How to Make Temari Sushi

  • 01 of 06

    Temari Sushi

    Temari sushi
    Imagenavi / Getty Images

    Temarizushi, or temari ​sushi, are small and ball-shaped sushi. Temari sushi are usually cooked on happy occasions. Temari (literally means “hand ball” in English) is a traditional Japanese embroidered ball, which people used to play with in Japan.  These days, temari balls are treated more as decorative ornaments in the house rather than a children’s toy.

    These colorful ball-shape sushi with various toppings are often served during happy occasions like Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day - March 3) in Japan.

    These are easy to eat sushi and good for parties. Let's learn how to make colorful temari sushi. Temari sushi basically consists of 2 parts: the bottom part with sushi rice and top part with ingredients of your choice.

    If you love sushi, use your favorite sashimi (raw fish) as the topping (temari-zushi is definitely not good for bento if you’re using raw fish).  Sashimi fish like salmon, tuna, tai (sea bream) work great. Try getting a fresh sashimi block (a small block of fish) at a Japanese supermarket and cut it on your own. It’s amazingly cheaper than buying prepared sushi.

    If you are not a fan of raw fish, use boiled shrimp, smoked salmon, boiled crab, grilled meat, or anything that’s cooked. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can make ​temari sushi with your favorite vegetables.  They can be grilled/roasted first (so they are tender), or use fresh vegetables as well.

    Whether you use fish or not, you can always layer the ingredients with cucumber, avocado, kinshi tamago (shredded eggs) and herbs to make it more colorful.

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  • 02 of 06

    Prepare sushi rice and toppings.

    Sushi Rice
    Sushi Rice. Photo (c) Setsuko Yoshizuka

    Prepare sushi rice (how to make sushi rice) and make small rice balls. Set aside. Prepare various toppings.

    Topping Ideas:

    • maguro sashimi, thinly sliced
    • salmon sashimi, thinly sliced
    • boiled shrimp
    • ham, thinly sliced
    • avocado slices
    • smoked salmon slices

    Here are some useful tips to dress up your temari sushi.

    • Use contrasting colors like red (tuna) and green (avocado).
    • Use ingredients with texture, like octopus sashimi and kinshi tamago (shredded egg crepes).
    • Use translucent ingredients such as super thinly sliced cucumber and tai (sea bream). If you put ingredients underneath these materials, you can still see through.
    • Garnish temari sushi with ikura (salmon roe), flower-shape cutout carrot, nori (seaweed) strips, super thinly sliced lemon, chives, kaiware daikon (radish sprout), or microgreens.
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  • 03 of 06

    Place toppings.

    Making Temari Sushi
    Making Temari Sushi. Photo (c) Setsuko Yoshizuka
    Place toppings on a sheet of plastic wrap.
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  • 04 of 06

    Place sushi rice.

    Making Temari Sushi
    Making Temari Sushi. Photo (c) Setsuko Yoshizuka

    Place a sushi rice ball on the topping.

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  • 05 of 06

    Shape the sushi.

    Making Temari Sushi
    Making Temari Sushi. Photo (c) Setsuko Yoshizuka

    Shape the sushi into a ball, twisting the plastic wrap. (You don’t need to worry about your hands getting sticky with rice or having uneven shapes because your sushi ball will naturally become nice ball shape with the plastic wrap.)

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  • 06 of 06


    Temari Sushi
    Temari Sushi. Photo (c) Setsuko Yoshizuka

    Unwrap the plastic wrap. Serve temari sushi with wasabi and soy sauce.