It’s no wonder sushi has become increasingly popular in New Zealand over the last decade. Low in fat, rich in complex carbohydrates and omega-3, this traditional Japanese food makes an ideal lunch or dinner for health conscious food lovers.

Although today it is strongly associated with Japan, sushi actually originated in China. It’s signature ingredients are sticky rice and a filling of raw fish, but you can experiment and use just about filling you like.

Making your own sushi roll is not as hard as you might think. With just a few ingredients, a simple bamboo rolling mat and a bit of practice you’ll easily turn out professional-looking nori maki.

Different Types of Sushi

Perhaps the most easily recognisable variety of sushi is nori maki or maki sushi – the ubiquitous seaweed (nori) jacketed sushi roll seen in sushi shops across the country, and the subject of this guide. But there are other types of sushi – these include:

  • Sashimi – sliced raw fish served without rice.
  • Oshi sushi – rice and layers of other ingredients, formed by pressing in wooden molds.
  • Nigiri sushi – small, hand-formed oblongs of rice topped with fish.

Sushi Roll – the Basics

The only piece of equipment you must have to make sushi roll is a bamboo rolling mat. These are inexpensive and can be found in most Asian supermarkets or food stores. A rice cooker is helpful for cooking rice, but a saucepan will serve just as well.

The man components of a sushi roll are:

  • Nori – the seaweed squares that form the outer jacket to the sushi roll and give it its distinctive black-green appearance.
  • Filling – you can fill your sushi roll with virtually anything you like. Some common fillings include omelette, tuna mayo, cucumber, avocado, asparagus, crab stick, teriyaki chicken, Japanese pickle. Of course, raw fish is closely associated with sushi. If you use raw fish, make sure it is sushi or sashimi grade as this type of fish will be free of harmful parasites.
  • “Sticky” rice – don’t try to make sushi roll with normal long-grain rice as it won’t stick together properly, neither will it have the distinctive sushi taste and texture. Use short-grain sushi rice only.

The first step in making sushi roll is to prepare your rice. Follow the recipe below for perfect sushi rice (known as shari).

Sushi Rice Recipe


  • 3 cups of sushi rice
  • 3 cups of cold water
  • ½ cup of rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt



  1. Rinse the rice well in a sieve under cold running water.
  2. Place rice in a bowl, cover with cold water and allow to soak for half an hour.
  3. Drain rice and place in a saucepan.
  4. Add 3 cups of fresh cold water and cover.
  5. Bring to the boil over a high heat.
  6. When the water boils, reduce to a low simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed – about 10 – 12 minutes.
  7. Tip cooked rice into a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  8. Mix vinegar, sugar and salt and drizzle over the rice, folding in with a wooden spatula or spoon.
  9. Allow the rice to cool.

Sushi Roll – Putting it Together

Once you have prepared your rice follow the steps below to make your sushi roll.

  1. Lay out your bamboo rolling mat.
  2. Place a sheet of nori, shiny-side down, on the mat.
  3. Wet your hands with either rice vinegar or water and spread a thin layer of rice over the nori. Make sure you leave about a centimetre of empty space along the edge of the nori furthest from you – this is the strip that will stick the roll closed.
  4. Place your filling ingredients in a row across the centre of the rice.
  5. Moisten the empty strip of nori with a little water
  6. Take hold of the edge of the bamboo mat closest to you, roll it over the sushi and away from yourself.
  7. Squeeze the sushi as you roll to compact and shape it.
  8. Place the finished roll on a cutting board and slice in to disks about 2 cm thick.

Serving Sushi

Arrange your sushi on a plate and serve with wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger root.

To see a demonstration of how to make sushi roll check out this video.

How to Make Sushi Roll, 3.2 out of 5 based on 9 ratings



  1. SushiTail says:

    I find California rice brand named Kokuho to be one of the best for sushi. Thanks for the tutorial.

    VA:F [1.9.17_1161]
    Rating: 4.3/5 (10 votes cast)
  2. Zsofia Gazdag says:

    This amount of water is way too little for the amount of rice. I tried it twice. I just lost my old recipe…

    VA:F [1.9.17_1161]
    Rating: 3.0/5 (2 votes cast)
  3. Richard says:

    Why no dipping in soy sauce

    VA:F [1.9.17_1161]
    Rating: 3.3/5 (3 votes cast)