Perfect sushi rolls – a step by step guide


Sushi rolls

On ABC NSW radio (

Making sushi rolls may not always be successful with the first attempt but once mastered it can be great fun, especially if friends and family make their own. Experiment with whatever fillings you like, but a word of caution – don’t try and stuff too much rice or too many fillings into your sushi or it may not seal. This is a common mistake with ‘first timers’ but should this happen to you, don’t despair. At the end of the recipe below there are a few tips and hints on what to do.


It can be fun to make your own sushi

So, to get you started, here is a step by step guide we use at the Sydney Seafood School that should make it easy to make perfect sushi rolls even if it’s your first attempt. Click on the ‘Recipes’ section if you’re looking for a recipe to make sushi rice.


Making sushi rolls


THIN SUSHI ROLLS (Hoso-Maki-Zushi)

makes 6 rolls (36 pieces)


  • 3 sheets                         yaki-nori (toasted seaweed)
  • 1 cup                              water with dash of vinegar in small bowl
  • 3 cups                            prepared sushi rice
  • 1 tablespoon                 wasabi paste
  • 4 – 8 thin strips            pickled daikon (takuan)
  • 4                                     seasoned kampyo
  • 1 tablespoon                 pink pickled ginger (gari)
  • ¼ cup                            Japanese soy sauce



  • Fold each piece of nori in half, parallel with the lines marked on the rough side of the nori.
  • Place a half sheet, lengthwise on bamboo mat about 2cm from the edge closest to you, shiny side down. Dip fingers in vinegar water, shaking off excess to stop rice sticking to fingers.
  • Pick up about ½ cup rice and spread across the centre of the nori.
  • Dip both hands into vinegared water, shaking off excess.
  • Working from left to right, gently “rake” rice evenly over nori, leaving 2cm strip on far side with no rice.
  • Spread a pinch of wasabi across centre of rice and top with takuan and kampyo strips, making sure filling extends completely to each end.
  • Pick up the edge of the bamboo mat nearest you with index finger and thumb of both hands, placing remaining fingers over filling to keep in place.
  • Roll mat forward, pressing gently but tightly, wrapping rice around filling; the strip of nori without rice should still be visible.
  • Press gently and continue rolling forward to complete the roll, finishing with the join of the seaweed on the bottom
  • With the roll still wrapped in the sushi mat gently press the top and sides to make the roll square shaped.
  • Remove mat and place the roll on a board with the join facing down.
  • Wipe sharp knife with a damp cloth and cut roll in half.
  • Pick up one half roll and turn it 180º so both cut ends of rolls are at the same end.
  • Slice through both rolls together twice to make 6 bite-size pieces, wiping knife between each cut. Repeat for remaining rolls.
  • Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and Japanese soy sauce.


Notes: Large sushi rolls (Futo-maki-zushi) are made the same as small rolls using a whole sheet of nori with 5 – 6 fillings. Add or substitute other fillings such as: avocado, capsicum, blanched spinach, beans, carrots, asparagus, seasoned tofu, sashimi fish, teriyaki chicken. Takuan and seasoned kampyo are available in refrigerated packets from Asian food stores. Rolls can be made ahead, covered with plastic wrap, but cut as close to serving time as possible so rice does not dry out.

(Recipe courtesy of Sydney Seafood School – )

Common sushi roll mistakes & how to fix them

  • To stop fillings going off centre – after spreading sushi rice over the sheet of nori, build up a small mound of rice on the edge in front of the strip of uncovered nori. This then helps to keep the filling in place.
  • If fillings are off centre – after cutting the sushi rolls gently shape each bite size piece of sushi with fingers into tear drop shape with the filling at the narrow end.  Arrange pieces in a circle with fillings towards the centre, add a garnish to the middle and you have a sushi flower.
  • If a roll is overfilled and starts to split open – do not cut into pieces yet.  Place another 1/2 sheet of seaweed on bamboo mat.  Place the roll with open side face down onto seaweed.  Lightly brush both long sides of seaweed lightly with water and roll with bamboo mat away from you, as before and cut into 6-8 bite-size pieces from the middle first.
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