Maki: What Is It Exactly And What Does It Mean?

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Maki is a Japanese dish that consists of sushi rice and various other fillings, rolled up in nori (seaweed) and then sliced into bite-sized pieces. Maki can be made with a variety of fillings, including seafood and vegetables, and is traditionally a thin roll with nori on the outside.

What is maki

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What does “maki” mean?

The word “maki” refers to the process of rolling sushi, not the dish itself. The word “maki” comes from the verb “maku,” which means “to roll.” So, when you see the word “maki” on a menu, the sushi will be rolled up.

Types of maki

There are different types of maki, depending on how they are rolled. Some of the most common types of maki include:

Hosomaki: These are thin rolls with nori on the outside and only one filling in the center. The most common type of hosomaki is the cucumber roll, or “kappa maki.”

Futomaki: These are thicker rolls that have multiple fillings in the center. Futomaki are usually cut into small pieces, since they can be quite filling.

Uramaki: These are rolls with the rice on the outside and the nori on the inside. Uramaki are often filled with vegetables or fish.

Temaki: These are “hand rolls” that consist of a cone of nori filled with sushi rice and other ingredients. Temaki are usually made to order, since they are best when they are fresh.

Maki is a popular dish because it is relatively easy to make and can be very customizable. You can use a variety of different fillings, depending on your preferences. Maki is also a convenient dish to eat, since it can be eaten with your hands and doesn’t require any utensils.

What’s the origin of maki?

The first recorded mention of maki in Japan was in the early 1800s. It’s said that it was invented as a way to easily eat the rice dish with your hands. It wasn’t until the Meiji period (1868-1912) that sushi became popular in Japan.

Sushi was originally eaten as a fast food, since it was convenient to eat on the go. However, over time sushi has become a more refined dish and is now considered a gourmet food. Maki is now commonly served in Japanese restaurants around the world.

Also read: Is sushi actually Chinese or Japanese?

Maki ingredients

As we mentioned before, maki is traditionally made with sushi rice and nori. However, there are a variety of other ingredients that can be used in maki.

These extra ingredients are called Sushi Neta (寿司ネタ) and that term encompasses everything you can put in your sushi.

The vinegared rice on the inside is called Sushi Meshi or sumeshi (すし飯), sometimes mistakenly called shari (actually the term for sushi meshi that’s been formed into the ball for nigiri).

What’s the difference between maki and sushi?

Maki and sushi are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two dishes. Sushi is a general term for any dish made with vinegared rice. This can include maki, nigiri, sashimi, and other dishes.

Maki specifically refers to sushi that has been rolled up in nori. So, all maki is sushi, but not all sushi is maki.

What’s the difference between maki and nigiri?

Nigiri is a type of sushi that consists of a ball of sushi rice with a piece of seafood or other topping on top. Maki, meaning “to roll”, is the sushi rice rolled inside nori seaweed.

Maki etiquette

If you’re eating maki in Japan, there are some etiquette rules to follow. First, it’s considered polite to eat maki with your hands instead of using chopsticks. This is because maki is traditionally a fast food dish that was meant to be eaten on the go.

Second, when eating maki, it’s considered polite to NOT dip the sushi in soy sauce, because the soy sauce is meant for fish only, like the nigiri with the fish-down or for sashimi. This is because you want to avoid getting the rice wet which can make it fall apart.

And finally, don’t forget to those chopsticks to eat the ginger that comes on the side. The ginger is meant to be eaten in between pieces of sushi to cleanse your palate.

Following these etiquette rules will help you enjoy your maki the way it’s meant to be eaten!

Is maki healthy?

Maki can be a healthy dish, depending on the ingredients you use. The rice in maki is usually flavored with vinegar, sugar, and salt, so it’s best to avoid eating too much of it.

The nori seaweed sheets are also high in salt, so it’s best to eat them in moderation. The fillings you use in your maki will also affect the overall healthiness of the dish.

If you’re looking for a healthy maki option, try using vegetables or fish as your fillings. These ingredients are low in calories and fat, and they’re a good source of protein and nutrients.

Also read: these are the amount of calories in sushi so you can choose the right ones


Maki is a very versatile roll you can put anything in, but it just scratches the surface of what sushi can be. So maki is the most common type of sushi we know, but certainly not the only one.

Read more: Kimbap vs sushi maki, what’s the difference?

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.