Japanese Recipes for Busy People: Rice and Sushi

Posted on September 26, 2010


My temaki filling platter. This one's predominantly fish but you can put anything in temaki.

Nobody in Japan makes nigiri sushi (small parcels of rice with fish on top) at home. It takes days of training to make anything that’s not pathetic, and years to make anything good. In contrast, temaki sushi (hand roll sushi) is a popular dinner party dish. The way it’s eaten is similar to Chinese duck pancakes. You prepare a plate of raw fish and other fillings, a bowl of sushi rice and a pile of nori seaweed sheets. The diners then put some rice and filling on some seaweed on their own plates and roll them up just before eating. Simple, and fun.

The only tricky bit is acquiring the ingredients. I recommend Atariya for fresh fish-they’re sashimi (sushi grade raw fish) specialists. For more about buying Japanese ingredients, see my previous recipe post.

We’ll start by cooking the rice. People in Japan actually don’t know how to do this because they all have rice cookers!

Recipe 3. Cooking Japanese Rice in a Pan

Ingredients for one person (scale as necessary)
150ml Japanese/sushi rice (yes ml, not grams!)  example
200ml water


1. Put the cold water and rice into the pan. With the lid on the pan, put on a high heat until the water boils. Make sure you keep the lid on the pan all the way through this recipe.

2. Turn down to a low heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Stop the heat but don’t remove the lid- leave to steam for at least 10 minutes before serving or mixing with sushi vinegar.

You might wonder what the difference between “Sushi rice” and “Japanese rice” is. They’re in fact the same thing – it can be used in anything from sushi to katsu curries.

Recipe 4. Temaki Sushi (Hand Roll Sushi)

1 portion Japanese rice from recipe 3
1.5tbsp sushi vinegar [sushi-zu] example
Fillings of your choice – It’s most conventional to have sashimi (raw fish) as a filling for temaki, but There’s really no rules. For inspiration, I’ve listed the top 30 fillings at the bottom of this page. Tuna mayo, ham and cheese all make it into the top 30.
3 sheets sushi nori seaweed [sushi nori] example
soy sauce example
wasabi example


1. Mix the rice with the vinegar in a bowl, cover with a tea cloth and leave. Body temperature is the ideal temperature to serve it at.

2. Chop up the fillings into small pieces if necessary and place on a platter.

3. The seaweed come in sheets of about 20cm x 20cm. Halve down the middle or quarter with scissors and leave in a pile.

Rice, nori seaweed and soy sauce.

4. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi, if preferred.

At the dinner table, diners take one sheet of nori seaweed and put rice and filling on top then roll up into a cone. It’s a lot of fun.

How to make temaki sushi. This one has cucumber and salmon roe.

Ready to eat.

This one's tuna.

If you buy your fish from a Japanese retailer, do ask them for some wasabi with the fish. They usually give you a bit for free.

Top 30 favourite hand roll fillings according to a survey conducted by Japanese web portal goo.
1. tuna
2. salmon roe
3.tuna mayo
4. salmon
5. sweet prawn
6. natto (fermented soy bean)
7. sea urchin
8. teriyaki garden eel
9. crab mayo
10. omlet

11. squid
12. shiso basil
13. cucumber
14. scallop
15. pickled plum
16. smoked salmon
17. teriyaki Japanese eel
18. avocado
19. octopus
20. sweetcorn mayonnaise

21. char-siu
22. takuan (pickled radish)
23. grilled salmon
24. crab
25. barbequed meat
26. karaage fried chicken
27. kanpyo
28. tempura
29. cheese
30. ham

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