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How to Roll Sushi

Last updated on 5/17/2017

Whether it’s raw tuna or deep-fried, tempura-battered shrimp, it seems like everyone has a favorite kind of sushi. This delicious Japanese food tradition, which utilizes ingredients like fish, seaweed, rice, and vegetables, has spread all across the world and is now so common that you can you even pick it up at grocery stores and gas stations. One of the best things about this savory (and sometimes sweet) treat is that despite its small size, it can be made into a filling meal or a light snack, which makes it great for any catered event, party, or cocktail hour. With our step-by-step directions and instructional video, you can learn how to roll sushi and impress your guests.

Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Prepare Sushi Rice

Before you begin rolling your sushi, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve properly prepped your rice. You’ll want to use either medium or short grain white rice since they both mold together better than other rice options. Prior to cooking your rice, make sure you rinse it until your water isn’t cloudy. This removes any powdered glucose, talc, or rice powder that may be coating the rice. While it is safe to eat rice without rinsing it, washing it helps to improve the flavor.

Pour rice and water into a bowl. For every serving of rice, you'll want to add three times the amount of water, so if you're cooking one cup of rice, add three cups of water. Using your hands, move the rice around to help scrape off the powder coating the rice. Then, pour the rice and water into a mesh strainer to drain the water. You should repeat this process until the cloudy water no longer appears when rinsing your rice.

After you’ve cooked your rice, you should let it reach room temperature as this makes it easier to mold into a ball shape. Once your rice has cooled, you’ll want to sprinkle rice vinegar over it since this helps to add extra flavor. Make sure to stir the vinegar around so that it can evenly coat your rice. You’ll also want to use a sashimi knife to cut your rolls, as this will provide you with a more clean and even cut. If you do not have this kind of knife, then it’s important to make sure the blade of the knife you are using is extremely sharp since the nori (seaweed), rice, and filling can be difficult to cut through.

How to Roll Hosomaki

Hosomaki, also known as thin rolls, is a style of sushi that traditionally only uses one ingredient. For our video, we used cucumber, but you can also use thinly sliced carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados, or tuna. When making this roll, you will only need to use about half a sheet of nori.

  • Since your hands will need to be damp at certain points of the rolling process, you’ll want to have a little bowl of water near your prep area.

    • 1.

      Place the nori on your cutting board.

    • 2.

      Fold nori in half and pull apart the halves.

    • 3.

      With the shiny side facing down, place one half of the nori on a bamboo sushi rolling mat.

    • 4.

      Spread about a cup of rice across your nori, leaving a ½" border visible.

    • Dip your hands in the water before you spread your rice, but make sure that you shake off any excess water.

    • 5.

      Place ingredient in the center of your rice.

    • 6.

      To begin rolling, lift the end of the bamboo mat closest to you and fold it over your sushi ingredient.

    • 7.

      Using the bamboo mat, tuck the end of the nori into the rice and ingredient. Make sure that you have a tight roll.

    • 8.

      Lift away the mat from your roll, and dab water along the exposed edge of nori.

    • 9.

      Using your bamboo mat, roll your sushi into the exposed edge of nori to close.

    • 10.

      Pinch your sushi roll with the mat to make sure that the seams are tightly sealed.

    • 11.

      Using a wet, sharp knife, begin cutting into your sushi. Make sure to wipe off your knife in between each cut. You should have six pieces.

    • 12.

      Plate your sushi with a side of ginger and wasabi.

    How to Roll Futomaki

    Unlike its smaller counterpart, a futomaki uses a full sheet of nori and traditionally has four or more ingredients rolled in it. While a standard non-vegetarian futomaki will come with egg omelet, fish roe, chopped tuna, and whitefish flakes, this recipe can easily be modified into a vegetarian or vegan version. In this video, we used fresh cucumber, carrots, and avocado.

    • 1.

      With the shiny side down, place the nori on your bamboo mat.

    • 2.

      Spread about a cup of rice across your nori, leaving a ½" border visible.

    • Dip your hands in the water before you spread your rice, but make sure that you shake off any excess water.

    • 3.

      Place ingredients in the center of your rice.

    • 4.

      To roll, follow steps 6-9 from the hosomaki rolling instructions.

    • 5.

      Pinch your sushi roll with the mat to make sure that the seams are tightly sealed.

    • 6.

      Using a wet, sharp knife, begin cutting into the center of your roll in order to make two halves.

    • 7.

      Cut the halves into thirds, wiping off the knife between each cut.

    • 8.

      Plate your sushi with a side of ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.

    How to Roll Uramaki (Inside-Out) Roll

    A uramaki, commonly known as the “inside-out” roll, is one of the most common sushi rolls in America. Many believe that its popularity comes from the fact that the rice on the outside conceals the nori, making it less intimidating to sushi beginners. While there are no traditional ingredients in a uramaki, one of the most well-known styles is the California roll, which usually consists of cucumber, avocado, and crab meat or imitation crab.

    • 1.

      Lay a piece of plastic wrap on your cutting board. Place your bamboo mat on top of it.

    • 2.

      Take the plastic wrap and wrap it around your mat.

    • 3.

      Place your nori on your mat with the shiny side up. Then add about a cup of balled up rice.

    • 4.

      Spread the rice evenly across your nori leaving an inch border at the top.

    • 5.

      Sprinkle sesame seeds over your rice.

    • 6.

      Gently lift your nori and rice and flip it over so that the rice is now facing the mat.

    • 7.

      Add your ingredients.

    • 8.

      Begin rolling with your fingers pinching the nori to the mat. You may also need to use your other fingers to keep your ingredients in place.

    • 9.

      Once you’ve begun rolling, pull back your mat and nori to make sure that your roll is tight.

    • 10.

      Using your bamboo mat, squeeze your roll.

    • 11.

      Unroll your bamboo mat to dab some water onto the exposed edge of your nori.

    • 12.

      Take your bamboo mat and begin rolling your sushi into the edge of the nori. Then take the mat and squeeze to make sure that the seams are tightly sealed.

    • 13.

      Using a wet, sharp knife, begin cutting into the center of your roll in order to make two halves.

    • 14.

      Cut the halves into thirds, wiping off the knife between each cut.

    • 15.

      Plate your sushi with a side of ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.

    How to Roll Temaki (Hand Roll)

    Temaki, also known as a “hand roll”, is a conical shaped piece of nori that has ingredients spilling out of the top. Since this sushi is larger than most rolls, it is eaten with your hands instead of chopsticks. Think of it as a sushi ice-cream cone. Since the idea of temaki is to have ingredients coming out of the opening, there’s no limit to how many ingredients you can add to this roll. The temaki in this video features spicy shrimp and spring mix.

    • 1.

      Rip about 1/3 of your nori, leaving yourself with the 2/3 size sheet.

    • 2.

      With the shiny side down, place ½ cup of rice in the upper left corner of your nori.

    • 3.

      Place the ingredients on top of the rice.

    • 4.

      Take the upper left corner of your nori and roll it in towards your ingredients.

    • 5.

      Continue tightly rolling your nori.

    • 6.

      Plate with a side of ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.

    Related Resources

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    Knife Safety Tips

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