Recipe 18: How to Make “hand roll” Sushi

I’ve always been a huge fan of maki sushi, the roll-and-slice variety, but lately I’ve been really enjoying the beauty and texture of hand roll sushi. They’re all the original contents of a typical roll, but rolled so that the nori is like a cone, and the contents are like the ice cream. These come in so many arrangements, and allow creativity to really come into play. You can buy the toasted nori sheets and get 2 rolls out of each sheet (you use a half-sheet for each).

Here, I’m going to show the basic recipe for an honestly delicious roll using broiled eel and then at the end I’ll list some other combinations along with pictures that we feasted on here in the Mayer/Ireland household (apartment…hold?).

Recipe 18: How to Make “hand roll” Sushi


Toasted nori sheets (each sheet makes 2 rolls)
short/medium grain sushi rice
rice vinegar
vacuum-sealed barbecued eel fillet (in the frozen section of Asian Markets)**
wasabi (fresh or powder)
black sesame seeds (optional)
cucumber, thinly sliced into sticks
radish or some other kind of sprouts
**you can substitute this with other types of broiled or raw fish if you like. This was a special treat for the new year.


First, prepare your rice by soaking in cool water for an hour, changing the water twice or three times during the soak. When that’s done you’ll drain it with a fine mesh collander for 15 minutes or so. Then add it to your cooking pot or rice cooker and begin steaming it.

Next, make sure your eel is thawed and put it on some tin foil. We have a tiny toaster oven that works perfectly for broiling small things, but if you don’t have one, just pop it into your oven broiler until the sauce is bubbling and the eel is hot throughout. Honestly, most are already cooked, so you’re just warming it up and heating up the sauces.

Slice your cucumber thinly with a mandolin slicer, or fine julienne with a knife. You could also use a vegetable peeler, but the “sticks” seem to be prettier. Rinse and prepare your radish sprouts and put those two side by side in a bowl for easy access.

Take your nori sheets and gently fold in half. You can carefully rip along this fold and get your two half-sheets.

Once your rice is done, season it with rice vinegar and cool until you can handle it. Place a small palm-full of rice onto the upper right side of your nori half-sheet and run a bit of wasabi along the rice. Lay a couple slices of eel, some cucumber sticks, and some of your radish sprouts angled out on the pad of rice. Time to fold.

Take the bottom right corner and fold it up to the halfway line on your nori sheet. Wrap the left side of the sheet around your cone and roll tightly. Seal with a wet fingertip and give a slight, gentle twist to cinch it in a bit. You can lay these flat or place them in specialized holders. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds as a garnish.

Get creative and enjoy!!

A few other hand roll combinations:

Vegetarian: Avocado spears, sea salt, wasabi, carrot, and cucumber. Maybe some sprouts in there for good measure,
Spicy tuna: (my favorite!) Chopped tuna (sashimi grade only), sriracha, a bit of mayo, cucumber, and avocado or sprouts.
Crunchy Salmon: Sliced salmon (sashimi grade only) dip the edges in panko crumbs, cucumber, and sweet fish sauce.
The possibilities are endless, truly. 🙂

As always, if you want to make these in advance for lunch tomorrow, no raw fish. Only vegetarian rolls are safe to eat so far out. Sushi is meant to enjoy fresh!

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