Typically a food you’d want to eat immediately while seated at a sushi bar, these artfully crafted hand rolls feature fresh seafood and crunchy greens wrapped in a bed of seasoned rice and crispy roasted seaweed.
This temaki sushi (or hand roll sushi) recipe shows you how to prepare hand rolls for a hands-on dinner party.
What is temaki sushi or hand rolls? origins?
While the origins of sushi are somewhat mixed, it’s well-known that sushi was popularized by and will forever be associated with Japan. In general, sushi is made up of vinegared and seasoned rice often paired with raw seafood and/or vegetables.
Temaki roll means “hand roll sushi” in Japanese and is traditionally made with a large piece of nori (or roasted seaweed) that’s wrapped around a filling of sushi rice, veggies, and different types of raw seafood. It’s rolled into a cone shape, designed to be eaten with your hands.
Hand roll sushi (temaki) vs cut rolls (maki)
There are many different types of sushi in Japan and even in other parts of the world, but there are two main types of sushi: cut rolls and hand rolls. The former is also called “maki,” “makizushi,” or “norimaki,” which are translated to rolled sushi or nori roll.
Maki rolls are filled with different types of ingredients (seafood, veggies, and seasoned rice) wrapped with nori in a cylindrical shape, and then, sliced into bite-size pieces. Some of my favorite maki rolls are spicy tuna rolls or American-style maki rolls, California rolls. To learn more about sushi rolls vs. hand rolls, visit my post.
I also cover how to roll sushi four different ways if you’re interested in learning the other methods too.
Temaki are hand rolls and are also wrapped with nori, but rolled in a cone shape that you eat with your hands–no chopsticks necessary. Typically, it’s best to eat temaki immediately after serving to savor the crispiness of the nori, otherwise, it becomes a little tricky to bite into because the nori is damp and wilted.
Ingredients for hand roll sushi
The ingredients of temaki are quite similar to other sushi recipes, the main ones being seasoned sushi rice and nori. Sushi rice is typically seasoned with a basic mixture of rice vinegar, salt, and sugar.
Nori is sold in various grades that describe different types of qualities based on the color: green (best for salads), blue, silver, gold (highest quality & best for sushi), and more depending on the brand. The higher the quality for nori, the more uniform the thickness is throughout the seaweed, black in color, and crisp it is out of the bag.
My favorite fish for temaki
Here are some sushi grade fish, which I like to buy from Mitsuwa or Catalina OP. The ones delivered from Catalina OP come vacuum sealed with dry ice so they’re rock-hard when they arrive, but here they are after defrosting in the fridge:
- spicy tuna
Vegetables and greens:
- radish sprouts
- shiso leaves
There are also other tasty fillings like roe or roasted sesame seeds, but these fillings can depend on the type of restaurant. I’m lucky to have so many Japanese restaurants around to eat temaki, like Honda Ya or OoToro Sushi.
How to make hand rolls
The main tip to remember when making temaki is that it’s best eaten IMMEDIATELY after you make it. Yes, that means you should NOT prep and make 5 rolls ahead of time before eating because your nori will get super soggy–no one wants that. Make a hand roll, and finish eating it before you start another. Trust me, it will be amazing.
I like to make this process easier by prepping all of the ingredients ahead of time BEFORE assembling: cut all the fish into strips, clean and slice all the veggies, season the rice, and prep all the sauces and wasabi sides. This is a great DIY dinner with friends and family where people make their own rolls.
To make temaki rolls, it’s important to cut the nori into thick and long strips. I typically cut nori in half, hot dog style (or horizontally). Take a scoop of seasoned rice and gently spread it on the left side of the nori. Then, pick greens and veggies to lay diagonally on the rice. Add about two or three strips of fish on top of the veggies.
Take the bottom left corner and fold it over the fish so that it connects to the top center of the nori. Then, take the right side of the nori and fold it over the middle of the roll. I like to use a grain of rice and place it on the bottom right corner as glue to seal the temaki.
How to eat a handroll
The easiest way to eat a handroll is with your hands. I like to add a bit of wasabi on the fish portion and dip it into soy sauce, then take a big bite. It’s also best to eat temaki immediately after you assemble it because the nori will go from crunchy and crisp to soggy (in under a minute) making it hard to bite off.
Hand Roll Sushi (Temaki Sushi)
- 2 c sushi rice cooked and seasoned
- 1 pack nori (sheets of seaweed) gold or silver grade preferred
- radish sprouts
- Persian or Japanese cucumbers
- shiso leaves
- avocado sliced
- toasted sesame seeds
- Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise
- soy sauce
- gari (pickled ginger)
- rice cooker and paddle
- Prep the sushi rice.
- Cut the fish into strips, prep the spicy tuna filling, and cut the scallops in half or bite-sized pieces. Optionally, you can mix the scallop pieces with Kewpie and sriracha to make spicy scallop filling.
- Wash, and cut the veggies into thin strips.
- Take one nori sheet and cut it in half horizontally.
- Add rice to the left-hand side of the nori.
- Add some vegetables and align them in a diagonal line from the top left corner to the bottom center corner.
- Lay your fish on top of the veggies or other fillings.
- Take the bottom left corner and fold it over the fish.
- Take the right side of the nori and fold it over the left side and continue until you roll it around to the front again. Use a piece of rice as glue to seal the open fold.
- Serve immediately before making any more rolls to savor the crispy nori.