How to Roll Sushi at Home

How to Roll Sushi at Home

Interested in making sushi at home? Our guide will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to master the art of rolling sushi like a seasoned sushi chef. Prepare to impress your guests with perfect sushi rolls that rival your favourite sushi restaurant!

Essential tools and ingredients for rolling sushi

Here's a roundup of the right tools and ingredients you'll need for making sushi at home:

  1. Sushi rice: Buy short-grain Japanese rice. Rinse thoroughly to remove excess starch.
  2. Nori (Dried seaweed sheets): Choose high-quality nori sheets to wrap the sushi roll.
  3. Sushi Mat (Makisu): A bamboo mat to shape and hold the ingredients together. Use a clean tea towel or glad wrap if you don't have one.
  4. Sushi Rice Vinegar: To season the rice and give it a tangy flavour.
  5. Fillings: E.g. chopped tuna, crab meat, smoked salmon, cooked shrimp, cucumber, avocado, carrot, cream cheese. 
  6. A small bowl of water to dip your hands in to prevent sticking.
  7. Soy Sauce and Wasabi: Mix a little wasabi into the soy sauce for dipping.
  8. Sharp Knife: A sushi knife or a sharp chef's knife.



Sushi rice preparation

We recommend adding one tablespoon of seasoned rice vinegar per three cups of cooked rice. This creates sticky rice, allowing it to stick properly to itself and the fillings, ensuring the roll stays intact.

Preparing sushi fillings 

Select fresh, high-quality filling ingredients such as sushi-grade raw fish, vegetables, or cooked proteins and cut them into thin, uniform slices. Consider adding creamy avocado, crisp cucumber or tangy pickled radish. 

Rolling sushi using a traditional bamboo mat 

Now you have your recipe, bamboo mats allow for precise shaping and consistent results in the rolling process. With practice, you'll create beautifully rolled sushi that tastes delicious and reflects the time-honoured tradition of this classic Japanese culinary art.

Maki sushi - the traditional version

Here's a simple step-by-step guide to show you how to roll sushi using a traditional bamboo mat:

  1. Prepare your sushi rice, chosen ingredients and seaweed sheets.
  2. Lay the bamboo mat on a clean surface. Cover it with glad wrap to keep the mat clean.
  3. Place a sheet of nori on the bamboo mat, rough side up, 2cm from the edge closest to you.
  4. Wet your hands and shake off excess water, then gently spread the rice evenly over the nori, leaving a small space at the top edge.
  5. Arrange your fillings horizontally across the rice, closer to the bottom edge.
  6. Using the bamboo mat as a guide, carefully lift the bottom edge of the mat with your thumbs and forefingers and roll tightly. Use your other fingers to hold the filling, gently squeeze to form a circular shape and tighten the roll. 
  7. Gently pull the mat and continue rolling away from you until you’ve rolled past the far edge of the nori sheet.
  8. When the roll is completely formed, moisten the top of the nori sheet with water and gently press to create a secure seal.



Uramaki sushi - the inside-out version 

This variation on maki rolls features the rice on the outside, while the nori seaweed wraps the fillings inside:

  1. Prepare sushi rice, nori seaweed sheets, filling ingredients and optional toppings like sesame seeds or fish roe (tobiko).
  2. Cover the bamboo mat with glad wrap.
  3. Lay a seaweed sheet shiny side down, with the lines running in the same direction as the mat.
  4. Wet your hands, then spread a handful of rice evenly over the sheet of nori, leaving a small space at the top edge.
  5. Carefully pick up the nori and rice and flip it so the rice side faces down onto the glad wrap.
  6. Arrange your chosen ingredients horizontally across the nori sheet.
  7. Using the bamboo mat as a guide, begin rolling the sushi into a tight log shape. Apply gentle pressure to shape the roll.
  8. Roll in sesame seeds or tobiko.

Rolling sushi without a mat 

No sushi mat? No worries! Here’s how to roll sushi without a mat.

You can use:

  1. Parchment paper, or
  2. A tea towel, or
  3. A mould.

Simply lay the nori sheet on top of a piece of parchment paper or a clean dish towel and spread the sushi rice. Add your ingredients and tightly roll the sushi. Seal, slice and serve

If you use a sushi mould, place the nori sheet in the mould, spread the rice, add your ingredients, press and close the mould, and then release the hand roll onto a surface. Slice and serve

How to cut your sushi rolls 

Grab a sharp knife and follow these instructions:

  1. Wet the blade with cold water to prevent the rice and fillings from sticking to the knife.
  2. Place the roll on a clean cutting board, with the seam side facing down to maintain its shape.
  3. Cut the roll in half, applying gentle, even pressure. 
  4. After each cut, wipe the blade with a damp cloth. 
  5. For a traditional maki roll, cut each half into bite-sized pieces. Aim for approximately six to eight pieces per sushi roll.
  6. Carefully arrange on a serving plate.

Sauces and condiments to serve with sushi

There are many ways to enhance the flavour of your sushi

  • Soy sauce adds a savoury and umami flavour. 
  • Wasabi is a pungent Japanese horseradish paste that provides a spicy kick.
  • Pickled ginger (gari) adds a refreshing, tangy element.
  • Spicy mayo adds a rich and slightly spicy flavour, pairing well with shrimp tempura and spicy tuna.
  • Eel sauce (unagi) is a thick, sweet, savoury glaze that imparts a delightful sweetness.
  • Ponzu sauce is a citrus-based sauce offering a tangy and refreshing flavour.



Sushi roll storage tips 

  • If you have leftovers, place them in an airtight container or cover them tightly with glad wrap
  • Sushi rolls are best when consumed fresh. Try to enjoy them within a day to maintain optimal taste and texture. 
  • Sushi rolls are unsuitable for freezing, which can affect texture and quality. 
  • Store rolls separately from sauces or condiments to maintain flavours and prevent sogginess. 
  • Before consuming leftover rolls, inspect for any signs of spoilage or off-putting smells. If in doubt, discard them.

Discover more healthy snacks and meal ideas with Kiwigarden today! 

Now you know how to roll sushi, you’re ready to make your own sushi rolls at home! While you’re here, check out our healthy snacks and meal ideas. Shop yummy yoghurt drops and NZ freeze-dried fruit & veggies. Read our blogs for healthy school snacks and party food ideas. Get free shipping on all NZ orders over $35, and pay just $9.50 for orders to Australia over $50.