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“Temaki-zushi”: Get Creative with Roll-Your-Own Sushi

Yukimasa Rika [Profile]


If you’re looking for a no-hassle way to have a Japanese-style party, temaki-zushi—literally meaning “hand-rolled sushi”—could be the answer. The only cooking involved is preparing sushi rice, which is just fresh-cooked rice flavored here with sushi vinegar, regular vinegar, and salt. Although raw fish is commonly used, there are no hard-and-fast rules about what can or can’t go in the sushi; practically anything will work, from avocado to ground beef. Give your creativity free rein and mix and match different fillings as you enjoy the company of your favorite people.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Sashimi cuts of your choice (pictured below are red sea bream, boiled octopus, yellowtail, tuna, olive flounder, and scallops)

  • Nori (dried seaweed sheets), as needed
  • Green shiso, to taste
  • Soy sauce, to taste
  • Sushi rice:
    • 500 g freshly cooked rice
    • 3 tbsp sushi vinegar
    • 1 tbsp plain vinegar (rice vinegar, if available)
    • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. To make sushi rice, add the sushi vinegar, plain vinegar, and salt to the cooked rice and stir.
  2. Slice the sashimi cuts into thin slivers.
  3. Serve the rice in a large bowl, arrange the sashimi on a platter, and set on the table for everyone to share.
    To eat, take a sheet of nori in your hand, place a small portion of rice on it, top with sashimi of your choice, and roll it all up. Dip in soy sauce before eating.

Cooking Tips

  • There is more to the sushi universe than the all-famous nigiri variety, where sashimi slices rest atop bite-size mounds of hand-shaped rice. With temaki-zushi, you can casually enjoy this iconic Japanese food in the comfort of your own home. It’s particularly suited to home parties with a decent-sized group.
  • Temaki-zushi is as simple to prepare as it is festive to behold. Assembling your own sushi roll adds fun and action to the meal. This is a dish that will equally delight children and adults.
  • Sushi rice is traditionally made by adding seasonings to white rice, but these days ready-made sushi vinegar is sold in supermarkets. I added some plain vinegar here because I find store-bought sushi vinegar to be too sweet.
  • Sashimi cuts may not be easy to come by in some areas, but if raw fish is sold at the seafood section of a local supermarket, try asking a store clerk whether it is suitable for raw consumption. If the answer is yes, you can have it cut into thin slices.
  • Temaki-zushi need not be made with fish. Tamagoyaki—sweet or savory rolled omelets—are commonly used in Japan, while avocado is a popular sushi ingredient overseas. Get adventurous and use whatever you feel like using—your favorite vegetable, or even minced beef. As a rule of thumb, anything that goes with pasta will taste good in temaki-zushi.
  • If you can’t find nori, you can use lettuce instead, like Korean lettuce wraps. Think outside the box, and have fun!

(Originally written in Japanese with editorial assistance by Usami Rika and published on December 11, 2017. Photos by Natori Kazuhisa.)

  • [2018.02.14]

Culinary expert; chief executive officer, REKIDS. Born in 1966 in Fukuoka Prefecture. Graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. After returning to Japan, found work as a commercial producer with Japanese advertising giant Dentsu and began writing cookbooks on the side. At age 42, left Dentsu to start up her own online education business. Has appeared on the NHK World cooking show Dining with the Chef since 2011. Yukimasa has published more than 50 cookbooks, which have sold upwards of 800,000 copies and have been translated into Chinese and Korean. Author of Reshipi no iranai washoku no hon (Japanese Cooking Without Recipes), Konya wa ienomi (Drinks at Home Tonight), and many other works.

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