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Lake Superior-style Sushi

Eat Wisconsin Fish / Lake Superior-style Sushi

Looking for a date night or family fun centered around food? Lake Superior-style sushi might be the recipe for you!

Sushi rolls on a wooden board.

Recipe courtesy of Ryan and Courtney Lepak.


Note: Undercooked and raw fish can carry parasites that are harmful to humans. When using non-sushi grade fish … especially fresh fish from freshwater … make sure it is smoked, cooked or that it has been frozen at or below -4°F (-20°C) for 7 days (total time). Alternatively, make sure the fish has been frozen at or below -31°F (-35°C) until solid plus another 24 hours at -4°F (-20°C) or below. See the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines for details.


Blackened seasonings are commercially available or you can make your own to reduce salt and enhance the flavor profile with. Ryan’s blackened seasoning is made by mixing (all dry ingredients): 2 tbs paprika, 1tbs cayenne (or more if you like it hot), onion powder, and garlic powder; 1 tsp salt and pepper; ½ tsp basil, oregano and thyme. Store in a spice shaker.

Makes about 7 rolls.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 c. rice (brown or jasmine, not instant)
  • ¼ c. rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp honey (or sugar)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • sushi nori
  • clarified butter
  • about 1 lb. fish, cooked, smoked or both
  • about 2 lb. chopped fruits and vegetables
  • A variety of sauces

Optional: cream cheese, pickled ginger, wasabi paste, tamari or soy sauce, miso soup


Rinse rice until water is not cloudy. Cook as directed.

Warm the rice vinegar. Mix in honey (or granulated sugar) and salt. When the ingredients are dissolved, remove from heat. Gently fold vinegar solution into rice, ideally on a flat sheet pan with a wooden spoon. Cover with a damp paper towel if the rice will sit for more than an hour. Cool in refrigerator. 


Smoked fish: Separate from bones and flake into a bowl.

Cooked fish: For sushi, you can cook your raw fish in a variety of ways and to your liking.

The blackened trout shown in the video was prepared as follows:

  • Heavily dust the meat side of the filet with blackened seasoning.
  • Let the filet rest until the seasoning is properly wetted.
  • Heat a pan and add butter (preferably clarified butter, which won’t burn as easily). Do not use oils with a low smoke temperature or strong flavor.
  • When the butter is searing hot, nearly smoking, place the filet into the pan, skin side up. Burn the flavor in for several minutes until a black crust is formed.
  • Gently flip the filet and turn down the temperature or place in the oven at 300°F until the fish is cooked to your preferred level.
  • Let cool to room temperature. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Sushi chefs often use sweet-savory or sweet-spicy pairings. Sushi fillings shouldn’t be too watery as excess liquid will compromise the rolls.

Go for flavor and color with finely chopped things like: carrots, red onions,  jalapeños, apples, mangos, a tomato with pulp removed, limes, fresh garlic.


Traditional: Siracha, hot sauce, oyster sauce, plum sauce, eel sauce (not made from actual eels), teriyaki.

You can also make your own dipping sauces such as spiced soy sauce (soy sauce with added garlic, sesame oil and sriracha) or those in our sauce collection such as Sriracha Mayo Sauce.

Roll ’em

Affordable sushi rolling mats can be found online. Having a wooden roller and wooden spoon is helpful. Place dry sushi nori onto the dry wooden roller, shiny side down. Spread a thin layer of cooled sushi rice on about ¾ of the sheet while leaving the top portion completely clean – this will help make a tighter seal. Place your fish about an inch from the bottom. Only an ounce or two is needed. Add your crazy concoction of fruits, vegetables and sauces while thinking about pairing flavors and textures. Roll up, seal with a touch of water and place in the fridge. Do not overload your rolls or they will become too large and fragile. If you are engaged in a challenge, use different plates or toothpicks to keep track of who made the roll.

Bring the chilled rolls out, have a thin very sharp knife ready and a cup of water. To help with slicing, dip the knife in water so it is slightly damp. Slice and create a decorative platter to share. Pair with miso soup, a collection of sauces, wasabi and pickled ginger

An extra something ….Miso soup

4 c. of fish stock, 1/3 c. miso, vegetables like mushrooms and spinach, top with fresh cut green onions.

If feeling extra adventurous, make your own fish stock. Warm stock then add miso (gently stir in) and finish with the veggies of choice cooked at your preferred level (along with tofu if preferred). Scrap chunks of fish including cheeks and belly can be added. Once satisfied with temperature and vegetables, add fresh green onions as garnish. Note: some people add a little soy sauce