Kappa maki is one of the most popular sushi rolls! It’s also one of the easiest kinds to make. This simple dish only requires a handful of ingredients and is a great recipe for beginners who want to practice rolling their own sushi! Let’s get started!
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What is “Makizushi”?
Makizushi (巻きずし) is the Japanese name for sushi rolls. Maki means to roll, and zushi comes from the word “sushi“.
Makizushi consists of 1 or more fillings, wrapped in vinegared rice and rolled up in an edible dried seaweed sheet called nori. Makizushi is usually rolled using a bamboo sushi mat.
Types of Makizushi
There are a few different kinds of makizushi:
- Hosomaki (細巻き) Small thin sushi rolls, usually with 1 filling
- Chumaki (中巻き) Medium sized sushi rolls with 2-3 fillings
- Futomaki (太巻き) Thick sushi rolls, usually with around 4 fillings
- Uramaki (裏巻き) Reversed makizushi with the rice on the outside and the fillings wrapped in nori in the middle
- Temaki (手巻き) A cone shaped sushi rolled by hand (rather than with a bamboo mat)
Since kappa maki is small with only one filling, it falls under the category of hosomaki.
What is Kappa Maki?
Kappa maki is a type of hosomaki (thin sushi roll) and is made with 3 main ingredients:
- Sushi rice
It’s a simple recipe that can be enjoyed by everyone, including vegetarians and vegans! And because it only uses one filling, it’s a perfect starter sushi for practicing rolling makizushi at home.
Once you master kappa maki (or any hosomaki) then you can move on to more challenging sushi rolls with multiple fillings!
What is “Kappa”?
Probably one of the most commonly asked questions about this sushi roll, is “what is kappa”?
It might sound random, but Kappa is a type of “yōkai” or demon from traditional Japanese folklore. It looks like a little bit like a human cross turtle with a beak and it’s known to live in rivers and lakes.
The Kappa is known for luring people into the water and drowning them… but on a lighter note, it’s also known for it’s love of cucumbers!
There are some festivals in Japan where cucumber offerings are made to Kappa and there even used to be a tradition where people would write the names of their family members on cucumbers and send them into the river in belief that it would protect them from Kappa.
I’m sure the Kappa monster would love kappa maki! Especially since the dish is named after him.
Cutting Cucumber for Kappa Maki
So the main ingredient for this dish is cucumber, but how do you cut it nicely for kappa maki?
Well firstly, I recommend buying small Japanese or Persian cucumbers for kappa maki. If you use small cucumbers, you can cut it in half lengthways, and then half again into lengthways quarters, that’s it. We also remove the fleshy seed part.
In Japan, cucumbers are very small and the skin is kinda bumpy and a bit rough. To smooth out the skin, we rub it with salt and then wash it before cutting.
If you can only buy large English cucumbers then I recommend cutting it into halves first. After that, you can cut each half into 3-4 pieces lengthways to make 6-8 strips in total.
Make sure every piece of cucumber has skin attached for better texture and presentation in your kappa maki.
What You’ll Need
Here is a list of the few pieces of equipment and ingredients you’ll need to make kappa maki.
The most useful tool for making kappa maki is a bamboo rolling mat. You can purchase them on Amazon here.
While a sushi mat isn’t essential, it will make it a lot easier to roll your kappa maki neatly and nicely. They’re also cheap to buy so if you want to hone your sushi rolling skills, it’s a must have item!
If you don’t have one, you can also use cling film (saran wrap) on top of a clean tea towel.
Here is what you’ll need to make the best Kappa Maki.
- Sushi Rice (The recipe is below. You can also see my post, how to make perfect sushi rice)
- Salt (to scrub the skin on the cucumber)
- Wasabi (optional – I use S&B wasabi paste)
- Soy sauce for dipping
And that’s it! Simple right?
I hope you enjoy making and eating this simple but tasty Kappa Maki Cucumber Sushi Roll!
Kappa Maki (Cucumber Sushi Rolls)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 300 g cooked Japanese short-grain rice
- In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1/4 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt until dissolved.
- Mix the vinegar mixture with 300 g cooked Japanese short-grain rice. (It's okay if it's still warm.)
- Next, sprinkle 1/2 tbsp salt onto a chopping board and roll 200 g Japanese or Persian cucumber(s) over it.
- Rub the salt over the skin and then rinse the cucumber under cold water.
- Cut off both ends, and peel the skin off of the top and bottom. (The skin at the ends is often thicker and can have a slightly bitter taste.)
- Cut the cucumbers in half lengthways, then again into quarters. If your cucumber is large, you’ll need to cut it into sixths or eighths.
- Run a knife along the area just below the seeds to remove them.
- Fold your nori sheets in half and pinch along the crease so that you tear them in half. (You can use scissors if you prefer.) This will give you 6 smaller nori sheets.
- Place the nori onto the bamboo rolling mat with the rough side facing up. Make sure the bamboo is laying horizontally in front of you.
- Wet your hands with cold water. Keep a bowl of cold water nearby to use when necessary. (This helps stop rice sticking to your hands.)
- Take a handful of sushi rice (approx 50g) and shape it into a cylindrical shape.
- Place the rice cylinder onto one end of the nori, and gently spread it to the other end. (You can use a rice paddle to spread it if you prefer.)
- Use your hand to make a wall at the end of the nori, and push the sushi rice right up to the edge.
- Now pull the rice down so the bottom edge is covered with rice, but leave a gap at the top. The top part will wrap around and help the maki hold it’s shape.
- Add a small blob of wasabi and spread it down the middle.
- Place the slice of cucumber over the wasabi and push it into the rice to prevent it from moving.
- Lift the edge of the bamboo mat closest to you (the bottom edge) and carefully roll it over so that the two edges of the rice meet. (Make sure it’s tight!)
- Open the bamboo mat slightly and roll over the flap of nori to close the sushi. You don’t need to wet it down, the moisture from the rice will help the nori stick together.
- Once you have your completed sushi roll, use the bamboo mat to press the edges and make it into a cube shape. (Kappa maki is typically a cube rather than round.)
- Repeat until you have 6 rolls and wet a sharp knife with a damp cloth. Cut each sushi roll into 4, 5 or 6 pieces depending on size preference.
- Enjoy your homemade kappamaki with soy sauce for dipping!