Temari Sushi


Temari Sushi

This sushi style traces its roots to the samurai era; it was popular among maiko (geisha apprentices) in Kyoto in the eighteenth century. Maiko couldn’t eat big pieces of sushi; it made them look less elegant, and with these small balls with beautiful vegetables, there was not a strong fish smell. Temari sushi became a popular item to give to ladies. Its aesthetics represent the delightful and healthy Kyoto. When you visit Kyoto, make sure to stop by the kiosks at the train station. They sell lunch boxes with temari sushi, which has become a typical local art sushi.

Makes5 Temari (Ball) Sushi


  • 5 ounces (140 g) sushi rice
  • 2 slices tuna
  • 2 slices salmon
  • 2 slices yellowtail or other white fish
  • 2 slices avocado, plus more for garnish
  • 1 (2” [5-cm]) square piece kinshi tamago (egg sheet), julienned (see note)
  • Sliced jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) orange tobiko (flying fish eggs; optional)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) green tobiko (optional)


  1. Prepare five pieces of plastic wrap that are each about an 8-inch (20-cm) square. Moisten your hands with temizu and form the rice into five 1-ounce (28-g) balls. Place one square of the plastic wrap on a cutting board and lay the tuna pieces, side by side, in the center of the square. Place one rice ball on the center of the fish. Gather the corners of the plastic wrap and tighten them to form a ball.

  2. Using the remaining pieces of plastic wrap, repeat to make three more temari; one with the salmon, one with the yellowtail and one with the avocado. For the fifth ball, with the kinshi tomago, you can place a round of jalapeño on the plastic wrap first, if desired. If you want to further garnish your temari use tobiko. Before you unwrap the balls, make a small indentation on the top of each ball. Then, unwrap the balls and place the tobiko in the indentation. In my setup, I paired orange tobiko with the avocado temari and green tobiko with the yellowtail temari. If desired, you can add an extra slice of avocado to the salmon temari and a slice of jalapeño to the tuna temari.

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