Sushi, Makizushi and Nigiri Zushi

It was my leaving lunch last Wednesday because my last day in work was last Thursday (eek, I’m now ‘free’!).  We had a picnic lunch in the office as I’m not drinking and don’t have anyone to look after our daughter in the evening so couldn’t do the usual night out in Bath.

I decided to bring sushi, Makizushi to be accurate, but first I need to explain a bit more about sushi.

What’s Sushi, Makizushi and Nigiri Zushi?


When I mentioned at work that I was bring in sushi everyone commented that I was bringing in raw fish.  Frequently we use the term ‘sushi’ very broadly to describe anything Japanese and mainly if it has raw fish.


In the Western world, this is often referred to as ‘sushi rolls’ but the Japanese style is much more traditional than you might be used to.

Makizushi is made with a small flexible bamboo mat. A sheet of dried seaweed called ‘nori’ is put onto the mat and then the rice is laid over the top. The rice itself is a special vinegared variety made just for sushi which sticks together more than other types. The other ingredients are then put in a line in the middle of the rice and the whole thing is tightly rolled together, using the mat for support.Makizushi

Nigiri Zushi

Other than perhaps the rolls, the one you are probably most familiar with is the small rectangle of rice with a slice of raw fish on top. This is actually called ‘nigiri zushi’, which literally means ‘handmade sushi’.  The sushi rice is pushed into a shape with the palm of your hands. Then often a little dab of wasabi is put on top and then the piece of fish is draped over the rice.  The most common toppings you will have come across are seafood ones – salmon, tuna and prawn. There are also options like avocado, tofu, egg, and mushrooms.

So, I’m guessing you are thinking Makizushi is quite difficult to make?  

…Nope! It’s seriously easy!

What do you need?

  • Sushi Nori (sheets of roasted seaweed),
  • Makisu (bamboo sushi-rolling mat)
  • Shamoji (wood rice paddle)
  • Saucepan / rice cooker
  • Big bowl

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • Sushi rice, 360g
  • Water, 560ml
  • Sushi vinegar, 60ml
    • 4 Tbsp rice vinegar
    • 3 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • Thin strips of any of the following:
    • avocado
    • cucumber
    • mayonnaise
    • egg / omelette cooked with a dash of soy sauce
    • shrimp
    • crab stick
    • wilted spinach gently sauce in a little sesame oil
    • saute carrots in sesame oil, to take out the crunch
  • Soy sauce, for dipping
  • Wasabi, for dipping


Sushi rice and bamboo matTo make the vinegared sushi rice:

  • Place the rice and water in a rice cooker and cook the rice.
  • Combine all the sushi-vinegar ingredients in a cup and heat in the microwave at 500W for one minute. Be careful not to boil the mixture.
  • Transfer the rice to a big bowl. Pour the sushi-vinegar mix over the rice with a wood rice paddle (shamoji) until the rice is coated.  Don’t stir the rice, cut through it in a fast slashing motion. While mixing the rice, use a small fan to help cool it down. Or you can ask someone to fan the rice with a folded newspaper. This makes the sushi rice shiny. Continue mixing until all the rice vinegar has been absorbed. Be careful so that the rice doesn’t turn mushy.
  • Wait until the rice has cooled before eating. Do not put the rice into the refrigerator or it will harden.

To make makizushi:

Ready to make

Contents of the bowls: avocado drizzled with lime juice, cucumber strips, wilted spinach and sauted carrots, rice and vinegared water

  • Place the bamboo mat down and place a sheet of toasted nori on the mat, ensuring that the shiny toasted side is facing down.
  • Get approx 200g of sushi rice and carefully spread a layer of sushi rice over the nori, approx 9mm thick.  When handling the rice always wet your hands with vinegared hand dipping water, otherwise it sticks! Leave a slight gap at the edge the farthest from you.  Brush a little water on small the nori gap.
  • Place your filling(s) across the centre of the rice. Ensure they are free of excess moisture.
    avocado-mayo sushi

    Ready to roll with an avocado and mayonnaise filling

  • Carefully begin rolling the bamboo mat from the edge nearest you, using your fingers to keep the fillings tucked in.  Press down tightly and evenly, but don’t press too hard otherwise the rice and filling will come out of the sides.
  • When the bamboo mat has almost enveloped the sushi, pull out the end of the mat so it’s not rolled up in the sushi. Keep adjusting the mat so it’s always free.
  • Gently roll the sushi around in the mat to make sure the end is sealed (with the little water you brushed it with earlier).  Then take the sushi out of the mat.Rolled Sushi
  • Cut the roll in half, using a sharp knife that has been dipped in vinegared hand dipping water. Cut each half into thirds. It’s important to remoisten the knife after each cut.
  • Serve up and enjoy!

Makizushi ready to eat