Salmon Hand Rolls with Fresh Wasabi

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes Hand Rolls; Serves

    4 to 8

    as an Appetizer

Appears in

I’m a huge fan of sushi and hand rolls, especially salmon hand rolls that include the contrasting texture of crisp salmon skin. The recipe looks long because I’ve tried to include detailed instructions, but making the rolls is actually quite easy. One of my favorite things to do for casual entertaining is to have all of the ingredients ready to assemble, invite my guests to watch me as I make a roll, and then let them make their own hand rolls.


  • 1 cup/215 g Japanese short-grain rice
  • cups/360 ml. water
  • ¼ cup/60 ml. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
  • 2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
  • One 6-oz/170-g salmon fillet from tail end, skin and pin bones removed and skin reserved
  • tbsp kecap manis (see Cook’s Note)
  • 4 sheets toasted nori, each 7¼ by 8 in/18 by 20 cm
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Wasabi Paste
  • 16 fresh chive stems, 4 in/10 cm. long
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into thin strips about 4 in/10 cm. long
  • 16 fresh cilantro sprigs
  • Soy sauce for serving


  1. Place the rice in a medium bowl, cover with cold water, swish the rice around with your hand, and drain the cloudy water. Repeat two or three times until the water runs clear. This removes the residual starch. Drain in a sieve. Place the rice in a heavy 2-qt/2-L saucepan and add the water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice at a bare simmer for 15 minutes. As tempting as it might be, don’t remove the lid and peek at any point or all of the steam will escape. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. (Alternatively, use a rice cooker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)
  2. Meanwhile, combine the mirin and vinegar in a heatproof glass measuring cup and microwave on high power until warm, about 20 seconds. Alternatively, place the cup in a small pan of simmering water and heat until warm. Transfer the rice to a large, shallow bowl. Drizzle half of the mirin mixture over the rice and, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold in the liquid, using a light lifting and folding motion to avoid mashing the rice. As you fold, fan the rice with a fan or rolled-up section of newspaper to cool the rice. Add the remaining mirin mixture and continue folding and fanning, about 5 minutes total. The rice should glisten. Cover the rice with a clean, damp dish towel and set aside until ready to make the hand rolls. The prepared rice can be made several hours ahead and left standing at room temperature.
  3. Position an oven rack or broiler pan about 4 in/10 cm. from the heat source and preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the salmon into eight long strips and brush each strip with some of the kecap manis. Arrange the strips on the prepared baking sheet. Cut the salmon skin into eight long strips and brush each strip with some of the kecap manis. Add to the baking sheet. Broil the salmon and salmon skin until the skin begins to crackle and the salmon is bronzed, 3 minutes. Use a spatula or tongs to transfer the salmon to a plate. Turn the salmon skin over and broil until the skin is crackly and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a separate plate and set aside.
  4. Cut each piece of nori in half lengthwise to form eight 7¼-by-4-in/18-by-10-cm. rectangles. Have ready a small bowl with lukewarm water and a clean, dry linen tea towel. Working with one nori rectangle at a time, place it vertically, shiny-side down, on the towel. Dampen your fingertips lightly. Spread about cup/75 ml. rice on the lower half of the nori, patting it down lightly. Dampen your fingertips a bit more if the rice is sticking to them. Use your finger or the back of a teaspoon to smear a diagonal line of wasabi paste across the rice. Stacking them together, place 1 piece salmon, 1 piece salmon skin, 2 chive stems, 2 or 3 cucumber strips, and 2 cilantro sprigs across the rice from the upper left corner to the bottom right.
  5. Fold the lower left-hand corner of the nori over the filling toward the right side. Keep rolling the nori, now rolling over toward the left side to form a cone. Just before you get to the end, moisten your finger with a little water and moisten the top end of the nori to seal the edge of the cone. Place on a serving tray. Repeat to form eight hand rolls total. With a little practice, you’ll be able to assemble two at a time. Serve the rolls with little bowls of soy sauce for dipping. (The hand rolls can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Arrange on a serving platter and cover tightly with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.)