How To Roll Sushi: Useful Steps & 4 Important Ingredients

Learning how to roll sushi is not as difficult as learning how to fly a plane. It is very simple and easy to learn if you have all the ingredients needed. Rolling sushi at home is the best way to eat fresh and healthy sushi because you can twist the fillings to your choice of ingredients. You can even use good leftovers to make your sushi while you enjoy with any sauce of your liking.

Sushi originated from Japan, it is made with vinegared rice which is the key ingredient and nori. The fillings can be seafoods or vegetables. Sushi is a versatile food as it goes well with any type of sauce. Now, we will look at the ingredients used in making sushi before proceeding to the steps on how to roll it.


i. Sushi rice: Sushi rice is a short grain Japanese rice that is mixed with sugar, rice vinegar and salt. The rice is known to be sticky but it is not the same as glutinous rice. Because of the high moisture content of the rice when fresh, it has to be properly drained after cooking. After cooking the rice, it must be cooked to a room temperature before being used for the sushi so as not to become sticky when it is seasoned.

To mix the cooked rice with the ingredients (sugar, vinegar and salt), a round, flat-bottom wooden tub or barrel and a wooden paddle is used.

ii. Nori: Nori is the seaweed paper used in wrapping the sushi. It has a salty flavor. This nori is an algae that is cultivated in Japan. In the olden days, these algae are scrapped from dock and rolled into sheets after which they are sundried (Wikipedia). Today, nori is farmed, processed and packaged by companies. Nori can be mixed with flavors to give it varieties of taste. The flavored nori is not used for sushi so as not to mess with the original sushi flavor. The nori acts like the binding agent for the roll.

iii. Sushi fillings: The fillings inside sushi rolls are called gu, you can change them to any ingredients of your choice. Most sushi rolls comes with seafood as its ingredient. Fish mostly used are mackerel, salmon, tuna and snapper. The part of the fish used must be the fatty part without bones; the fish can be grilled or raw. Some prefer using seafood like clam, shrimp, eel, octopus, prawn, crab, or urchin.

Another filling to be used is vegetables like avocado, cucumber, sweet corn, yam, fermented soybean and other pickled vegetables. Eggs or tofu can also be used as fillings.

iv. Sauce: The sauce can be soy sauce, citrus-based ponzu sauce or Japanese-style mayonnaise. The sauce you use depends on your taste.


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The process may look difficult but it is easy, you have to get all your ingredients ready and prepped. If you are using grilled fish, you can grill and cut out the part you will need for the sushi. Cut the vegetables if your filling ingredient is vegetable and wash your bamboo mat(if you are using a mat). You do not need to soften the nori because the water from the rice will soften it and make it easy to be rolled. If all your ingredients are prepped and ready, you will not waste a lot of time in making your own sushi at home.


This method of having the rice inside the nori sheet is called the Maki sushi or the traditional method of making sushi.

1. Spread the rice: Place the bamboo mat on a clean surface and put the nori on the mat, the rough side of the nori should be up and the lines of the nori sides should be same as the mat’s. Add a cup of sushi on the nori and using a paddle, spread out the rice to cover the surface of the sheet. If you go not have a paddle, you can use a spatula. You can also use your cleaned hands to help spread the rice very well.

If you want other side of your nori to have rice, you have to spread the rice very well to every edge of the sheet. But if you want the traditional sushi, leave out ½-inch edge of nori to help seal the roll.

2. Fill the sushi: You can cut your fillings into strips while prepping them, this will give the sushi roll a beautiful look when you cut it. From the edge closest to you, start to lay the fillings horizontally. Make sure they are not far from each other but close to be seen in every cut. You can sprinkle salt if you wish.

3. Roll it tight: Still from the end where you started putting the fillings, lift up the mat from the edge to bring the innermost edge of the rice and nori up over the fillings. This should be done gently and carefully. Continue to use the mat to roll the nori into a circular shape while the ingredients are tucked inside it. 
As you roll the mat, squeeze the nori gently to make the roll tight. If your roll is not tight, your ingredients can easily fall out or the sushi can break.

4. Seal the roll: You should seal the roll after you have carefully folded the ingredients. Hold the roll in one and and wet the other hand. The wet hand should be run on the edges of the nori sheet to make it soft and moist. When it is moist, the edges can easily seal together. Press the sealed edges outside with your wet finger gently to be sure it is sealed properly. Your sushi is ready to be cut.


You can roll your sushi if you do not have the bamboo mat. The bamboo mat does not add any taste to the food, it is just to make the rolling process easier. However, you can roll your sushi with a parchment paper.

1. Place the parchment paper on a clean surface. 

2. Carefully place the nori sheet on the parchment paper, the rough side of the sheet should be up. So, the paper should be bigger than the nori sheet with few inches.

3. Pour a cup of rice on the sheet and carefully spread with a paddle or spatula. You can use your hands to evenly spreads the rice all over the sheet.

4. Arrange your fillings in a horizontal line. If you have more than one filling, you can stack the on top of each other. Start from the edge closest to you.

5. Roll the nori into the first roll by using the parchment paper as a leverage. Squeeze the roll tight to make sure the ingredients are carefully tucked into the sheet.

6. Wet one of your hands while the other holds the rolled sushi. Touch the edges of the nori sheet with the wet hands to soften it before you place it over the roll to seal the sushi.

7. Carefully run your wet hand all through the edge to make it properly sealed. You can cut your sushi after this.


The Uramaki sushi is called the inside out method because the rice is seen outside the nori while the fillings are inside. 

i. Sprinkle and flip: Place the nori sheet on the bamboo mat and pour a cup of rice on it. Using a paddle or a spatula, spread the rice all over the sheet. You can use your hand to evenly spread the rice as well. To decorate the rice, sprinkle little amount of toasted black sesame seeds on the rice.

Place a transparent wrap or sheet on the rice and gently turn the nori sheet, this will make the rice to face the mat while the blank nori is upside. The transparent wrap is used to prevent the rice from touching or getting stuck to the mat.

ii. Fill the sheet: Carefully place the fillings horizontally on the sheet. Proper care must be taken when filling the sheet because they may fall out easily as there is no rice to hold them. You can sprinkle salt on the fillings to add to the taste, this is optional.

iii. Roll the mat: Gently lift the edge of the mat closest to you and roll the sheet. Be careful so as not to shift the ingredients. Squeeze the sheet as you roll to make it tighter and keep the filling in place. Be careful not to allow the transparent wrap get tangled with the mat. After rolling, your sushi is ready. You do not have to wet the edge or seal because the sticky rice will easily hold the roll.


The seaweed or nori is used to help hold the ingredients and rice while you roll the sushi, it does not give sushi the amazing taste it has. Not everyone likes eating seaweed, the taste may not be good for the mouth so the best way to enjoy your sushi if you do not lie nori is to roll sushi without it. Of course it is possible but you have to be extra careful while at it. There are 3 other substitutes you can use for making your sushi. 

1. Cucumber: Using cucumber for your sushi means you have to get the long ones with pliable flesh that will be enough to roll your sushi. Wash the cucumber and peel the skin. Use a long knife to unroll the cucumber into a mat. Then you can place your rice and fillings on the cucumber before rolling.

2. Fish or meat: If you are using any of this, be sure to use the fleshy part that will easily give you a sheet. You must be skilled in using knife to be able to make a sheet out of fish or meat.

3. Other wrappings: You can use inari which is a deep fried tofu that is cut and opened to have pouches. The pouch is meant for the rice and fillings. Before using the inari, you will have to soak them in boiling water for 2 minutes and left in a colander to drain off excess water. Using salt, sugar and mirin, make a soup and boil the inari in it for 20 minutes. After the inari is cool, you can then use it for your sushi.

Rice paper is another wrap that can be used for sushi. Before using rice paper, you should soak the wrap inside warm water for 2 minutes. If it stays longer, the paper will easily rip up. Soy wrappers made with soy flour can be used also. The wrapper has no taste so your sushi flavor is intact. Just soak in water for few minutes in order to hydrate it and make it easier to be rolled.


Sushi is a traditional food from Japan but it is very delicious and versatile. It can be paired with any sauce of your choice. The food is made with rice, fillings and nori sheet. Due to differences in taste, nori sheet can be replaced with fish, meat, cucumber or other wrappers. Making your own sushi is very easy if you follow the steps carefully and have all your ingredients. Now having known how to roll sushi, You can try making homemade sushi with twists to the fillings.

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