rice are on the back of the bag, but with some modifications and easier directions from me, this very complicated process shouldn’t be too hard to follow. 

Start by rinsing two cups of rice in the same pot it will be cooked in. Next, add in three cups of water. Let soak for 30 minutes with the lid on tight.

While the rice soaks, cut one soft avocado into small pieces and place in a large glass bowl. Add in one fresh squeezed lime, cilantro, sesame oil and soy sauce. 

Be sure to cut the cilantro into very fine pieces before adding to the mix. Then, cut the Persian cucumber into very small cubes, no larger than the size of a dime. Add the sesame seeds to the mixture for an added bite.

Next, cut the tuna steak into small cubes; it should look just like a beautiful bowl of poke. Add the tuna to the same glass bowl used previously, and toss all the ingredients together. Let sit in the fridge until the rice is finished soaking.

Going back to the rice, take the soaking rice-water mixture to a boil over medium heat. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and let steam for about 20 minutes. This may take less time if it boils for too long. Also, while this is not generally recommended, removing the lid from the pot and stirring it prevents the rice from sticking to the bottom. 

While the rice simmers, take a small metal bowl and mix together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Place on a stove top set to medium heat until the sugar and salt dissolve completely into the vinegar. Place aside.

Make sure to do this over the stove, and do not microwave under any circumstances. 

Once the rice seems like it has a good texture, cover with a lid and let steam for 10 minutes. Then, add the rice to the shallow glass pie dish. Take the vinegar mixture, tossing into the rice with the large plastic spoon in the vinegar. Now you have sushi rice.

Plate the rice, tuna and optional nori snacks and enjoy this delicious (but complicated) dish!