How To Wow Your Friends With Sushi In The Backcountry

Impressing friends or even a group of clients for dinner while camping in an isolated place doesn’t have to be complicated. Why not do sushi for dinner? You’re probably thinking, you don’t know how to preserve fresh fish for even a day, let alone a few days. Yeah, fresh salmon won’t look so appetizing after 10 hours between the sun and your sweaty back, in your pack. Forget about that; the most important thing about sushi is rice, rice vinegar and seaweed paper. The rest is up to you! Just stick to vegetables or precooked fish. It will be a great surprise in the middle of a long trip or even just a weekend outing. It’s great for hiking, canoeing, cyclotouring, and remote rock climbing! However, I don’t recommend it in winter. Here is what you need:


A knife of any kind, well sharpened (A blade less than three inches makes it a little harder to cut beautiful pieces)

A flexible plastic cutting board (It’s very important that it be flexible.)

Cooking kit for the rice


Seaweed paper, sushi rice (Calrose), rice vinegar, sugar

Soy sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger

Avocado, green onion, cucumber, carrots, mango

Cold-smoked salmon, shrimp, crab-flavored pollock

Anything you think would be good. Don’t be shy! My basic rule of food is: If you put good things with other good things, it will makes something good to eat!

What I suggest you don’t use:

Tuna, salmon or shrimp in a can. (Unless you’re on a canoe trip for the third week. In that case, I can assure you it will do the job…)

Rolling it up

Start the rice on the fire or camp stove. You can serve a miso soup as a starter while it’s cooking. Even in summer, a good soup will cheer you up! 

When the rice is ready,  cool it down by setting the cauldron in a river. Meanwhile, cut all the ingredients in small but long slices. Fruits and vegetables can stay in good shape even after several days. The smoked salmon, shrimp and imitation crabmeat are all cooked, so don’t worry too much about their conservation. When they’re frozen, wrapped with some other ice and carefully packed with something insulating (like the thick socks you bring just in case, but know you probably won’t use), they can stay pretty cool throughout the day, and even the day after if it’s not too warm outside.

Once the rice is cool enough so it’s easy to manipulate, add a little rice vinegar and sugar and mix it. When everything is ready, place a seaweed paper on the flexible cutting board, add some rice and everything you want in your sushi. Try to roll it with the cutting board. If you don’t want to make a fool of yourself, try it at home ahead of time. And if you prefer to use a bamboo mat, go ahead and bring it—it probably only weighs about 48 grams. Cut them with your sharp knife and enjoy with some sake. You can even warm your sake if the temperature isn’t too hot. After that, why not eat fortune cookies and drink a good green tea? Did you cook too much rice? No problem, just mix it with the rest of the vegetables, add some spices and you have a rice salad for lunch the next day!