It looks impressive, but a DIY Sushi Hand Roll Bar is actually one of the less complicated ways to host a party, for both the host and the guests. Most of the ingredients are raw (fish and seafood) and fresh (vegetables), so the most work you have to do as the host is cooking and making the sushi rice. You could even go so far as buying pre-cooked rice (not recommended, but not not recommended either).

Because hand rolls are literally rolled by and in your hands, there is no need for special tools like bamboo rolling mats. It’s all very casual for the guests.

If you have it in you to cook even a little, you can make Ginger Tamari Roasted Tofu and tamago, seasoned egg omelet, yourself, but even those are available ready-made at Japanese markets. Both the sesame baked tofu and the tamago in the photo above are store-bought.

Detailed how-to and recipes below. Shopping notes and resources follow.


serves 4


1 package toasted nori
4 cups sushi rice (cooked, seasoned rice, recipe below)

Fish and Seafood (pick 3-5, or everything, whatever)

  • cooked shrimp
  • 6 ounces salmon (raw, sashimi grade), sliced into 1/2-inch strips
  • 6 ounces tuna (raw, sashimi grade), sliced into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 cup spicy tuna [recipe below]
  • 4 ounces cooked crab
  • 1 small box uni (sea urchin)
  • various roe and caviar

Vegetarian Fillings

  • 4 ounces tamago (sweet, seasoned omelet recipe coming soon)
  • ginger sesame roasted tofu [recipe link below]
  • roasted beets

Fresh Vegetable Fillings

  • carrots, julienned and blanched
  • mango, sliced
  • avocado, sliced
  • cucumber, julienned
  • radishes
  • radish sprouts
  • seaweed salad


fresh shiso leaves
toasted sesame seeds
lemon, sliced or cut into wedges


soy sauce
pickled ginger


Place toasted nori, rice, and fillings in small bowls, on plates, and on serving platters. It is helpful to keep similar ingredients together, e.g. all the raw fish on one larger plate together, vegetarian fillings together. Let each person place about 2 tablespoons of sushi rice on a sheet of toasted nori, add their own fillings, and carefully “roll” into a cone.

Provide individual plates and small sauce bowls for soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger to each person eating.

Some suggested filling combinations:

  • spicy tuna + cucumber
  • salmon + avocado + mango
  • crab + avocado + cucumber (California roll)

sushi hand rolls

sushi hand roll ingredients

How to Make Sushi Rice (seasoned rice)

Cook medium- or short grain brown rice in your trusty little rice cooker.

For every 1 cup of cooked rice, gently stir/mix in:

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

My favorite rice is organic Kokuho Rose Brown Rice from Koda Farms, a California-based Japanese rice farm, who sells directly to consumers at the Santa Monica Farmers Market on certain Wednesdays and Hollywood Farmers Market on Sundays. I have seen 5-pound bags of the organic brown rice at Japanese grocery stores (Nijiya and Mitsuwa) and even at some Whole Foods Markets in Los Angeles.

Wash the rice in cold water until the water runs clear, then soak the rice in filtered water with a pinch of salt overnight before cooking.

I use an electric rice cooker by Cuckoo to cook Asian rice. It is the most ridiculously expensive single-function kitchen tool I own but I couldn’t successfully cook rice in a regular pot on the stovetop if my life depended on it.

I use organic brown rice vinegar. Currently I have a bottle of both Marukan brand and Eden Foods. Both of them are available at Whole Foods. I have also tried Kikkoman (not organic) and Nakano (organic). I can’t remember what these latter two tasted like, but let’s just assume they were unremarkable since I didn’t buy them again. If you cannot find rice vinegar, substitute apple cider vinegar. The flavor is different and the acidity is slightly stronger, but for handrolls, in which there are a lot of other ingredients, the taste of apple cider vinegar will be fine.

Spicy Tuna [recipe]

Stir together:

  • 4 ounces finely chopped sashimi grade tuna
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped, about two tablespoons of green parts only reserved for garnish
  • optional: you can stir in about 2 tablespoons Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise if you like the creamy style spicy tuna. I think mayo is disgusting; and with fish it’s absolutely revolting. But hey, everyone is different.

Ginger Tamari Roasted Tofu [recipe here]

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