Handrolled sushi

handrolled sushi

Once you know how to make basic sushi rice, you can start making sushi at home. However, I don't consider the regular sushi-on-a-ball type of sushi (aka nigiri zushi) that you get at a sushi restaurant to be that good for the home cook. Making that type of sushi is notoriously difficult - sushi chefs, or itamae, go through years of training. Rather than struggle to get that just-right balance between rice ball and topping, or neta, I stick to the kind of sushi that is easy to make at home.

One of these is hand rolled sushi (temaki-zushi). This is great party food, since the rolls look so pretty and of course, they can be eaten without utensils. You can either make the handrolls ahead and put them on a buffet, or - much better - have a "roll your own sushi" party. We even have this sometimes just for dinner, since it is so easy to make.

Handrolled sushi (temaki-zushi)

  • 1-2 cups of prepared sushi rice per person, depending on what else you're serving
  • Several sheets of nori seaweed
  • Fillings (gu) - see below.
    (You may notice I use the term gu frequently. Gu in Japanese simply means additional ingredients, or filling. Another term that means filling is tane.)

Prepare the fillings. Here are some suggestions, both traditional and non-traditional:

  • Seeded, julienned cucumber
  • Very very thinly julienned spring onions
  • Very very thinly sliced onions, soaked in cold water and drained well.
  • Raw or seared (just cooked for seconds on each side) tuna, cut into strips. Make sure it's fresh, sushi-grade tuna.
  • Various smoked fish - smoked salmon, mackerel, trout, haddock, etc., shredded.
  • Julienned ham, or roast beef, or roast pork - any kind of cold cuts should work, provided they aren't too fatty (mortadella or salami types don't really work, neither do the "dried beef" type of things like Möstbröckli.)
  • A fairly bland, firm cheese (Gouda and Tilsiter work pretty well), cut into strips. Cream cheese can work well too.
  • Julienned pickled sushi ginger (gari)
  • Broiled salmon skin. If you buy a whole side of a smoked salmon, you can cut up the skin (leave a bit of the flesh on it) and broil it.
  • Japanese-style thin omelette, cut into strips.
  • Cooked flaked crabmeat, or shredded imitation crabsticks (often sold frozen as surimi)
  • Thinly sliced ripe avocado
  • Daikon radish sprouts
  • http://www.justhungry.com/images/norikanpyoshiitake.gif
    Three basic dried Japanese foods: nori seaweed, kanpyo and shiitake mushrooms
    Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water, then cooked in a mixture of dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin or sake, and sugar. Kanpyo (dried gourd strips) are also prepared in a similar way.
  • Caviar - the sturgeon kind or the salmon kind, or if you must, the lumpfish kind.
  • Have some wasabi (use the powdered kind, reconstituted with water: this is available at Japanese food stores) and soy sauce on hand also.

You certainly don't have to have all of these ingredients. Just choose a few and mix and match.

Prepare the nori seaweed. To crisp it up a bit, fan it over a low flame (if you have gas burners) or a medium hot plate (if you have electric burners), flipping it over back and forth. Be careful not to let it catch on fire! Cut the nori sheets into half or quarters, with kitchen scissors.

To make each handroll: Place the cut up sheet on nori in your hand. Place a little rice on it - you only need a couple of tablespoons worth. Make a dent in the middle and put whatever fillings suit your fancy in. Try to balance the meaty (such as tuna) with the crispy (such as cucumber or daikon radish). Make your own California roll, by combining avocado, crabmeat and cucumber. Or how about a New York roll, with smoked salmon, cream cheese and onion slices? You can either roll horozontally (to make a tube), or roll into a cone, as is shown in the picture, which is prettier.

For a "make your own" spread, put the sushi rice in a large plate or bowl, put the ingredients on several plates or individual plates. Give each guest a pair of chopsticks, a spoon, a stack of nori seaweed squares, a dipping plate for soy sauce, and a larger plate to hold their rolls.

Serve with a good miso soup, perhaps a salad, and plenty of beer and hot green tea.

Filed under:  japanese party food rice sushi fish

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I live in the US and Ive had sushi and other foods from japan and I was wondering would this make a good diet? I am by no means overweight, but since I am an average american I have "The Gut" that won't go away, so I was wondering if this would be a good thing to try.



Richard, I'm not a nutritionist or dietician or doctor so I can't give any diet advice. :) Whether handrolled sushi can fit into a weight loss diet depends I guess on how much rice you put in, since rice eaten in quantity isn't quite helpful to weightloss. If you made rolls with mostly vegetables perhaps? A site like ediets.com has a lot of good diet advice. Good luck!

I stumbled onto your food blog today and am so happy to find Japanese recipes!!!

Do u think u can post pictures of the process to create those beautiful handrolls?


Esthetic food like sushi is a good way to bring yourself to eat vegetables , so I'd say as long as you make sure to incorporate some veggies they'd do good in a diet!

(Hi I'm also a Gen!)

Well, I've tried again to make the pretty cones and failed. I'm not sure why I find it so difficult; I've never had a problem with normal "rolled" sushi on a bamboo mat. These look so precious, I'd love to make them so I second the request for photographs of your rolling :)

Mayonnaise is awesome on these, and also tenkasu (tempura crumbs.) Especially with crab or surimi! We call the tenkasu, mayo, and surimi rolls "little kid rolls" because it's something a little kid would like!

I've been to your site in the past couple of years and before the redesign you had an article on how to roll makizushi which i cant seem to find now.
Thank you for a great Japanese food experience

You are probably looking for this: ehou maki (a 'fat roll'). (it's been like 3 years since i redesigned...but I guess relying on Google Search for indexing the site is not always a good thing)

I know this post was made forever ago, but I love temaki sushi and was wondering if there's anyway I can make it withstand being in a bento box! My worry is that it will go all soggy. Any thoughts?