Apr 17, 2024

At Home Hand Roll Bar (Temaki Bar)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Assemble hand rolls at home with my tips for an at home temaki bar. 
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Set up your own at home hand roll bar and make temaki with an assortment of raw fish, sushi rice and additional fillings. Sushi has become more popular than ever. Fresh hand rolls, or temaki, are made with warm rice and chilled raw fish rolled into fresh crispy nori (seaweed sheets). The ingredients are rolled into either a cylindrical cone shape or into an even roll. The roll is eaten by hand rather than using chopsticks. 

I love hand roll bars like Kazu Nori and Nami Nori, but they can be an expensive date night out. I love turning to my local Japanese market to pick up some of my favorite cuts of raw fish for the experience at home! This type DIY menu is great for a dinner party for several friends or for an intimate date night at home. Since only the rice is cooked, it’s perfect for hot summer nights when you don’t want to turn on the stove! Pair your hand rolls with your favorite Japanese beer like Sapporo or Asahi, or sake. You can get all the ingredients to make your own hand roll bar on my Amazon storefront here.

At Home Hand Roll Bar (Temaki Bar) 

What You Need

The basics 

  • RiceShort-grain Japanese sushi rice is used to make this recipe. The plump grains stick together well. I recommend using a spoon to spread it on the nori for the base of the hand rolls. Make sure you rinse your rice until the water runs clear before cooking it. I like to cook the rice in a rice cooker, as this way it also keeps the rice warm while you assemble your hand rolls. I season the rice with mirin (a type of rice wine used for cooking) for extra flavor though this step can be skipped.
  • NoriTo create hand rolls you will cut larger sheets of nori in half. Look for sheets of nori that are even in thickness throughout and darker in color. The sheets of nori should be crisp for the best texture. I like making and serving one hand roll at a time so the nori is as crisp as possible. 
  • Soy paperWhile you can easily swap the soy paper for sheets of nori (seaweed), I love the subtle flavor of soy paper. Cut the sheets in half for preparing hand rolls. 
seasoned sushi rice in glass bowl.

The fish 

You can prepare the fish sliced in strips though I prefer it minced so it can be evenly spread over the nori and eaten in bites. These are a few of my favorite easily accessible seafood options to serve: 

  • SalmonSalmon was not traditionally eaten raw in Japan and prepared as sushi until more recently. The increase in popularity can be traced to a campaign by Norway’s fishing industry to increase exports to Japan back in 1986. It’s one of my personal favorite fish to eat as a hand roll. 
  • TunaAlso called maguro, I like to offer both minced ahi tuna on its own as well as mixed in a bowl with a bit of sriracha and Kewpie mayonnaise for a spicy tuna option. If you can find toro (fatty tuna), it’s a great option!
  • YellowtailYellowtail, also known as hamachi, is a firm fish with a high fat content, which makes for great sashimi. The majority of the time yellowtail actually refers to Japanese Amberjack (not tuna!).
  • CrabmeatCrabmeat combined with a bit of Kewpie mayonnaise is a great “cooked” seafood option for those not eating raw fish or if you are not in an area where you can easily source a combination of high-quality raw fish. Another great option is this spicy shrimp salad. 
ingredients for DIY hand roll bar at home.

The standard additions 

  • AvocadoWhen shopping for avocados, look for ones that are firm but “give” slightly when gently squeezed in your hand. You can also remove the top stem, though I prefer to call it a nub, at the top of the avocado – if you remove it and it is green, it’s most likely ready to eat. If it’s brown then it’s probably overripe. I cut the avocado into thin slices so it can easily be added to the hand rolls. 
  • Green onion I thinly slice both the white, more pungent bottom parts of the stalk as well as the more mild green tops for adding to the hand rolls. Fun fact: green onion is the same thing as scallions. It just depends on what the area you’re in calls it.
  • CucumberPeel your cucumber and cut out the seeds before thinly slicing it into strips and then julienne the strips (so you have skinny matchstick looking pieces) that easily lay into the hand rolls.  
  • Sesame seedsToasted sesame seeds are used to add a bit of nutty flavor and to add a bit of texture. If you don’t have toasted sesame seeds, simply add them to a nonstick sauté pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds turn a uniform golden brown color. Immediately remove them to a bowl to cool.

Make things interesting 

Go above and beyond if you want to mix things up then a few of these additions are fun to offer: 

  • Yuzu kosho 
  • Crispy shallots 
  • Daikon sprouts 
  • Shiso leaf 
  • Tobiko (flying fish roe) 
  • Sea urchin (uni) 
  • Scallop (hotate) 

The sauces

  • Soy sauce After assembling the fish over the rice in a hand roll, I recommend brushing the fish with a soy sauce or ponzu (depending on the fish) before rolling it up. I also like to serve more soy sauce in small dishes for dipping. I use reduced sodium soy sauce so that I can control the amount of salt in the recipe, adding more if needed.
  • Ponzu saucePonzu is a flavorful citrus sauce made from soy sauce, citrus juice, mirin, bonito flakes, kombu and rice vinegar. It comes in a few varieties with citrus juices like lemon juice, but I prefer it made with lime juice.
salmon temaki.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

Hand Roll Combinations 

Of course you can opt for just the fish paired with the rice and nori, but I like to make a few simple additions for delicious combinations. These are just a few ideas to get you started, but mix and match what you like best: 

  • Salmon + sesame seeds
  • Salmon + avocado 
  • Tuna + avocado 
  • Crab + avocado + cucumber (California roll) dip in melted butter + ponzu
  • Yellowtail + scallion/ green onion + ponzu 
Notes on Raw Fish 

While it can seem intimidating since you are working with raw fish as long as you buy fresh high-quality ingredients there is no reason for it to be daunting. The fish should be flash frozen (to kill any parasites before use) to make it safe for eating. 

Ask your fishmonger for fish suitable for raw consumption, they should be able to provide much more information about whether their fish can be eaten raw. Also, if they don’t know, then that is a red flag within itself! 

It is important to make note of how long the store or fishmonger has had the fish. I buy the sushi-grade fish from my local seafood market the day of, or day before, making dinner as fresh as possible. All fish that is going to be eaten raw should be previously frozen. This kills any harmful parasites.

yellowtail and green onion hand roll.
Where to Source Raw Fish 
  • At your local fish market. Many fish markets offer selections of fresh fish like tuna or salmon that can be used for spicy tuna crispy rice. Then, ask your fishmonger for more advice! They are a great resource.
  • At a Japanese market. Many markets sell pre-packaged cuts of sushi-grade tuna in the refrigerated section. This makes it easy for use in this recipe!
  • Buy online. So, if you don’t have a place to buy fresh high-quality fish locally, I recommend ordering online. There are plenty of places where you can get fish shipped quickly – I particularly like Honolulu Fish Co. or Goldbelly.
temaki hand rolls.

Other Recipes To Try

If you enjoy this “at home hand roll bar”, I recommend checking out some of these Japanese-inspired recipes: 

At Home Hand Roll Bar (Temaki Bar)

Print Pin
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Serves 4


  • 2 cups short-grain white sushi rice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 sheets nori, halved
  • ½ pound salmon, finely chopped
  • ½ pound ahi tuna, minced
  • ½ pound yellowtail, finely chopped
  • ½ pound crabmeat
  • 2 tablespoons Kewpie Mayonnaise
  • 2 medium hass avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large hothouse cucumber, seeds removed and cut into julienne strips
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Soy sauce, as needed
  • Ponzu, as needed


  • Place the short grain rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water that runs out of the bottom is clear. This gets some of the starch out of the rice. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice with 2½ cups (591g) of water, cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. In a small bowl stir together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Add to the rice and fluff once more. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Place the sheets of nori on a clean, dry work surface. Working one at a time, spread about 3 tablespoons (47g) of the rice onto the right edge of the sheet of nori. Wet your fingers and press the rice to spread it into an even square over the right half of the sheet.
  • Spread a spoonful of the fish of choice over the rice and top with any desired toppings (a few pieces of avocado, cucumber, green onion or sesame seeds – all optional).

For rolling into a cone shape:

  • If rolling into a cone shape, arrange the toppings on the diagonal facing the right top corner. Roll the bottom right corner and fold it to the center, then continue rolling to the left until it forms a cone shape. Serve immediately with soy sauce or ponzu for dipping.

For rolling into a cylinder:

  • If rolling into a cylinder, arrange the toppings in the middle, facing directly up and down. Roll up as you would a cinnamon roll. Serve immediately with soy sauce or ponzu for dipping.



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