Salmon and avocado ready to roll into temakizushi
Food & Drink Japan

Temakizushi: How to Host a Japanese-Style Sushi Party

Hosting a sushi party may seem like a daunting prospect but it's actually surprisingly easy.  Learning how to make temakizushi, hand-rolled sushi, was probably the most useful thing we took away from several years living in Japan.  It takes minimal effort and the results are delicious.

The Japanese concept of a party is distinctly different from what you may be used to. As long as you have at least two guests visiting, in Japan it counts as a party. This may be due to the tiny shoe-box accommodation for which Japan is famous, where, unless you're keen on playing sardines, you couldn't reasonably expect more than a handful of friends to fit inside at any one time.

Once you have some guests, you'll need some sushi. Many people believe that sushi is synonymous with raw fish. While it does often incorporate fish, the defining aspect of sushi is the rice. Without vinegared rice, it's not sushi.

Tuna, seaweed, soy sauce and other temakizushi ingredients

Temakizushi Ingredients

How To Make Rice For Temakizushi

To get authentic 'sticky rice', you'll need to start with the correct type of rice. You can find suitable sushi rice by the bucketload in any Asian import shop or the international specialities section of your local supermarket. The latter comes in smaller quantities and tends to be more expensive.

Temakizushi Rice (serves 4)

2 cups (400 mls) sushi rice

2 ¾ cups (550 mls) water

Rinse the rice. Put the rice and water in a large saucepan, stir, and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

Cover the pot and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce to a low heat and simmer until the water is absorbed. This usually takes around 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and leave the rice to stand, still covered, for another 15 minutes.

Bowl of sushi rice

Sushi Rice

The All Important Sushi Vinegar

50 mls rice vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Set aside to cool.

Pour over the hot rice and mix with a slicing and flipping action.

Temakizushi Fillings

You'll need some fillings for your sushi. Your local fishmonger may have a limited supply of sashimi grade (raw) fish, usually tuna or salmon, but this is by no means the only option. Smoked salmon, prawns and tuna mayo all make very respectable alternatives or you can be a little more creative. Chicken and pulled pork are delicious and surf and turf combinations are extremely popular.

Add some vegetables to complement the main fillings. Avocados, cucumber and peppers work well, but pretty much anything goes.

Temakizushi toppings: sashimi, sushi rice and vegetables


Temakizushi: Roll Your Own Sushi

Temakizushi is the perfect choice for a sushi party. Much like a Japanese version of fajitas, the best thing is that your guests can roll their own. It's all part of the experience, a lot of fun and requires almost nothing in the way of culinary ability from the host. Just put all of the elements out on the table and let people help themselves.

You'll need nori (toasted seaweed) to hold the sushi together. You should be able to buy this in any large supermarket. Nori sometimes comes in pre-cut squares but if not, larger sheets are easily broken up. Somewhere around 10cm x 10cm is ideal.

Put a small amount of rice on top of the nori, add the filling of your choice, and roll. Simple.

Sushi rice on nori used to make temakizushi

1. Add Sushi Rice

Sushi rice, sashimi and avocado on nori used to make temakizushi

2. Add Toppings

Salmon and avocado temakizushi partly rolled

3. Start Rolling

Salmon and avocado temakizushi fully rolled

4. Ready For Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

Once rolled, dip the temakizushi in soy sauce before eating. Each person usually has an individual dish for soy sauce next to their plate. Some people like to mix wasabi in with the soy sauce. Much like Marmite, wasabi is one of those things that people either love or hate, so make sure this is optional.

Pickled Ginger

Sushi often comes with pickled ginger, which you should eat between pieces of sushi.  This cleanses the palate so you can fully appreciate the flavours of each different type of filling. In our experience, whilst guests may politely try this once nobody seems particularly keen so skip this step if you like.

Essential Temakizushi Checklist

Sushi Rice

Nori Seaweed

Fillings: fish, meat, vegetables

Soy Sauce

Rice Vinegar



Wasabi (optional)

Pickled Ginger (optional)

What To Drink At A Temakizushi Party

Of course, no party would be complete without copious amounts of alcohol. Whilst most people consider sake the quintessential Japanese drink, beer is more commonly consumed at parties. Japanese beer is generally uninspiring and any light lager will do. Share each bottle between the group, served in the smallest glasses you can find. It is considered rude to pour your own drink, so pour for the rest of the group and hope that someone repays the favour.

All that's left is to eat, drink and enjoy!

Found a winning sushi combination? Leave a comment. We'd love to hear your ideas!

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