The maki sushi, is a Japanese culinary specialty in the form of a roll of dried nori seaweed surrounding white rice mixed with sweet rice vinegar, and stuffed with various foods, especially raw fish or vegetables.
- The maki, famous small Japanese rolls
- The tasting of a maki
- How to make maki sushi?
- The different types of maki
- Variants of maki
The maki, famous small Japanese rolls
You’ve all eaten them before and at least seen them before. These small Japanese rice rolls called maki sushi “巻き寿司” are very popular out of Japan. You can find them in all Japanese restaurants accompanied by miso soup. By the way, we can deplore the poverty of the menus of these same restaurants. No wonder that most people think that Japanese people only eat sushi. In Japan, maki is also very common, we can eat it almost everywhere. You can find it in restaurants, izakaya (Japanese bars), conbini (local supermarket), sushiya (sushi restaurants), bento…
A maki is a small roll of vinegared rice called “sumeshi” ” 酢飯 ” or “shari” ” しゃり ” rolled in a sheet of nori ” のり ” and filled with different ingredients including fish, eggs, vegetables etc. We will see the different varieties of maki below.
The maki came much later. Indeed, the maki with its rolled up nori sheet was invented in order not to dry out the rice and to preserve itself over time. This long roll of maki was only cut when it was time to eat. Another version says that it is thanks to the yakuza that maki were invented, because they could not play cards while eating nigiri sushi. So they invented maki, more convenient to eat.
The tasting of a maki
Although Japanese people like to eat maki with their fingers, you can eat it with Japanese chopsticks if you wish. Maki is best eaten with fresh wasabi and soy sauce. The freshness of the products is essential to make excellent maki. The making of the Japanese rice is also very important. We don’t choose just any rice and it is essential to make it perfectly, the maki sushi will be even better!
For an optimal tasting I advise you to cut your maki rolls at the last moment. This will prevent the rice from drying out and they will be shiny and therefore more pleasant to the eye.
How to make maki sushi?
Here are the key steps to follow if you want to have tasty maki that hold well:
Step 1: First of all, you need to have all the ingredients you need to make your maki and prepare the sushi rice.
Step 2: Then lay out the rice in a thin layer on a sheet of nori. Be careful to put the rice on the right side of the sheet. The shiny side of the sheet should be on the outside.
Step 3: Then put the ingredients of your choice on the rice and roll it up with a sushi mat called makisu “巻き簾”.
Step 4: Roll the whole thing up, holding your roll firmly. Be careful not to crush this one too much either, it will make the ingredients come out.
Step 5 : Apply pressure from the center to the ends of the roll to get a uniform roll that holds together when cut.
Step 6: Use a very sharp knife to cut small, even rolls. Hold the roll firmly where you cut it with your other hand.
When working with rice, always have a damp cloth handy. Having wet hands will prevent the rice from sticking, which is much more convenient for working in good conditions.
The different types of maki
There are different versions of maki and some characteristics allow to distinguish them. First of all the shape, it is either round or cone shaped. We have seen so far the round shape called maki. The cone shape is called temaki “手巻き” and contains much more stuffing. Here’s a picture on the right.
One of the important variables is the size of these rolls. The diameter is very important and determines 3 distinct types of maki.
1 Hoko maki “細巻き” are the thinnest and most common in Europe, they usually contain only one ingredient and their diameter measures 2 cm.
2 Naka maki “中巻” have a larger diameter and contain more ingredients and have a diameter of about 3 cm.
3 Futo maki “太巻き” are the largest with a diameter of over 4cm. They include many ingredients and are usually more stylish. Indeed, many restaurants offer futo maki with designs.
There are also “ura maki” “裏巻き” better known as “california roll” featuring a layer of rice around each roll.
This model of maki is a Californian creation as its name indicates. The principle of ura maki is to keep the nori sheet inside the roll. You can see an example on the right with salmon, avocado and sesame seeds.
Variants of maki
There are so many kinds of maki that it would be useless to try to list them all. Especially since new recipes are coming out very regularly. Among the most recurrent ingredients we find most of the fish and shellfish, vegetables, meat, eggs of all kinds, seaweed…
More recently and in another register, we can mention the onigirazu which is a kind of sandwich made of rice surrounded by a nori sheet.
It is difficult not to find your happiness among the multitude of variants of maki that can be made on the basis of rice with vinegar, raw fish and vegetables.
Don’t confuse Japanese maki with Korean gimbap. Both are very similar in appearance but differ in the way they are made.
Among the differences we could say that Japanese use vinegar rice while Korean use sesame oil or shiso leaves.
Moreover, it is often served with kimchi (vegetable chili).