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What is Temaki Sushi (Hand Roll Sushi)?
Temaki sushi (手巻き寿司) known as temakizushi in Japanese, is a type of rolled sushi (makizushi) that is shaped by hand rather than using a bamboo sushi mat. Nori seaweed is cut into smaller pieces (halves or quarters), then topped with vinegared sushi rice and a variety of fillings before being rolled into a cone shape.
Fillings are usually cut into strips and often include ingredients such as fresh seafood like salmon or tuna, vegetables like avocado or cucumber, and a Japanese rolled egg called “dashimaki tamago.”
Although these days, temaki sushi is a casual dish that is mainly made at home, it is said to have originated from a sushi restaurant called “Tsukiji Tamazushi (築地玉寿司).”
How I Developed This Recipe
Temaki sushi is an excellent choice for parties in Japan due to its fun and interactive nature.
In preparing this article, we’ve compiled various filling ideas to cater to different tastes and preferences. The article includes a comprehensive guide covering everything from making perfect sushi rice to the art of rolling temakizushi.
It’s a complete resource designed to make your temaki sushi experience enjoyable. Enjoy exploring the world of temaki sushi with this guide!
Essential Ingredients & Common Fillings
- Sushi Rice: Essential for sushi making, sushi rice is a short-grain white Japanese rice known as “uruchimai” (粳米). It’s often labeled as “sushi rice” outside Japan and is famous for its slightly sticky texture, ideal for holding sushi’s shape. My tutorial on cooking Japanese rice on the stove is recommended for those without a rice cooker. Once cooked, the rice is seasoned with a mix of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. The proportions can be adjusted to taste.
- Sushi Nori Seaweed: Nori, made from red algae, is crucial for most sushi types, including temaki sushi. Its crispy texture, when freshly rolled, adds to the appeal of temaki sushi. Generally, one nori sheet is cut in half to make two rolls. Store opened nori in a ziplock bag in the freezer to prevent it from going stale; it lasts for 6 months or more.
- Recommended but Optional Ingredients: While there’s no strict rule on what to include in temaki sushi, some commonly used items in Japanese cuisine are rice vinegar or sushi vinegar for seasoning the rice, wasabi spread on the rice before adding fillings, and soy sauce for dipping.
- Sashimi Grade Fish/Seafood: Essential for authentic sushi. Popular choices include tuna, salmon, yellowtail, squid, mackerel, prawns, crab, ikura (salmon roe), and sea urchin. Ensure it’s from a reputable seller labeled “sushi grade” for safe raw consumption. Refer to the FDA page for more details about selecting fish for raw consumption.
- Cooked Fish Alternatives: For those unable to access sashimi-grade fish:
- Canned tuna or tuna mayo instead of raw tuna.
- Smoked salmon instead of raw salmon.
- Boiled prawns or ebi fry instead of raw prawns.
- Crab sticks as a substitute for fresh crab.
- Dashimaki Tamago: A Japanese omelet seasoned with dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Adds color and flavor to hand-roll sushi.
- Cucumber: Adds freshness and a crunchy texture to sushi. Preparation tips can be found in a kappa maki recipe.
- Avocado: A modern twist for temaki sushi, pairs well with salmon or prawns. Used in salmon and avocado donburi and sashimi salad recipes.
- Other Vegetables: Experiment with various vegetables like lettuce, perilla leaves (shiso/ooba), pickles (pickled daikon radish, etc), spring onion, carrots, and bell peppers.
- Natto: Fermented soybeans, a popular filling in Japan. It’s recommended to try natto on its own first due to its unique flavor and texture.
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Visual Walkthrough & Tips
Here are my step-by-step instructions for how to make Temaki Sushi at home. For ingredient quantities and simplified instructions, scroll down for the Printable Recipe Card below.
1. Make vinegared sushi rice
Generally, you should wash the rice to remove the excess starch. I pour the rice into a sieve and place it over a bowl. Fill it with cold water and swish it around until the water becomes cloudy.
Lift the sieve out and empty the bowl; repeat these steps 3 times. You will find that the water doesn’t become perfectly clear, but that’s okay. 3 times is enough!
For best results, transfer the rice to your cooking pot (or rice cooker) and soak it in cold water for 30 minutes (1 hour in a cold environment). This allows the grains to slowly absorb the water to the core, helping it to cook more evenly.
The general rule is for each Japanese rice cup (150g), add 200ml of cold water.
I recommend using a rice cooker, but if you don’t have one, follow these steps:
- Turn the heat on medium and bring the water to a boil with the lid on. (Do not remove the lid at any point.)
- Once you can hear it boiling, set a timer for 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes, turn down the heat to medium-low and set a timer for 3 minutes.
- Once 3 minutes are up, lower the heat to a simmer and set a timer for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, turn up to the highest heat for 10 seconds and then turn the stove off.
- Leave the pot on the stove with the lid on and allow the rice to cook in the residual steam for 10 minutes.
Steam is one of the most important aspects of cooking Japanese-style rice. If you remove the lid, then the steam will be released, and you could end up with hard, unevenly cooked rice. I know it’s tempting to check it but trust the process!
Once your rice is cooked, lightly mix it with a rice paddle to fluff it up.
For each Japanese rice cup (150g before cooking) I add:
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
You can change the ratio to suit your tastes (some people like it sweeter, for example), but this ratio is my personal favorite!
Be sure to check the bottle and determine whether you are using plain rice vinegar or seasoned sushi vinegar. Products labeled “sushi vinegar” often already have sugar and salt added for your convenience, so you simply add it to the rice on its own.
2. How to Hand-roll Temaki Sushi
Probably one of the most important points to get the shape right is the placement of the rice! First, cut the nori in half and place it on a flat surface with the rough side facing upwards.
Place the rice just left in the middle of the nori. Spread it to make a right-angled triangle shape; the longest side of the triangle will travel from the bottom left corner to the top of the center of the nori.
If you’ve done it correctly, there will be an empty triangle on the top left, like in the picture above.
Be careful not to press the rice too hard, and wet your hands with cold water to stop it from sticking.
Use your finger to spread a thin layer of wasabi through the middle of the rice (optional).
Next, lay your ingredients over the wasabi, diagonally from the top left corner of the nori to the bottom right corner of the rice.
When you roll the temaki sushi, bring the bottom left corner of the rice (1) to the top right corner (2) so that the two shorter edges (red dotted lines) of the “rice triangle” meet. Make sure not to add fillings to these corners and edges; otherwise, it will become difficult to roll.
Bring the bottom left corner to the top center of the nori; essentially, you’re folding your triangle of rice in half diagonally.
Once you’ve folded the triangle, you will be able to roll the rest of the nori sheet around the back to make a cone shape.
Make the corners match up (1 and 2) so that the final shape is beautiful and neat.
Once it’s rolled, dip it in soy sauce, eat and enjoy!Jump to Full Recipe Measurements
10 Variation Ideas
Here are 10 flavor combinations I created to give you some inspiration!
1. Salmon & Avocado
Avocado is not a traditional topping, but everyone loves a bit of avocado in temaki sushi these days! As I explained in the salmon and avocado donburi recipe, avocado especially goes well with salmon, in my opinion.
A small bunch of broccoli sprouts makes a nice presentation, too!
- Sashimi-grade salmon or smoked salmon
- Broccoli sprouts
2. Salmon & Ikura
Another classic combo for Japanese sushi! Salmon and ikura with shiso leaves and cucumber! Some people might not be fond of the texture of ikura, but if you already like it, it’s definitely worth a try. This combination is full of interesting textures!
- Sashimi-grade salmon or smoked salmon
- Ikura (marinated salmon eggs)
- Shiso leaves / perilla leaves (ooba)
3. Mixed Sashimi & Dashimaki Tamago
Dashimaki tamago is almost a must ingredient when we make hand-roll sushi in Japanese households. It adds different colors, textures, and tastes to the sushi!
If you want to know how to make it at home, check out my dashimaki tamago recipe.
- Sashimi of your choice (I used salmon and yellowtail in the picture above)
- Dashimaki tamago
- Chopped spring onions
4. Tuna & Cucumber
When we think of sashimi in Japan, we probably think of tuna first. Of course, it is a popular topping for hand-roll sushi, too! I simply used tuna sashimi and cucumber with a shiso leaf in this picture.
- Sashimi-grade tuna
- Shiso leaves / perilla leaves (ooba)
5. Wasabi Tuna Mayo & Cucumber
Can’t get fresh tuna? In that case, you can make tuna mayo using canned tuna! Here are the ingredients to make wasabi tuna mayo:
Just mix them up in a small bowl, and that’s it! Tuna mayo is not only a popular filling for temaki sushi but also for onigiri rice ball in Japan.
- Wasabi-flavored tuna mayo
Negitoro is basically minced raw tuna (made with offcuts), and you can easily make it by mashing sashimi-grade tuna or simply buying it already made from your local Japanese food store.
- Negitoro (minced tuna sashimi)
- Chopped spring onions
7. Imitation Crab Salad
Imitation crab is also popular among Japanese households, especially with kids! Simply mix imitation crab with mayo and wrap it with lettuce!
- Imitation crab
- Japanese mayonnaise
8. Spicy Mentaiko Mayo
If you already like mentaiko, you can also use it for hand-roll sushi! You can simply use it as it is or mix it with mayonnaise! If you want to know more about mentaiko, check out my mentaiko pasta recipe!
- Mentaiko (spicy cod roe)
- Japanese mayonnaise
- Shiso leaves (ooba)
9. Soboro Chicken (Miso-flavored Ground Chicken)
Who says you cannot use meat in hand-roll sushi? Sure you can! It is completely different from the other options, but it does go very well with sushi rice. This is a great option for people who aren’t a fan of fish.
If you want to know how to make this soboro mince, check out my soba salad recipe! You can use any kind of mince you like!
- Soboro mince (check out this recipe for detailed instructions)
Okay, I know natto can be intimidating for some people, but if you have already tried and liked it, it’s a popular option for Japanese hand-roll sushi too!
If you want to know more about Japanese natto, please check out my natto 101 post.
What are your favorite ingredients to put in temaki sushi? Let us know, and comment below!
The basic type of hand-rolled sushi is the trumpet-shaped “suehiro” hand-rolled sushi, and as I mentioned earlier, Tsukiji Tamazushi was the first restaurant in the world to invent this type of sushi. The “Suehiro Temaki” was invented over 50 years ago in 1971.
At the time, the owner wanted to create an unprecedented sushi dish in order to make sushi more accessible to young people. There is also an interesting story about the shape of the dish, which was inspired by the shape of an ice cream cone.
As a result, it attracted attention as a novel product, and temaki sushi quickly became a favorite in the restaurant. In other words, temaki sushi is not traditional sushi but rather a more modern and casual kind of sushi.
As you might have expected, sushi comes in many different forms. One of the biggest questions regarding hand roll sushi is the differences between sushi roll (maki sushi) and hand roll (temaki). I will explain the differences in detail.
First of all, maki sushi (巻き寿司) is a kind of generic term for rolled sushi. Those wrapped in nori seaweed are called “nori maki” and within “nori maki”, there are several variations such as “hosomaki” (thin with just 1-2 fillings) “futomaki” (thick with 3+ fillings), “ehomaki” (7 fillings) and “temaki sushi”.
Incidentally, gunkanmaki does not fall into the nori-maki category, since it is shaped with rice first and then rolled onto nori.
If you are making sushi at home, hand-roll sushi is quicker, easier, and more enjoyable for the family to make because you don’t need to worry about shaping it perfectly, and you can fill it with whatever you like!
You simply dip them in soy sauce and take a bite! We eat hand-roll sushi with our hands.
An average for one roll should be about 25g-30g for the best rolling experience, but it’s all down to how small you cut the nori seaweed and how much rice you want in one.
You actually don’t need any sushi mats to make hand-roll (temaki) sushi. In fact, if you use a mat, then it’s not really temaki sushi anymore.
I hope you enjoy this Temaki Sushi recipe! If you try it out, I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It’s also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with our other readers. Thank you!
More Japanese Sushi Recipes
Temaki Sushi (Hand Roll Sushi)
- Pour 300 g uncooked Japanese short-grain rice into a sieve placed over an empty mixing bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water until the rice is submerged. Swish, drain and repeat 3 times to remove the excess starch and dirt/debris.
- Transfer the rice to a cooking pot and add 350 ml water and 5 g dried kelp(s) (optional). Leave to soak for 30 mins to 1 hour.
- Add 1 tbsp sake (optional) before placing the pot on the stove.
- Turn on the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Listen for bubbling and do not remove the lid.
- Once it starts to it's bubbling, set a timer for 30 seconds. After 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and set a timer for 2 minutes.
- When 2 minutes are up, lower the heat to a simmer and set a timer for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, turn up to the highest heat for 10 seconds and then turn the stove off. Leave the pot on the stove with the lid on and allow the rice to cook in the residual steam for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, take off the lid, remove the kombu if you used it and lightly mix the rice without crushing the grains.
- Mix the 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp sugar in a small bowl until fully dissolved.
- Transfer the rice to a wide container (wider=fasted cooling) and pour the sushi vinegar mixture over the top while it's still hot. Mix and fan to cool the rice.
- Cover with a damp tea towel to stop it from drying out until it’s time to serve.
How to assemble temaki sushi
- Cut 8 sheets sushi nori seaweed(s) into halves and set one down horizontally in front of you.
- Add about 30g of sushi rice and spread it out on one half of the nori, leaving the top corner empty. (Wet your hands to prevent the rice from sticking.) The rice should be shaped like a right-angled triangle.
- Spread a thin layer of wasabi paste diagonally through the middle of the rice triangle. (Optional)
- Place your choice of fillings over the top of the wasabi.
- Bring the bottom left corner of the nori up to the centre so that short edges of the rice triangle meet.
- Roll the remaining nori around the back of the cone, try and line up the points for a smoother and more beautiful shape.
- Dip in a personal bowl of soy sauce (depending on the filling) and enjoy!