Sushi Roll vs Hand Roll | New Trend meets Old Tradition

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  November 28, 2020

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There are many varieties of sushi.

They can vary according to the ingredients they contain and the way they are prepared.

When thinking of preparation, sushi can be rolled on a mat or it can be hand-rolled.

Sushi roll vs hand roll

What’s the difference between a sushi roll and a hand roll?

Sushi that is made with a sushi roll (mat) is called maki (which means ‘to roll’ in Japanese) while sushi that is hand-rolled is called temaki (so named due to its conical shape).

But their differences don’t end there.

This article will take a look at both types of sushi so you know what to expect when you order them at your favorite Japanese restaurant.

What is Maki?

There are different types of maki available but each will have a few key characteristics.

Maki is typically made with vinegary rice and wrapped in a seaweed roll called nori. A variety of vegetables and fish are added.

Maki is prepared as a long roll that is then cut into 6-8 pieces.

These pieces are usually eaten with a pair of chopsticks. While one person may eat all the pieces themselves, they can also be shared among friends.

What is Temaki?

Temaki is kind of like maki in burrito form.

It is made of many of the same ingredients as it features fish and vegetables wrapped in nori. However, unlike maki, rice is not a staple ingredient.

Once temaki is rolled in its seaweed sheet, the sheet is not cut.

Rather, it is rolled into a conical shape that can then be eaten using hands instead of chopsticks. It is meant to be eaten by one person and not shared by friends.

The result is a similar great tasting item that’s more casual, and, dare I say, more fun to eat.

Also read: 21 most popular different types of Sushi | Traditional Japanese & American.

How to Make Maki

Now that we have established that the key difference between maki and temaki lies in the preparation, let’s look at how each is made, starting with maki.

The key to making a good sushi roll is making a good vinegar rice.

This may take some amount of experimentation as you balance sticky white rice with the right amount of sushi vinegar to get the perfect blend.

Tip: It is recommended to use just over a half cup of vinegar for every 2 cups of rice.

Simmer the vinegar on the stove with a tsp. of salt and a ¼ cup of white sugar. Once the sugar dissolves, pour the mixture over the rice.

Once you have achieved the right balance, you are ready to roll (well maybe not quite, but you’re getting closer!).

Typically, you will start by placing the nori on a bamboo mat, or sushi roll.

Next, you add the rice and your preferred ingredients. These may include a variety of vegetables and fish.

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Once all the ingredients are added, roll up your mat so that the sushi forms a circular shape.

Hold it for a few seconds to allow it to firm up. Then release.

The end result will be a long roll that can then be chopped up to make maki.

How to Make Temaki

Temaki makes a more casual meal and the preparation is not as formal either.

The roll’s cylindrical shape means you don’t have to worry too much about overfilling.

It is important to remember that the roll will be closed at the bottom and open at the top. Therefore, you will want to start at a 45-degree angle (kind of like an ice cream cone).

Once all your fillings are added, roll it up nice and tight and serve immediately.

Although maki and temaki can be made using the same ingredients, temaki rolls typically have fewer raw or uncooked ingredients.

They also rarely feature rice. Therefore, they may be a bit dry. Feel free to add sauces of your choice.

Check these 9 best Sushi Sauces You Must Try (+ recipes) for inspiration!

You can also add raw veggies, sprouts, seeds, salmon roe, and other garnishes to the top to make the temaki look more attractive while boosting the nutrition factor.

Hand Rolled vs. Sushi Rolled: Their origin

When sushi first appeared, it was not in the form of maki or temaki.

Rather, it was born out of an ancient custom of using vinegar rice to preserve fish.

People found that this process made both fish and rice taste delicious.

Nori was invented much later on in the mid 18th century.

People began using it to wrap rice and other food items so it was only a matter of time before it became a vital sushi ingredient.

People enjoyed eating sushi in this form because it allowed them to enjoy the fish and the rice at the same time.

Temaki didn’t come out until much later. In fact, it was mostly unheard of until the 20th century.

Its exact origins are unknown and it was likely to have been inspired by cultural dishes like burritos. It is quickly becoming the next new food trend.

Common Types of Maki

There are many types of sushi. The most popular include the following.

Common Types of Temaki

Temaki is a type of sushi. Therefore, there are really no types or subcategories to speak of.

However, a wide variety of ingredients are used to make the dish, including umeshiso, a paste made of fresh shiso leaf, negitoro, squid (with and without natto) sweetened omelet, and umeboshi (pickled plum).

Looking at temaki restaurants, here are a few popular items on the menu.

  • Naturo Roll: Tuna, salmon, kani, avocado and tobiko
  • New Dragon Roll: Salmon and yellowtail topped with tuna, avocado, and eel sauce
  • Fire Phoenix Roll: Cream cheese, cucumber, asparagus topped with salmon, jalapeno, and spicy chili sauce

Hand Rolled vs. Sushi Rolled: Nutrition

If you are wondering which would win out when it comes to nutrition, maki or temaki, it really depends on the ingredients that are being used.

Maki may be more healthful because it tends to contain fresher fillings.

Temaki, on the other hand, does not always contain rice. This may make it a favorite for those trying to avoid carbs.

In general, both temaki and maki are healthy foods.

They are made with fish and vegetables. Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals while fish is rich in omega fatty acids.

Nori is also rich in vitamins and minerals and is known for being a great source of iodine, folate, calcium, and magnesium.

Temaki is the Hot New Trend

Although temaki may have originated in Japan, it is growing in popularity all around the world.

People love it because it incorporates many healthy, fresh ingredients in one edible item.

In this way, it is comparable to the ‘fresh bowl’ trend that proceeded it. It is also a favorite because it provides a ‘taco party’ feel whenever it is served.

The trend has inspired many temaki restaurants to open across the United States.

It is served at grab and go casual diners as well as high-end restaurants. When served gourmet fashion, it is often prepared in small portions with fine ingredients.

Restaurants have also introduced the sushi burrito which is similar to temaki only it is a neater, more compact version of the dish.

Temaki is a great way to enjoy sushi. With a variety of ingredients in a fun, single-serve portion, it is taking the world by storm.

The questions remains however: Is Sushi Chinese, Japanese or Korean? It’s Not as obvious as you think.

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

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.