Sushi makes a great, versatile backcountry meal. Sushi prepared ahead of time is a quick and elegant meal on the first night of a trip. Or, you can carry ingredients to whip up a gourmet sushi feast mid-camping trip.

Enjoy Sushi on Your Next Camping Trip

Although some sushi combinations use raw fish, there are many others that use an array of ingredients ranging from cooked fish to vegetables. Nori maki is made by placing sushi rice on top of a thin sheet of dry, roasted seaweed called nori, adding some fillings and rolling it up. The roll is then sliced into pieces and served with four other essential ingredients: soy sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi horseradish paste, and sake (rice wine) or green tea.

several rolls of sushi
Sushi prepared ahead of time is a quick and elegant meal on the first night of a camping trip. | Feature photo: iStock

The pickled ginger, wasabi, green tea and nori leaves are available in most grocery stores. Pickled ginger often comes in small plastic pouches that are easy to pack. The sake can be purchased at most liquor stores.


You can buy special sushi rice but any short grained rice will work in a pinch—Kokuho Rose is a common brand. Boil the rice according to the instructions on the package (typically three cups water to two cups rice). Remove rice from heat and let cool covered with a damp cloth. Don’t worry, the rice is supposed to be sticky. Mix 4 tbsp of sugar with 4 tbsp rice vinegar and 2 tsp salt and heat gently until sugar and salt are dissolved, then cool and mix with the rice. Set rice aside to cool.


Wash the vegetables and cut all your ingredients into long thin strips. Carrots especially should be very thin—like linguine. You can use any combo of fish, egg and/or crab with your veggie strips. If you have fresh salmon, cut the fillets into thin strips with the skin still on and marinade them in some soy sauce, rice vinegar and a bit of sugar. Fry the fish strips in oil at high heat until crisp. Smoked salmon and imitation crab can simply be cut into long, thin strips. Whisk eggs and fry them on both sides like a pancake, and then cut this into long, thin strips.

To make sushi on an extended trip, try vacuum packed smoked salmon, canned smoked oysters or mussels—or even fish that you catch yourself, for safety you should cook it first. For veggies try dehydrated pepper strips, sun dried tomatoes or longer-lasting fresh vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes or cabbage. Use your imagination to create your own kayak roll.

The art of the roll

Some people swear you can’t roll sushi without a bamboo sushi-rolling mat, but I find a clean cutting board works fine. The first step is to dampen the nori to make it flexible—moisten a tea towel and cover the nori sheets for a few minutes. The optional mayonnaise can be spread thinly on the entire surface of the nori sheet. The next step is to use your fingers and spread a half-centimeter thick layer of rice over the nori sheet, leaving just an inch or two uncovered at one end. The rice is very sticky so one trick is to have a small bowl of water nearby to wet your fingers.

Now lay the fillings on the rice along one end of the sheet. Begin to roll while holding the fillings tightly in the center with your fingers. Once you have a nice tight roll, seal the edge of the nori by moistening it with some water from the bowl.

If you are going to eat the sushi later, store the rolls in plastic wrap or a container. When you are ready to eat, just slice the rolls into several sections and serve with a small bowl of soy sauce, a dab of wasabi, some pickled ginger and a nice warm glass of sake.

sushi rolls
When you are ready to eat, just slice the rolls into several sections and serve. | Photo: Louis Hansel/Unsplash

Basic Maki Sushi Recipe

8 to 10 rolls = 3 to 4 very happy campers

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 1 package of roasted nori seaweed (10 sheets)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1–2 carrots
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1 cucumber
  • 200 g package of smoked salmon or 500 g fresh salmon fried in thin strips
  • 350 g package of imitation crabmeat
  • 2 eggs
  • Rice vinegar
  • Wasabi paste
  • Pickled ginger
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Mayonnaise (optional)

Paddling Magazine Issue 65 | Fall 2021

This article originally appeared in Paddling Magazine Issue 65. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.


Sushi prepared ahead of time is a quick and elegant meal on the first night of a camping trip. | Feature photo: iStock



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