Maki Sushi with Shrimp, Avocado and Cucumber


Maki sushi is one of the staples in my house. I make sure I always have nori seaweed sheets, Japanese rice is my recent addiction, so I never run out of it, so I season it and then simply fill the rolls with whatever I find in the fridge. They make a perfect lunch, dinner, afternoon tea snack, they are great served at a party or at a picnic. Even though it is worldwide known the rolls should be freshly prepared, I love having the leftover maki for breakfast, taken straight out of the fridge and dipped in soy sauce (I know my Japanese friends will be outraged reading it, but I don’t even mind the chewy seaweed and hard rice). Apart from miso soup this is also the most soothing hangover morning meal I know. Contrary to the popular belief, if raw fish is not used, maki sushi make one of the cheapest meals I can think of (at least in Switzerland, where all the basic ingredients are available and not expensive).

The reason why I rarely post about these rolls is that dexterity is not my good side and they never look as perfect and neat as those seen on some friendly blogs. From time to time I decide to post about different maki versions even if they looks clumsy and messy, because the taste is still there (I have written about Asparagus Maki and Ground Beef Maki). Shrimp, avocado and cucumber is the filling I make very often, especially in spring and summer because it is particularly light and refreshing. I also practically always have all the necessary ingredients (the shrimp is frozen in small batches) and this is not accidental because I love them separately as well as combined together.

Since many people think maki sushi is extremely difficult and/or long to prepare, I would like to insist once more that it is absolutely false. Maybe the first rolling experience is a bit tricky because it’s a new technique to learn, but if I remember well, the second, third and fourth rolls are already easier and quicker to prepare. Of course, depending on your patience, skills and attention to details, the result will be more or less beautiful, but it is always rewarding and, for me, experimenting with new ingredients also means lots of fun. I start treating maki sushi a bit like sandwiches which can be made with practically anything.

If you don’t like this combination, you might prefer one of these:

Asparagus Maki Sushi
Asparagus Maki Sushi
Ground Spicy Beef Maki
Ground Spicy Beef Maki
Maki sushi with Canned Tuna and Cucumber
Maki sushi with Canned Tuna and Cucumber

TIPS: Since I am able to devour lots of maki, I reduce the rice amount in order to make them lighter and low-calorie. As you see on the photo above, contrary to the traditional maki, the filling takes here more space than the rice. If you prefer a standard, not lightened maki version, increase the rice amount (500 g or about 17,5 oz instead of 300 g or about 10,5 oz).

When you buy nori sheets, pay attention to their transparency and colour. I was told in Japan that darker and less transparent nori means better quality (of course there are more sophisticated criteria to judge the quality once the nori is dark and opaque enough to be considered good quality, but I found the above tip a good way to discard low-quality products).

I add sake to the rice mixture (I think it adds a pleasant aroma), but this is not the usual mixture recipe, so skip it if you want.

Special equipment:

rice cooker (unless you know how to cook the rice in a “normal” pan)

maki rolling mat 

a brush

Preparation: 20 minutes (+ 1 hour for rice rinsing, cooking, seasoning and cooling)

Ingredients (serves 3):

5 nori seaweed sheets

300g (about 10,5 oz) sushi rice (or 500g/about 17,5 oz if you prefer “standard”  rolls)

Rice mixture:

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

(1 tablespoon sake)

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

20 medium sized cooked shrimps (deveined and peeled); I need about 4 shrimps per sheet

1 big cucumber

1 avocado


grilled white sesame seeds

soy sauce+wasabi, marinated ginger

a small bowl of rice vinegar (for brushing and finger dipping)

Cook the rice in the rice cooker (or in a pan if you know how to do it). Put the hot rice into a bowl and add the rice mixture ingredients. Stir well and leave to cool down.

In the meantime cut the avocado flesh and cucumber into long pieces.

When the rice has cooled down to the room temperature (it can’t be completely cold, otherwise it won’t be sticky enough), put a nori sheet vertically on the rolling mat, shiny side down.

With fingers dipped in a bowl of rice vinegar spread 1/5th of the rice evenly, leaving a 1 cm gap on the top, far edge.

Arrange the filling ingredients on the rice, in a horizontal line, close to the bottom edge.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Roll the maki starting from the bottom edge, gently pressing after each turn.

Brush with rice vinegar the upper edge before doing the last turn (it will help to seal the roll).

Press gently the roll and put it aside.

In order to obtain more or less similarly sized pieces, cut the roll first in two parts, then put them in a row and cut them in two parts, etc.

(It is easier to cut the rolls with a moist knife blade.)

Arrange them on a plate and serve with wasabi, soy sauce and marinated ginger.




48 Replies to “Maki Sushi with Shrimp, Avocado and Cucumber”

  1. One of the easiest maki rolls for me to make at the last minute though I do leave out the cucumber as I don’t eat it regularly.

    1. What a coincidence! Although I must say that cucumber is the absolute number one in my meals in what comes to frequency.

      1. Cucumber doesn’t agree with me so, though I don’t mind eating rolls with it when I go out for sushi, I don’t include it in my rolls at home.

        If I ever get one of those fancy stands, I’ll make/post the hand rolls I sometimes make when I’m too lazy to do maki sushi. I haven’t made nigiri in ages either.

        I AM proud of my inari sushi though. 🙂

  2. I could do with some of that now! the weather’s been so hot I’ve been really discouraged to do any form of cooking that requires heat most of the time. I don’t make maki or sushi rolls often, because I always get tempted to just eat them at the stage where all the ingredients are cooked and ready heh, esepcially if they’re meant to be eaten at home. How do you resist.

    1. Thank you, Shuhan. I don’t resist! I always take a bit from time to time while I cut them… In general they are so refreshing and seem so light, I tend to eat tons of them (hence the reduced rice content and more of the innocent cucumber 😉 ).

  3. As you may know, there are three types of maki, hoso maki, chuu maki, and futo maki (細巻き, 中巻き, and 太巻き), that is, thin, middle, and thick. Yours look like chuu maki to me.

    I like your “more filling than rice” version!

    1. Hi, Hiroyuki. Thank you for this tip. I have never heard of chuu maki! (only futo maki and just maki). I was even wondering if I should call them futomaki, but futomaki are bigger as you say. Thank you for the names written in Japanese. I really appreciate them 🙂
      I must confess I’m addicted to the Japanese rice (I’m not surprised you have it in Japan for almost every meal! I could too!) and maki seem so light and innocent, I could eat dozens of them. Unfortunately I once counted how many calories I had in just one innocent maki lunch and I was so shocked, I started to make the low-carb, low-calorie version with more of cucumber, shrimps etc. Now I can indulge in maki with less guilt 😉
      UPDATE: sorry, I even didn’t know about hosomaki! I’m much wiser now thanks to you!

  4. I do like your “reduced-rice” maki 🙂
    I’ve always found that I can’t eat too many (which I’d love to) with too much rice filling me up too quickly.
    And for what it’s worth, I think your presentations are always so neat and delicate … the Japanese will be proud!

    1. Thank you, Ping, for such a kind compliment. I am however ashamed when I compare my rolls to the ones made by Japanese or Korean bloggers. Unfortunately I have always been able to eat lots of maki in spite of the big rice content and as I have just told Hiroyuki I got scared when I counted once the calories (from the point of view of calories+carbs it was almost like having a pizza!). This is when I started to make reduced-rice maki.

    1. Thank you so much, Barb. (You exaggerate of course!). It must be great fun to make them with children.

    1. Thank you so much, Hyosun. They will never even compare to your perfect, neat and professional rolls.

  5. Sissi, your maki rolls are always beautiful, and I laughed out loud while reading about you eating them for next day’s breakfast. I am guilty as charged, the seaweed might be harder to chew and the rice might not be as yummy, but who cares, they are MAKI ROLLS!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. I’m happy you don’t find them too ugly and messy (I do!). I really like making more of them and having them straight from the fridge for breakfast. They are the most refreshing, perfect summer breakfast. They cool one down, are filling. In short perfect.

  6. Sissi you rolled maki sushi so beautifully! Love how you put one piece showing the side. That’s a great shot! Thanks for the email and we’ll talk soon. I’m soooo behind~~~. lol.

    1. Thank you, Nami, for such compliments. I’m really flattered, but my maki will never look like yours: perfect, neat, as if they were straight from a restaurant.

  7. I love sushi rolls, they’re one of my favourite foods. Your rolls look delicious and pretty! I love how there’s not as much rice there, gives the roll a lot more flavour and makes me less full so I can eat more of it! 😀

  8. Sushi is also one of my favourite meals, and it’s healthy and light! I’m not sure about hangover meal though…the raw fish might make it worse!
    Like you Sissi, I don’t mind left over sushi as long as it’s been refrigerated properly. It is perfect party food.

    1. Hi, Eva. I have never tried making raw fish maki so I have no idea how these would impact a hangover 😉

  9. And you said dexterity is an issue here? You rolled these sushi perfectly and so beautifully, Sissi! Just like you, I would have them for breakfast too!

    ~ ray ~

  10. Your maki rolls looks delicious ! Looking at them makes me wanna make some myself 🙂 dip in wasabi and sauce…gosh , it is addictingly delicious ! whether it is overnight or freshly made 🙂 Have a nice day, Sissi

    1. Thank you so much, Elin. I’m happy I’m not alone not minding the leftover, second day maki.

  11. This version with shrimps is wonderful! Perfect summer food to enjoy on the balcony, with a glass of good white wine or some chilled sake.



  12. I am glad that you decided to post maki sushi, because i can use this idea to prepare bento lunch for my kids. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Hi Sissi,

    Isn’t sushi with “whatever” awesome? We made some maki rolls once with cold hotdog sausages, mayonnaise and avocado I think. Disgusting? No way! Absolutely amazing. It’s why I love some of the chains in France which really experiment a bit with sushi to make different types. They have tabbouleh maki, maki with grilled aubergine and miso paste, even foie gras – sooo delicious!

    I really recommend ones which are packed with fresh herbs – mint, coriander etc. Also, if you ever run out of nori you can make “spring roll style” sushi, using rice paper, with a piece of lettuce between the rice and the paper.

    You’ve done a really great job at rolling the sushi – I can usually not make them look so well done… my filling usually ends up on one side with the rice on the other and it’s starting to un-wrap because I put too much filling inside 😀

    Agreed as well – really great, frugal meal which is filling too, not to mention great fun to make!!

    1. Thank you so much, Charles. I’m really happy you find my maki aesthetic. I really have complexes when I see Nami’s or Hyosun’s perfect rolls… Just like you I put practically everything in my maki. I could probably post 30 different fillings if I started to take photos every time. Your hot dog sausages aren’t so surprising for someone who has filled maki with ground beef (I wrote about it above) 😉

  14. Sissi, you’re very talented in making these maki sushy rolls. Love the combination of the shrimp, avocado, and cucumber. I would need to go to an Asian market to get the most important product which would be the sushi mat and the seaweed sheets, and start making these at home. Thanks for sharing your amazing recipe and method!

    1. Thank you for the compliment. I still have a lot to improve the aesthetic side… Here also big supermarkets sell the basic products necessary to make maki (they are extremely popular). As soon as you buy the basics, you can play with any filling you want.

  15. Your rolls look better than any I’ve seen at restaurants! I am not a sushi eater but my husband is. I like the “cooked” rolls…or vegetarian. I think I would like these and I really do want to learn to roll. You make it sound easy so maybe I’ll give it a whirl.

  16. Dear Sissi,

    These rolls are so delicious but we never seem to need to make them at home because Japanese takeaway and sushi bars are so plentiful here because of the popularity of Japanese food and also fresh seafood.

    I usually have nori sheets in my pantry for the quick miso soup at home 🙂

    1. Thank you, Chopinand. I also have lots of takeaways here selling maki (the most popular part of the Japanese cuisine here), but first of all they are expensive (even as a takeaway), they are made of the cheapest Japanese-style rice grown in the US (and I buy quite a good quality rice, so I really feel the difference) and of course they have huge amounts of this cheap rice compared to the small amount of filling. Therefore, I prefer making my own maki, even if they don’t look as neat and professional as theirs.

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