Sushi roll vs hand roll | New trend meets old tradition

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You’ve seen both on the sushi menu, right? A sushi roll or maki roll and a hand roll. So what are they exactly?

Sushi rolled with a bamboo mat is called “maki” (which means “to roll” in Japanese), while sushi that’s hand-rolled is called “temaki” (named after its conical shape). Both the sushi roll and hand roll are sushi and contain the same ingredients. Hand rolls are larger and often contain multiple ingredients.

But their differences don’t end there. In this article, I’ll look at both types of sushi, so you know what to expect when you order them.

Sushi roll vs hand roll

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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’s 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, maki can also be shared among friends.

What is temaki?

Temaki is kind of like maki in burrito form.

It’s made of many of the same ingredients, as it features fish and vegetables wrapped in nori.

However, unlike maki, rice isn’t a staple ingredient.

Also, once temaki is rolled in its seaweed sheet, the sheet isn’t cut. Rather, it’s rolled into a conical shape that can then be eaten using hands instead of chopsticks.

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

The key to making a good sushi roll is making 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’s 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 ¼ cup of white sugar. Once the sugar dissolves, pour the mixture over the rice.

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

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

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

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 isn’t as formal either.

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

It’s important to remember that the roll will be closed at the bottom and open at the top. Therefore, you’ll 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 wasn’t 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’s likely to have been inspired by cultural dishes like burritos. It’s quickly becoming the next new food trend!

Common types of maki

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

  • Makizushi: This sushi features the classic formula of wrapping rice and another ingredient in nori. With makizushi, there’s typically only 1 ingredient besides the rice, usually fresh tuna, cucumber, or pickled daikon. Fatter varieties of makizushi are called futomaki.
  • Uramaki: When sushi was first introduced to the Western world, people had problems adapting to a food that was wrapped in seaweed. Uramaki featured rice on the outside and the seaweed on the inside to make it more palatable to the burger and fries eating crowd. Common types of uramaki include the California roll, the dragon roll, and the spider roll.
  • Nigiri: Nigiri differs from other types of sushi in that there’s no nori involved. Rather, it’s simply a ball of rice pressed into a rounded rectangle shape. A single ingredient is placed on top of the rice, typically a piece of thinly sliced raw fish.
  • Tempura: Tempura is basically fried sushi. Before rolling, the fish and vegetables are fried in a batter that’s then used in the roll. The fried food can be used in any type of sushi, but it’s then considered to be served “tempura style”.

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, and asparagus, topped with salmon, jalapeno, and spicy chili sauce.

Hand-rolled vs. sushi rolled: Nutrition

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

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

Temaki, on the other hand, doesn’t 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’re 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’s 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’s comparable to the “fresh bowl” trend that proceeded it. It’s also a favorite because it provides a “taco party” feel whenever it’s served.

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

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

Restaurants have also introduced the sushi burrito, which is similar to temaki, only it’s 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-sized portion, it’s taking the world by storm!

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

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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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.