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Temaki Sushi Hand Roll Platter

Temaki is hand rolled sushi (*te* means hand; *maki* means rolled.) Since many types of sushi are rolled by hand, it can get a little confusing. But temaki is sushi with nori rolled in an ice-cream cone shape, pointed on one end. If you sit at a sushi bar, the sushi chef will roll each temaki and offer it from his hand to yours. You should accept it by hand and immediately enjoy it while the nori is crisp.

One of my favorite Japanese party menus highlights a colorful and varied temaki platter. I set out a small buffet-style offering with nori sheets, wasabi, sushi meshi (prepared sushi rice) and various ingredients for filling. The offerings vary, depending the courage of my guests, but there is a good balance between cooked and raw vegetables, seafood and meats.

Keep the cooked ingredients on one platter or in separate decorative dishes. The raw fish and seafood should be on a separate platter, arranged attractively in rows, and placed on top of crushed ice on a larger platter. Do not use too much ice or it will overflow the sides of the platter as it melts. Raw vegetables should have their own platter. Here is my typical offering. I do go overboard because I love variety.

Decorative platters with single, cooked ingredients:
Tempura shrimp
Salmon skin, sliced into strips and toasted crispy
Teriyaki chicken, sliced into long strips
Cooked clams, cooked in dashi, shoyu and sugar
Gyuko, sweet egg omelet cut into long strips
Kampyo, cooked gourd strips
Flaked eel, cooked in dashi, shoyu and sugar
Shiitake mushrooms, cooked in dashi, shoyu and sugar and sliced thin
Cooked crab salad

Vegetable platter:
Daikon radish sprouts
Pea sprouts
Carrots, cut into long strips and par-boiled in sugar, salt, mirin and water
Fresh cucumbers, peeled and cut into long thin strips
Takuan (pickled radish), sliced into thin strips
Fresh avocado sliced

Raw fish and seafood:
Maguro (tuna) sliced into long strips*
Sake (salmon) sliced into long strips
Masago, orange fish roe
Saba, marinated mackerel
Spicy tuna salad (minced maguro, chili sauce, sesame oil, green onions, salt)

*The fillings are sliced lengthwise to fit into a temaki roll rather than rectangle slices for nigiri sushi

In addition to wasabi, be sure to set out some shouga (pink pickled ginger slices), tsukemono (pickled vegetable side dish), and o-cha (tea!) I like to offer a variety of furikake (nori condiment sprinkles) and tenkasu (fried tempura batter crispies), too.

Each guest has his own set of hashi (chopsticks), hashi-oki (chopstick rest made of ceramic), sara (small plate), napkin and small condiment dish to blend wasabi and soy sauce for dipping.

Have fun!
Teach each guest how to roll temaki sushi. I included links that have photos and video but if you can follow written directions, here they are:

Hold a nori sheet (6h x 7h) in your palm with the longer side on the bottom. Spread a thin layer of sushi meshi evenly over the lower left side of the nori sheet, leaving a clear margin of about 1h along the top and right edge of the nori. Starting at about 1h from the left edge of rice, place desired fillings in a line from top to bottom.

Starting from the left edge, roll the nori at an angle to form a point at the bottom, like an ice-cream cone. Continue rolling to the edge. Enjoy! When eating the temaki, start at the top open end, not at the point.

Temaki parties are so enjoyable and delicious! Once the buffet is set up, there is nothing left to do except roll your own sushi and visit with your guests. Even dessert can be simple and self-serve. Offer a variety of wagashi (Japanese sweets) and mochi for your guests to choose, and your guests will remember your oishii temaki party for a long time.

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