Maki sushi, even though quite frequent on my table, tend to disappear before I even think about taking a photograph. They are quick, versatile, easy to experiment with and, most of all, they are simply irresistible. I don’t make perfectly shaped ones with sashimi grade raw fish, but everyday, casual, irregularly shaped tidbits. I fill them with whatever might suit vinegared rice wrapped in nori sheets. On the other hand, unlike most European restaurants – not to mention takeaway shops -, I always use good quality rice and now also excellent nori sheets I brought from Japan. This is much more important than neat shape or equal portions and since for me even messy-looking rolls are cute, I have never really made much effort to improve their aesthetic side.
Canned tuna paste (with mayonnaise and usually chives) is one of my most frequent fillings not only because I like it, but also because I have all the ingredients practically constantly in stock. Whether it’s canned in oil or water, my favourite tuna is the more expensive white one (albacore), but of course the darker one suits these maki too. I always add some crunchy raw cucumber, which pairs well with the creamy tuna paste. Sometimes I replace a part of tuna paste with avocado.
If you look for some other maki sushi ideas, you might like these too:
TIPS: As you see on the photo above, contrary to the usually sold maki, mine have more tuna and cucumber than 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 10,5 oz).
If you want to buy sustainably caught fish, check for special labels (such as MSC) or mention, such as “line caught” (the brands I buy are usually labelled with both). In Europe there is a big choice of such labels in organic food shops, but some are also sold in “standard” supermarkets.
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 cheap sake to the rice mixture (I think it adds a pleasant aroma), but this is not obligatory (most recipes don’t call for it), so skip it if you want.
rice cooker (unless you know how to cook the rice in a “normal” pan)
maki rolling mat
Preparation: 20 minutes (+ 1 hour for rice rinsing, cooking, seasoning and cooling)
Ingredients (serves 3):
5 nori seaweed sheets
300g (about 10,5 oz) uncooked sushi rice (or 500g/about 17,5 oz if you prefer “standard” rolls)
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
(1 tablespoon sake)
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 x 150-160 g (about 5-5.5 oz) can of tuna (preferably white and not shredded)
1 big cucumber
1 bunch of chives, chopped
grilled white sesame seeds
soy sauce+wasabi, marinated ginger
a tiny 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 cucumber into long pieces (I never peel the cucumber, but do it if you prefer).
Drain the tuna and shred it in a bowl combining with mayonnaise, chives and pepper.
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, if you use them.
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 the cut maki pieces on a plate and serve with wasabi, soy sauce and marinated ginger.