Asparagus Maki Sushi


After green salads, maki sushi are my second biggest spring cooking frenzy. I am not able to prepare perfectly shaped and equal rolls, but the taste is there, so my lack of dexterity doesn’t stop me from preparing them regularly (I guess I should write about them more often…). Maki sushi are quick (and become quicker and easier to prepare with practice), cheap, healthy and offer endless combinations. Crunchy, slightly blanched green asparagus gives a fresh seasonal spring touch to maki sushi and confirms once more that asparagus, in spite of its distinct taste, creates marvellous dishes even with such bold ingredients as seaweed. Here I have combined it with mayonnaise and katsuobushi (shaved bonito flakes, see below). I find the result extraordinary, but if you don’t like or cannot find shaved bonito, asparagus alone is an amazing maki sushi filler.

Even though I play rather freely with different ingredients, the idea of asparagus maki sushi came from Shizuoka Gourmet blog, an excellent source of virtual culinary  trips to Japan (or rather to the Shizuoka prefecture!). Without Robert-Gilles’s blog I would never imagine that asparagus and katsuobushi might be a perfect company. Its smoky taste, combined with crunchy fresh asparagus and mayonnaise is stunning. It’s a pity I cannot prepare these maki sushi all year round. Thank you, Robert-Gilles, for this wonderful idea!

If you are fond of asparagus, you might like some of these ideas (click at the images):

Tama Konnyaku with Asparagus
Tama Konnyaku with Asparagus
Chawan Mushi (Egg Custard) with Asparagus
Chawan Mushi (Egg Custard) with Asparagus
Asparagus with Chicken and Miso
Asparagus with Chicken and Miso
Asparagus Tempura
Asparagus Tempura
Asparagus Teriyaki Pork Rolls
Asparagus Teriyaki Pork Rolls
Asparagus with Cashew Nuts and Chicken
Asparagus with Cashew Nuts and Chicken


You might also like these sushi maki versions:

Ground Spicy Beef Maki
Ground Spicy Beef Maki
Maki sushi with Canned Tuna and Cucumber
Maki sushi with Canned Tuna and Cucumber
Maki with Shrimp, Avocado and Cucumber
Maki with Shrimp, Avocado and Cucumber

TIPS: As you see above, I prefer maki with less rice than usually served in restaurants and on most blogs, but if you prefer the “standard” rice amount, count 500g (about about 17,5 oz) rice and not 300g (about 10,5 oz).

Dried shaved bonito flakes (katsuobushi) are sold in bags in Japanese grocery shops. Together with konbu seaweed it is one of the ingredients of the most popular version of Japanese stock (dashi, see the recipe here). It cannot be substituted by anything, but if you don’t find it, these maki sushi will be excellent anyway.

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).

Sesame seeds are far from obligatory too. I am simply addicted…

Special equipment:

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

maki rolling mat or a special futomaki roller

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

Ingredients (serves 3):

5 nori seaweed sheets

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

Rice mixture:

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt


15 green thin asparagus spears (about 1 cm diameter), 3 for every nori sheet

10 heaped tablespoons katsuobushi


(grilled white sesame seeds)

soy sauce+wasabi

a bowl of rice vinegar

(marinated ginger)

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 off the toughest lower part of the asparagus spears (usually the lower 20%).

Blanch the asparagus spears (about 2 minutes) and let them cool down.

When the rice has cooled down to the room temperature (it can’t be completely cold!), 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.

Moist the upper edge with rice vinegar before doing the last turn.

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 maki with a moist knife blade.)

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

39 Replies to “Asparagus Maki Sushi”

  1. I like your idea of maki with less rice because this allows me to have more maki!
    I’m too lazy to make maki myself, and I usually prepare temaki ingredients, letting each diner make their own temaki. I usually put just a small amount of rice plus plenty of ingredients.

    1. Thank you, Hiroyuki. I am glad we think the same: this way we can have more maki sushi. I often take maki sushi for lunch to work, so temaki wouldn’t be very convenient, but I have been meaning to prepare temaki for months (or even years!) and somehow keep on forgetting. Maybe it’s a good idea for tonight! My husband will be happy! Thank you for reminding me.

  2. Great idea, Sissi. I rarely have vegetarian maki rolls but I think a couple or 3 blanched asparagus stalks would be a great filling, maybe with a bit of avocado and some spicy mayo. I love avocado in my sushi rolls. 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, A_Boleyn. These aren’t strictly vegetarian: there is shaved bonito inside too, but I usually prepare at least two kinds of maki sushi, so there is always at least one roll with meat or fish or seafood. I haven’t tasted avocado with asparagus yet, but it sounds tempting. I also like avocado in most kind of maki sushi fillings. It’s a perfect pairing with rice and nori.

  3. Sissi, your vegetarian sushi rolls look and sound so refreshing, light and delicious! No surprise that you would rather eat Asian cuisine at home (homemade)…than eat it out and not have the best quality and preparation that would suit your taste!

    1. Thank you so much, Elisabeth. I eat home mainly because of the low quality of Asian restaurants’ food and also because of prices… As I have just mentioned, these are not strictly vegetarian because there is shaved bonito (one of my favourite Japanese ingredients).

  4. Your maki sushi looks great…I love the lightness of it…I like the crunchy asparagus and the katsuobushi…very refreshing meal.
    Have a lovely week Sissi 🙂

    1. Hi, Juliana. I’m glad you like this spring maki sushi idea. Have a nice week too.

  5. What a lovely idea Sissi, I’m a huge sushi fan, back in university years I was making them twice a week, never tried one with asparagus though, but it sounds delicious 🙂 …and really like the idea of using less rice and more focussing on the filling.

    1. Thanks a lot, Gourmantine. I prepare them very often too, but they usually look even much worse than these so I’m a bit ashamed of making photos and posting them. I could eat tons of maki sushi, so when I started to count how much rice (and how many kcal) I can eat in one go, I decided to cut down the rice amounts 🙂

  6. This type of hors d’œuvres or snack is my ultimate favourite, because I can eat them relatively guilt free. The asparagus is a lovely change Sissi. I sometimes make mine inside out with the rice on the outside. Have you ever added puffed rice on the outside? It provides a lovely texture; I even had it once with puffed quinoa which was like puffed rice only small spheres (I have not found them in Toronto yet).
    The variations with crab are also wonderful, makes me want to revisit my menu plan on the weekend and have sushi for dinner one night.
    I was at a local gourmet grocery store and saw they had an incredible rice cooking machine that not only cooks the sticky rice perfectly but also lays them onto the seaweed sheet in perfect thickness and shoots them out ready to be rolled! How I would like such a machine!

    1. Hi, Eva. I have seen asparagus maki sushi only once, on Robert-Gilles’s blog, but otherwise I would never have dared I think… Somehow I have never made them inside out, but I like them a lot (especially with lots of sesame seeds outside). I have never thought of puffed rice or quinoa, thank you for the idea (I only use puffed rice for unbaked bars and truffles).
      I always add a small amount of rice (as you see on the photo, it’s not even half of the filling) because I love having lots of maki sushi and it has so many calories 😉 , so such a maki sushi function wouldn’t be useful for me. If one day you invest in a rice cooker, make sure it’s a good Japanese or Korean model (but I think the Japanese fuzzy logic is the best technology now). Other functions are not that important. Rice cooked in such a good rice cooker is incredible. I wish I could buy it here at a “normal” price (it costs more than twice as much as on US amazon…). I have a Western rice cooker, which was ok for the first 3 years, but now it’s been getting worse and worse. I really must buy a newer and Japanese model!

  7. I love sushi and recently I gave my son to taste and he loved it too! He is his mother’s child for sure haha! I don’t know how to make sushi and your rolls look amazing to me. I wish I could make them half as good as yours!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina. My maki sushi are really clumsy and cannot be compared to other bloggers’ artistic work! Making maki is really easy and gets easier every time. Making them perfectly neat is a bit difficult, but who cares?
      I am not able to post step-by-step photos, but you find lots of useful videos on internet. Do try making them! It’s so cheap and good!

  8. Beautiful picture – the bright green + plates and surroundings. Perhaps I should also compliment the delicious sushi – even though I can’t taste it:(
    “katsuobushi” – say it fast three times. Never heard of this word – are you sure its not a swear words. Sounds more like it than an ingredients.
    I’ve been missing in action – perhaps after this comments you will hope I go MIA again:)

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. I am flattered by your compliments! I am also very glad to see you back again! Katsuobushi is amazing… I have it always on my okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake) and with lots of other dishes. It’s addictive. I see you have also posted a new recipe! See you on your blog!

  9. I love maki too – any time of year! – in fact, I often pick it up following my morning work-out (I would never dare make it myself – heehee). I just seem to get cravings for it and it really hits the spot when you mix in the soy sauce and a touch of wasabi… mmm…mmm… it’s coming up to 10 pm here and I’m ready to roll ;-). I love the idea of asparagus here Sissi and it’s something I don’t come across very often – carrot and avocado are common additions here but the asparagus sounds so fresh and spring delightful! Looks so pretty too.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I used to be afraid of making maki sushi, but it proved so easy (although not as neat and perfect as in restaurants and sushi shops), cheap and convenient (the basic ingredients can always be kept in stock), I have practically stopped buying it. You should try one day, it’s so much fun!

    1. Thanks, Jed. It’s shaved, dried fish so it’s… fishy… A bit as if it was smoked, but the fish has never been smoked. I love it! It’s delicious sprinkled on top of most warm Japanese dishes.

  10. What a beautiful sushi roll! I’ve never had sushi with asparagus in it. It sure makes a delicious looking roll and your skill are rolling them is quite impressive.

    1. Hi, MJ. Thank you so much for kind compliments… I must disagree though: I consider myself a very clumsy and messy maki maker.

  11. I have a huge bundle of thin asparagus right now. I forgot about asparagus tempura. I should make it this week/weekend. My kids are not into asparagus, but they will definitely eat when it’s in sushi! Very nicely rolled Sissi. Two weeks ago I worked on sushi roll post too, and oh boy, it took me a while to get a perfect shot (okay, it’s not so perfect, but tried my best…). I pinned!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. I am not a good maki roller (no patience or discipline…) and I think they are difficult to photograph, especially when they are far from being neat and perfect, but I’m sure your maki sushi will be exquisite! With your dexterity and photographing skills…
      Asparagus tempura was for me a great discovery: one of the easiest tempuras I have ever made!

  12. Sissi, if I had to I think I could give this sushi a try. One of my daughters’ favourite going out treat is shrimp sushi – so you see you are not alone with the fascination of Japanese cooking. Palate preferences aside, the cleanliness of Japanese culture always appealed to me. Their dishes reflect care, order and artistry.

  13. Hi Sissi – I love how pretty the maki look, with the little cross-sections of asparagus inside. As someone else said above – with less rice as well, it can only mean one thing… “more maki” before one gets full :).

    I sometimes make maki from hotdog sausages (yeah, I know they’re not everyone’s idea of an ideal maki filling but with some cucumber they’re pretty good!) – I will remember to try it with aspargus as well next time!

    1. Thanks a lot, Charles. I have a big complex about my maki sushi, this is why I post them so rarely, even though I prepare them all the time and have dozens of different versions in my repertoire. Hotdog sausages sound delicious too! I think that maki sushi can be filled with almost everything (ground beef fried with Indian curry was sensational!).

  14. Pieknie wygladaja! Te szparagowe krazki w przekroju sa sliczne 🙂

    Pozdrawiam i milego weekendu zycze! :*

    1. Dziekuje bardzo za komplement. Maki sushi byly dla mnie okropnie trudne do sfotografowania (szczegolnie takie koslawe jak moje…). Milego weekendu!

    1. Thank you so much, Sue. Asparagus is definitely my favourite spring vegetable and one of the favourite in general.

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