I want you to forget about sushi burritos and fall in love with temaki, or sushi hand roll. Sushi burritos don’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated - bloated cylinders stuffed to bursting and a faint whiff of fast-casual sterility.

I fell hard for temaki (much like maki, but left whole, not cut into slices and intended to be eaten by hand) in Brooklyn at the achingly hip, subterranean DeKalb Market. There, at a small counter overlooking a Trader Joe’s, sits Daigo, which turns out only temaki and miso soup. The nori was crisp, the fish sweet and fresh, the whole package elegant and simple. I wondered what I had thought I was doing with all those chain sushi burrito joints with flashy crunchies and sauces.

Yes, you can get temaki at most sushi restaurants, but I realized that I could make these precious little sushi bundles at home. Make seasoned sushi rice; invest in good nori, toast it quickly by waving it briefly over a lit burner; slice fillings like sushi-grade fish, cooked shrimp, cucumbers or avocados. Assemble. This is a great, casual, make-as-you-go group meal with friends, since temaki are meant to be eaten as soon as possible after rolled while the nori is still crisp.

Emily Balk

A Recipe for Temaki (Sushi hand Roll)


  • 1 lb sushi-grade salmon
  • 1 cup uncooked sushi rice, prepared according to package instructions, including seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (for rice)
  • 6 sheets of sushi nori, cut in half into two equal rectangles
  • Choice of assorted vegetables, thinly julienned. Choose from: cucumbers, avocados, carrots, bell peppers
  • Wasabi paste, wasabi mayonnaise, sriracha mayonnaise, sesame seeds, furikake, fried shallots (optional)
  • Small bowl filled with room temperature water


Fill a medium bowl with ice. Slice fish into thin, 1/4 inch by one inch strips or cut into ¼ inch cubes. Place in a small bowl and nestle into the bowl with ice. This is to keep the fish cold while you prepare everything else.

If you have a gas burner, turn one on to medium high and gently wave each piece of nori an inch above the flame for a few seconds on each side to lightly toast. Here’s a videothat demonstrates how to do this.

To assemble: hold a piece of nori horizontally in your left hand. Place about a quarter cup of the cooked, seasoned rice in a thin square on the left side of the nori, leaving the right side plain. Place a few strips of fish (or a couple of tablespoons of cubed fish) and vegetables, plus a dab of wasabi or flavored mayo and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, furikake, or shallots, if using, in the middle of the rice square. Roll the nori into a cone by taking the bottom left corner and lifting it to meet the top-middle portion, about where the top right corner of the rice square is. Continue rolling in this direction until you have a cone. Dip finger in water and gently moisten the edge of the nori to help it stick. You can watch a video of the rolling in action online here.

Eat as soon as possible and roll another one when you’re done!