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Making Temari Sushi: Easy, Fun & No Rolling Required

See a variety of temari sushi.

A collection of temari

A collection of temari

Kayo Lackey/OPB

Homemade sushi can be a delicious and popular food to serve at a holiday party or any time of year. However, many people are intimidated to attempt this dish on their own because they’re not sure if they can master the art of rolling sushi.

Never fear — Temari sushi is beautiful, tasty and doesn’t require rolling!

Temari, which is a colorful Japanese embroidered ball, literally means “hand ball” in English. Temari sushi is round like a “hand ball” and you can easily make it without any rolling.

Depending on the ingredients you use, temari sushi can be visually appealing and fun to design. It makes a perfect finger food to serve to your guests, or you can let everyone tap into their creativity by hosting a temari sushi party and teaching your guests how to make their own appetizers.

Check out the guidelines below to learn some basic techniques for making temari sushi with smoked salmon, then try it on your own like this or with your choice of ingredients.

Temari Sushi with Smoked Salmon


(Makes about 20 temari sushi. Recipe is for three types: smoked salmon with avocado; smoked salmon with cucumber & lemon; smoked salmon with cream cheese & capers) 

* You need plastic wrap to make temari sushi.


1. Follow the directions by food blogger Marc Matsumoto, who writes for the No Recipes and PBS Fresh Tastes blogs, and make sushi rice. Good sushi rice is the key to tasty sushi.


2. Cut the cucumber into slices approximately 2 mm. thick, then cut each slice in half vertically. Cut the avocado into slices approximately 5 mm. thick.


3. Cut the plastic wrap 7-8 inches long and place it on the counter. Place a slice of avocado on the plastic wrap, then cover it with a piece of smoked salmon and add 2 tablespoons of sushi rice on top.


4. Put the plastic wrap with ingredients on your palm.


5. Pull the edges of the plastic wrap to the center to wrap the whole thing.


6. Twist the plastic wrap at the bottom of the sushi ball.


7. Squeeze it to make the sushi nice and round. (Don’t squish it!)


8. Unwrap. Now you have one temari sushi with smoked salmon & avocado.


9. To make one with smoked salmon, cucumbers & lemon, repeat steps 3-8, this time using two slices of cucumbers and a slice of smoked salmon. Garnish with a small slice of lemon.


10. To make one with cream cheese & capers, repeat steps 3-8, this time using only smoked salmon. Garnish with a little bit of cream cheese and capers.


This recipe yields 6-7 pieces of each kind (avocado, cucumber, cream cheese & capers), but you may incorporate other ingredients and adjust the amount of ingredients accordingly. 


- Ingredients I often use include raw fish such as salmon and tuna, smoked salmon, cucumber, kaiware daikon radish, shiso leaves, alfalfa, scrambled eggs and more. Ikura, which is salmon roe, can make temari sushi look elegant.

- Be creative and design your own temari sushi using your choice of ingredients.

- A small bowl of water and wet towels come in handy while you are making temari sushi as some ingredients such as rice can stick to your hands.

- It’s often easier to eat temari sushi with your fingers. You don’t need chopsticks to eat them.


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