Fill your sushi roll with anything you like

Spicy beef with kimchi filled rolls, right row, and tuna-mayo filled rolls
PHOTO: Mari Nameshida

In the United States, "sushi burrito" shops are often seen at food courts.

They sell a kind of evolved version of futomaki thick sushi rolls.

You can wrap anything in a sushi roll. For traditional sushi, you may expect a fish filling, but I only eat sushi with raw fish on special occasions.

Sushi rolls with vegetables or cooked meat are more typical choices for me.

When preparing a bento boxed meal, I often use whatever I have in my fridge and check what goes well in sushi rolls.

I'd like to share two of my favourite variations: "Tuna-mayo salad sushi roll" and "Spicy beef sushi roll with kimchi."

The key to making tuna-mayo salad filling is to prepare the tuna with the seasonings first, then mix it with mayonnaise so it's well seasoned. If you like spicy food, you can add sriracha hot sauce as well.

To make "spicy beef with kimchi" filling, it is important to drain the kimchi well and saute it first to remove excess liquid. Don't skip sauteing the kimchi, otherwise the sushi will become soggy.

I use hakusai Chinese cabbage kimchi. Over-fermented kimchi can be sour but it will be fine after you saute it a bit.

The rolls are usually made with seasoned sushi rice, but I just use plain cooked rice for this recipe because the filling is already so well seasoned.

Please choose short-grain rice if you have the option, because Japanese rice is sweeter and stickier than many other types of rice, helping the rolls keep their shape.

Even if you're a traditional sushi lover, you will still be satisfied with these rolls.

I often make simple thinner versions like egg and tuna-mayo or just beef with cucumber as snacks for my 2-year-old son.

Mari's recipe for futomaki

Ingredients (yields 2 rolls of each type, to serve 4)

Spicy beef with kimchi filling:

200 grams thinly sliced beef

1 tbsp sake

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sugar

200 grams kimchi

1 cucumber, julienned

1 head of lettuce

1 tsp gochujang chili paste

2 eggs

2 cups of cooked rice

(about 350 grams)

2 tsps sesame oil

1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

Pinch of salt

Tuna-mayo filling:

1 can tuna (about 150 grams, no oil, no salt added)

1½ tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp sugar (in total)

3-4 tbsp mayonnaise

1 cucumber, sliced into sticks

1 bell pepper, sliced into 1-2 cm thick sticks

1 head of lettuce

2 cups of cooked rice (about 350 grams)

2 tbsp rice vinegar

⅓ tsp salt


1. For spicy beef:

Place 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a heated pan and brown sliced beef. Add sake, soy sauce and sugar and cook until all liquid is gone.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Drain the kimchi and squeeze the excess liquid. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Sautee the kimchi until all the liquid is gone, about 2-3 minutes.

Julienne the cucumber. Make an omelette and cut it into long slices. Mix cooked rice with sesame oil and sesame seeds and salt well.

For tuna-mayo filling:

Drain canned tuna well.

Place soy sauce, tuna and 1½ tablespoons sugar in a pan, then cook over medium heat until the liquid is gone, about 2-3 minutes.

Reduce the heat and mix well with mayonnaise. Set aside.

Fry bell pepper with vegetable oil for a few minutes then reduce heat. Mix the hot cooked rice with vinegar, salt and 1½ tablespoons sugar.

2. Place the bamboo mat flat-side up. (Each strip of bamboo in a mat has a flat side and a curved side.)

Position a sheet of nori with the shiny side down and the longer side facing to you.

Thinly spread the rice over nori, leaving a 3- to 4-centimeter strip on the side opposite you to seal the nori.

Place a layer of toppings on the centre of the rice. (For spicy beef, create a thin line of ½ teaspoon of gochujiang beside the beef, then place the other ingredients beside it.)

3. Using both hands, begin rolling by holding the bamboo mat and nori with your thumbs and index fingers and holding the topping in place with the other fingers.

Continue to roll gently without too much pressure, pressing the mat delicately to make a fluffy, round log.

The seam is on the underside.

4. Cut each log into eight equal pieces.

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