Spicy Salmon Sushi Hand Roll (スパイシーサーモン手巻き寿司)
I’m not usually a big fan of salmon for sushi because of its strong taste but paired with some sweet minced onions and spicy yuzu kosho; it makes for a delicious mix that’s perfect for sushi. To make it easy to roll, I’ve turned this into a style of sushi called Temaki Sushi, which literally means “hand-rolled.” It requires no sushi mat, and they’re made by rolling a thin layer of rice with lots of filling into a cone. This also makes it easy to eat with your hands, which is why it’s often a popular choice for get-togethers here in Japan, so each person can roll whatever they want into their sushi.
Why This Recipe Works?
- Because this salmon sushi is rolled by hand into a cone, there’s no need for a sushi mat or any other special equipment, and the same makes it easier to eat without having all of the filling fall out the other end.
- Using yuzu kosho to season the spicy salmon brings the heat while adding the wonderfully fresh fragrance of yuzu zest to the roll.
- Shiokonbu infuses the fish with amino acids, which gives this salmon sushi a ton of umami.
Ingredients for Spicy Salmon Sushi
I often get asked what brands I recommend for specific ingredients, but food production in Japan is more fragmented than in other parts of the world. This means that some of the best products come from small mom-and-pop operations that are almost impossible to find outside of Japan.
That’s actually one reason I moved to Japan a decade ago: to explore the ingredients here. Unfortunately, there’s been a disconnect between the quality of the ingredients I’ve found and the ingredients you’ll be able to find where you live. To fix that, I’ve teamed up with Kokoro Care Packages to offer some of my favorite brands of food products in a care package that you can order for a limited time. This recipe uses four out of the five ingredients in this package, so get your order in before we run out.
- Salmon – I used a Japanese variety of salmon called Sakura Masu (literally Cherry Blossom Trout), but any salmon that’s safe to eat raw will work. You can check the FAQs below for more on salmon and sushi and how to find one that’s safe to use for sushi.
- Soy Sauce – Soy sauce is the main seasoning for this spicy tuna, and it not only contributes salt it also adds umami and a rich earthy flavor that compliments the salmon. The soy sauce I include in the package is made by a family-run brewery in Shiga prefecture called Marunaka Shoyu, and they take three years to make a batch of soy sauce. The first time I had it, it was an “Aha!” moment when I realized that this is what soy sauce is supposed to taste like.
- Yuzu Kosho – Yuzu kosho literally means “yuzu pepper,” and it’s a condiment made with green chilies, green yuzu zest, and salt ground together into a paste. I did a recipe for making it once, but the one I’ve included in my ingredient package has been aged for over a year, which gives it a ton of umami while preserving the fresh citrusy fragrance of the yuzu.
- Shiokonbu – Shiokonbu is kelp that has been cooked with seasonings and then dried and salted. It’s often used as a topping for rice, kind of like furikake, but I love using it as an ingredient to add a boost of umami to any dish ranging from pasta to salads to this spicy salmon. The one I’ve included in my ingredient box is loaded with flavor, but it’s not super salty, making it easy to use.
- Red Onion – I like adding a bit of minced red onions to my spicy salmon because it adds a nice crisp texture while adding a pop of color and sweetness.
- Kaiware Daikon Sprouts – This is purely optional, but I like the peppery flavor and the crisp texture they add to these rolls. You can substitute in any green veggies that you like, such as mizuna or cucumbers.
- Sushi Rice – Sushi rice is made by seasoning freshly cooked Japanese short-grain rice with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. You can check out my sushi rice recipe to learn how to make it.
- Nori – While it’s easy to assume that nori is just paper-thin sheets of seaweed, not all nori is created equally. Great nori is fragrant and loaded with umami which makes it a seasoning, not just a wrapper. The one I’ve included in my package is unlike anything I’ve ever found outside of Japan. It’s also been precut into half-sheets, which makes it perfect for this recipe.
How to Make Spicy Salmon Hand Rolls
For the spicy salmon sauce, just whisk together the soy sauce and yuzu kosho until there are no lumps.
Use a sharp knife to slice the salmon into 1/4-inch strips, and then cut the strips into small cubes. Mix the salmon with the red onions, shiokonbu, and soy sauce yuzu mixture to complete the spicy salmon.
Before you start rolling the temaki, prepare a clean work surface as well as a bowl of water. Line up your salmon, sushi rice, nori, and daikon sprouts, so they’re ready to go.
To roll the temaki, place a piece of nori in front of you with the rough surface facing up. Lightly wet your hands in the bowl of water and spread a golf-ball-size scoop of sushi rice onto the left half of the nori, leaving the top left corner empty. Use a picking and placing motion rather than a smearing or smashing motion to spread the rice. You also want to be careful not to get too much water on your hands, or the rice and nori will get soggy. One way to avoid this is to use plastic gloves (the rice won’t stick to the plastic as much as your hands).
Set a small bundle of sprouts in the center of the rice with the greens pointing towards the top left corner and add a scoop of spicy salmon on top.
Pick up the nori, and use your left hand to fold the bottom left corner of the nori up to the middle of the top edge of the nori. Then you can use your right hand to fold the top right corner over the filling and around the backside of nori.
Temaki sushi should be eaten as soon as it’s rolled; otherwise, the nori will lose its crispness, and it will end up chewy. It’s best for the person who’s going to eat it to roll it themselves.
Other Sushi Recipes
Temaki Sushi (手巻き寿司) means “hand-rolled sushi,” and it gets its name because the nori, rice, and fillings are rolled together using just your hands, and without the aid of a bamboo sushi mat. This makes it a free-form style of sushi that is popular to make at home because it does not require any special equipment.
There are several ways to make it, such as rolling it into a cylinder or folding it in half like a taco, but the most common method is to roll it at an acute angle into a cone. Watch the video below to see a demonstration of the process.
Temaki Sushi is a 5-syllable phrase that’s pronounced as follows. It’s worth noting that in Japanese, certain consonants are changed when preceded by a prefix. In the example of sushi, it’s pronounced “sushi” when used without a descriptive prefix; however, it becomes “zushi” when there is a prefix attached such as “temaki-zushi”, “nigiri-zushi”, and “chirashi-zushi”.
te like ten
ma like mall
ki like key
zu like zulu
shi like sheet
Except for a regional delicacy from northern Japan called ruibe, salmon is not traditionally eaten raw. This is most likely because wild salmon can contain harmful parasites. The Ainu people of northern Japan got around this by allowing the salmon to freeze for several days outside before defrosting and eating it, but eating salmon raw was historically unthinkable for most of Japan.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s, when Norwegian salmon farmers were faced with excess production capacity, that they tried to market salmon for sushi in Japan. Predictably, it didn’t go well at first, but by offering it as a cheap alternative to more traditional fish for sushi, like tuna or yellowtail, it slowly caught on. With a decade of persistence (and savvy marketing), salmon started to become accepted as an ingredient for sushi by the late ’90s. Today, it is one of the most popular fish for sushi, not just in Japan but worldwide. That being said, it’s still essential to choose salmon wisely, as it can still make you sick if it has not been processed and handled correctly.
In most countries, the term “sushi grade” is not regulated, meaning there are no rules that you have to adhere to label your fish “sushi” or “sashimi” grade. That being said, it’s not in a store’s best interest to get you sick, so if it says it’s “sushi grade,” it’s probably okay.
Salmon meant for eating raw needs to be raised in a farm that is parasite-free, or it needs to be frozen in an industrial freezer for long enough to destroy any parasites it may contain. The salmon also needs to be handled in a way that prevents the development of pathogens or toxins, such as through cross-contamination or storage at improper temperatures. At the end of the day, eating anything raw carries some risk, so before you take it, be sure you trust the place you buy your salmon.
I have a recipe for vegan poke you can check out for a process to turn carrots into something that will closely resemble spicy salmon in appearance and texture. Once you’ve made the poached carrots, you can follow the rest of this recipe to turn it into vegan spicy “salmon.”
- Whisk the soy sauce and yuzu kosho together in a bowl until it’s evenly mixed.
- Slice the salmon into 1/4-inch cubes using a sharp knife and add it to a bowl along with the minced onions, shiokonbu, and soy sauce mixture. Stir to combine.
- Prepare a clean work surface and have the sushi rice, nori, kaiware, and a small bowl of water ready.
- Lay a piece of nori in front of you with the rough surface facing up. Spread a golf-ball-sized scoop of rice onto the left half, leaving the top left corner of nori uncovered. Be sure to wet your fingers in the bowl of water as needed to keep the rice from sticking to them, but don’t overdo it, or the rice and nori will get soggy.
- Lay some kaiware sprouts in the center of the rice with the leaves pointing towards the top left corner of the nori. Add a spoonful of spicy salmon on top of the kaiware.
- Carefully pick the nori up and cradle the half with the rice, and filling in your left hand, folding the bottom right corner up to the center of the nori.
- Wrap the top right corner of the nori, over and around the filling, making the corner meet the backside of the top left corner.
- Eat the roll immediately, or the nori will lose its crispness and get chewy.