Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Disclosure: “Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style”  is sponsored in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) but all opinions are my own. 

I love sushi (so do three of my five daughters). To clarify, when I say sushi, for everyone except my adventurous 16 yo, I mean the “safe” rolls, specifically anything that doesn’t have raw fish in it. The closest to raw I will get is seared tuna.

The thing is, sushi isn’t cheap (and if it is, be afraid, be very afraid).

Last week I took my girls to a local restaurant that serves half-price sushi at lunch, our bill for 5 people was STILL $70 (not including tip) shh… don’t tell my husband.

Since I had such good luck making California Rolls and Vegetable Rolls a while back, I thought it was time to add to our homemade sushi repertoire. We all really like Caterpillar Rolls so I decided to give it a go. If you don’t know what’s in a caterpillar roll it is made with unagi (eel), cucumbers, nori (seaweed) and rice, topped with thin slices of avocado.

Slight problem… freshwater eel isn’t exactly readily available at the local Lowes Foods. I did some research and found out that catfish baked in a BBQ sauce makes a good substitute for unagi. I was a little skeptical, but willing to give it a go. I have to admit if I didn’t KNOW I was eating catfish in the roll I would swear it was eel. It has the same texture and taste, especially when made with my secret weapon, Berry Brothers Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce. And that my friends, is how you “North Carolina Style” sushi!

Click here for my “Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style” recipe.

Berry Brothers Berry Brothers is a family-owned and operated North Carolina business created by Adam Dillard in 2015. Born and raised in Raleigh, NC and brought up in his family’s catering business, Adam developed a passion for food and trained under chefs in the business.

Adam, along with two childhood friends who were like brothers to him, had the idea to create and sell a variety of sauces and dressings they had enjoyed growing up. Shortly after the initial phases of the business, they were faced with the sudden and tragic loss of their oldest brother. In his honor the dream moved forward and the first sauces were put into bottles. To learn more about the story, visit the Berry Brothers website.

Adam started off demonstrating and selling Berry Brothers sauces at small venues with good success. Encouraged by the local support Adam signed up as a vendor for the Got to be NC Festival in 2016 and presented his products to his largest audience yet. Over the past two years the company has really taken off.

Berry Brothers currently sells five all-natural condiments, Strawberry Rosemary Vinaigrette, Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Blueberry BBQ Sauce, Carolina Cajun Blend and Rib Rub, all made using premium fruits, vegetables, herbs, vinegars, and oils. When available, the berries used in their products are sourced from local North Carolina farms. You can find delicious recipes on their website, including Adam’s favorite recipe, Strawberry Chipotle Ribs, which utilizes Berry Brothers Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce and the Rib Rub.

Berry Brothers products are available for purchase in many stores throughout the area, as well as on their website and through Amazon.com. You can also connect with Berry Brothers on Facebook and Instagram.

Got to be NC Festival

Got to be NC Festival

Image used with permission from the NCDA&CS

If you are following me on social media you may have noticed a trend lately… I’ve been posting a lot about North Carolina businesses. As a small business owner myself, I believe it is important to support local small businesses. That is why I’m so happy to work with the NCDA&CS to promote the Got to Be NC Festival at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds on May 19 through the 21st. (Gate Admission and Parking are FREE! There will be a free shuttle from Carter-Finley Stadium to Gate 9 during the peak hours of 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturday and Noon – 7 p.m. on Sunday.)

“Join your friends and family for three great days of down-home celebration North Carolina-style at the Got to Be NC Festival at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.”

And while you are there don’t forget to check out Berry Brother’s booth at the Homegrown Fare. The event, part of the annual Got To Be NC Festival, will feature 100 local food, wine and beer companies. Admission is $3, but you can getget 2 FREE admissions with your Lowes Foods loyalty card. Plus, while supplies last you can get a free gift by mentioning Life of a Ginger at the Got To Be NC merchandise booth.

Got to Be NC Homegrown Fare presented by Lowes Food

The Got to Be NC Homegrown Fare will be held in the Expo Center. The hours for the Homegrown Fare are Friday Noon – 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

And here’s something fun… If you make a purchase from any of the vendors stop by the Got To Be NC booth to get your picture taken with your Got To Be NC product in the Homegrown Fare Selfie Frame! And if you feel like sharing on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #homegrownfare17 so we can check out your photos!

More information about the Homegrown Fare and the Got To Be NC Festival is available at gottobencfestival.com.

If you would like to check out some more delicious creations made with North Carolina products visit the links below:

Got to be NC Blogger Posts for #HomeGrownFare17


Catfish Unagi & Kabayaki Sauce


For the Kabayaki sauce

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (sometimes just called rice vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup Berry Brothers Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

For the Unagi

  • 2 catfish fillets
  • Berry Brothers Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce


For the Kabayaki sauce

  1. Combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and BBQ sauce in a small pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about half an hour.
  3. Let cool.

For the Unagi

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place catfish fillets in individual foil packets
  3. Cover each fillet with Berry Brothers Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce.
  4. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily (keep an eye on the catfish, doesn’t overcook it).
  5. Let cool.

Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style


North Carolina style kabayaki sauce (see recipe above)
2 cups prepared sushi rice, cooled
2 fillets of catfish unagi, cut into about 1/2 inch strips (see recipe above)
2 Avocados (halved, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced)
1 English cucumber,  julienned
1 pack unseasoned nori
Sesame Seeds, if desired
Sriracha Mayo, if desired



Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Julienne the cucumber and thinly slice the avocado. To keep the rice from sticking to your fingers have a small bowl of water close by and dip your fingers in periodically. Cover your bamboo mat with plastic wrap (TIP you can use a large Ziploc bag as well). Carefully fold and tear your nori in half to make two 3.75 inch x 8 inch pieces. (It should tear easily, if not, use kitchen shears to cut in half.) Lay one piece of nori towards the bottom of the mat.


Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Lightly wet your fingers with water, then add a small amount of rice onto the nori.


Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Wet your fingers in the bowl of water and use your fingertips to gently spread the rice out to the edges of the nori in a thin even layer. Add more rice as needed to cover the nori, but do not make the rice layer too thick.


Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Carefully flip the rice and nori over so that the rice is facing down and place some cucumbers and catfish unagi along the bottom edge of the nori.


Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Tuck your thumbs under the bamboo mat, then use your fingers to hold the filling in place while you tightly roll the mat up and over the filling. When the edge mat goes all he way around the roll lift the edge of the mat out of the way so you don’t roll it into your sushi.


Once the Caterpillar Roll is fully rolled, give the whole thing a hug with your fingers. This will compress the rice which will help keep it from falling apart when you slice

Once the Caterpillar Roll is fully formed, and while you have the bamboo mat around the roll, squeeze the mat to make sure the rice is thoroughly compressed so the roll will not fall apart when you slice it.


Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Place the avocado slices over the top of the roll, making sure each thin slice of avocado overlaps the next. Wrap the roll with the bamboo mat again and compress to keep the roll tight. Transfer the finished Caterpillar Roll to a cutting board and use a long sharp knife to slice the roll into 8 pieces. Start slicing the roll by putting the back edge of the knife on the roll and pulling the knife towards you, using the weight of the knife to slice through the roll. If you press down, you will crush the roll.


Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Place the roll on your plate and drizzle with the North Carolina Style kabayaki sauce and if desired, add spicy mayo and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I like adding a little bit of the cucumber peel to the “head” of the roll for antennas, and some small drops of sauce for eyes, but it’s not necessary.

(If you need a little more help, here is a video showing you how to roll the sushi.)

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Homemade Caterpillar Rolls, North Carolina Style

Comments 45

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  5. I think this is absolutely amazing. Well done. I think I would like the catfish. I’ve probably had eel in my sushi all the time, but the thought of eel does nothing for me, honestly. They look horrible and scary. Too snake like for me. This is a better alternative. The sauces sound great. Can’t wait to taste them at the fare.

    1. Post
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  7. I have met Adam on a few occasions. He is such a great guy and works so hard to perfect his flavors! I’m so glad you worked with him to tell the world about Berry Brothers! I am impressed with your sushi-making mojo!

  8. My son is going to eat this up! No pun intended. He LOVES Sushi! I do not know if he eats the raw fish kind or not ( I do not think so ). Thanks for the recipe we will have fun making it together some time.

  9. This style of sushi looks fabulous! I love how you dressed it with the North Carolina style kabayashi sauce, sriracha mayo and sesame seeds to add a bit of flair to this dish. I also like that this dish has a bit of kick to it. A bit of spice is always nice.

  10. I will have to try making this on the weekend. It looks so delicious and easy to make. I am sure the kids will love it.

  11. I am so impressed with your caterpillar rolls! I love sushi & sashimi, but I’ve never tried making it myself – love the idea of starting with something like this to practice the technique. Your instructions are great 🙂 What a fun way to use a delicious local product –

  12. You amaze me. I’ve had kitchenware for sushi for YEARS. Nothing… This looks great. You know I’m not a fish eater, but I still love the rest of it. Wonder what I could replace that with? 😉

    1. Post

      You could totally substitute tofu or chicken, cooking it in the BBQ sauce. It won’t be exactly the same, but still good! It really is easier than you think. The “hard” part is prep. Cutting up the veggies, making the rice then letting it cool…

  13. Oh my goodness, we were just talking about trying to make sushi at home. Hubby in I are in desperate need of a sushi fix and can’t leave our daughter just yet. Trying this asap.

  14. Oh WOW! This is a really original recipe idea! I’m going to look forward to making these myself. My picky eater kids may even want to give them a try because these caterpillar rolls look so impressive.

  15. Your caterpillars look so cute and delicious. My family would love it if I made these. We usually only go out for Sushi for specials occasions.

  16. These actually look really good. I’ve never had actual sushi before though. This makes me want to give this recipe a try. Love that it’s like a caterpillar too!

  17. Those are cute. I am the only one that will eat sushi in our house. I too don’t like anything with raw fish. The texture of raw fish creeps me out.

    I should try to make a California roll at home.

  18. So easy! Restaurant quality sushi! Recipes for dynamite sauce, unagi sauce,baked volcano roll, spicy tuna roll and more all in one post!

  19. My husband loves sushi! He would love if I made him this this weekend as we rarely go out for Sushi. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  20. Wow, these caterpillar rolls look amazing! I have never tried to make sushi at home, but you make it look easy enough that I will have to try it!

  21. The story about the brothers was cool to include here. I have not tried to make sushi at home partly because I am holding off until I can find the place to buy sushi-grade salmon (my favorite!) Catfish is different, I might give it a go with this one!

  22. Yum! Both the hubs and I love sushi, but we’ve not tried preparing sushi at home because we thought it’s difficult. I think it’s quite easy after reading your post. We have to try preparing one using your recipe one of these days.

  23. I’ve never been a fan of sushi, but this could totally have a thin sliced beef or pork in it. Looks delicious.

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