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Learn how to make kappa maki and delight your taste buds with this easy, healthy, and budget-friendly sushi roll recipe. Cucumber sushi rolls are super refreshing and have all the beloved sushi flavors without having to splurge on sushi-grade fish. Try our easy avocado sushi rolls as well for a vegan sushi feast!
You may have thought that “kappa” means “cucumber” and “maki” means “roll”. The latter is true, but “kappa” is nowhere near “cucumber”. In Japanese folklore, a “kappa” is a reptiloid deity that lives in the rivers and ponds of Japan.
Cucumber sushi rolls are called “kappa maki” because the Japanese believe that the kappa’s favorite food is cucumber. At festivals, they often make offerings of fresh cucumber to the kappa. But these mythical river creatures are not the only ones who enjoy kappamaki!
Why You’ll Love This Kappa Maki Sushi Recipe
This recipe is super easy to follow and you don’t need any special ingredients. We’ve got a step-by-step guide for how to roll the perfect cucumber sushi roll that’ll surely impress your guests.
Cucumber kappa maki is vegan and safe for pregnant women! Many people aren’t able to eat raw fish due to dietary restrictions because of pregnancy or other reasons. These delicious cucumber rolls are perfect for safely getting your sushi fix.
Our kappa maki cucumber roll is full of flavors – it’s fresh and bursting with umami. The taste is exquisite thanks to the addition of wasabi and toasted sesame seeds along with perfectly seasoned sushi rice and de-seeded cucumber.
What Is In A Cucumber Sushi Roll?
Before we get into the kappa sushi ingredients, let’s take a look at the list of equipment you need for making immaculate cucumber rolls.
- Vegetable peeler – to peel the cucumber
- Cutting board – as your work surface
- Sharp knife – for slicing the rolls into beautiful pieces
- Scissors – to cut the nori sheets in half
- Bamboo sushi mat – to shape and roll the kappa maki perfectly
- A small spoon – for deseeding the cucumber
- Water – for preventing stickiness
- Serving platter – for presentation
Ingredients for kappa maki:
- 1 English cucumber (about 12-inch)
- 2 nori sheets (cut in half)
- Wasabi (optional)
- A handful of toasted sesame seeds
- 1 cup sushi rice + 1 cup water (or 2 cups prepared sushi rice)
- 1 ½ Tbsp. sushi vinegar (1 Tbsp. rice vinegar + ½ Tbsp. White sugar + ¼ tsp. salt)
- To serve: Japanese pickled ginger (beni shoga) and shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce)
How To Make Cucumber Sushi Rolls (Kappa Maki)
Step 1: Make the sushi rice
Rinse the sushi rice in a colander repeatedly until the water runs clear.
Place the rice and water in a pot and bring to a boil.
Bring the rice to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.
Let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes until it’s tender & has absorbed all the water.
Set the rice aside to cool slightly.
Stir in the sushi vinegar.
Allow the sushi rice to cool completely before making the sushi roll.
Step 2: Prepare the cucumber for kappa maki
Peel the cucumber, cut off the ends and cut it in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. This improves the flavor and texture of the kappa maki.
Step 3: Slice the cucumber into thin strips
Cut the cucumber halves into thin strips about 1/8 inch wide. Set aside.
Step 4: Halve the nori sheets
Cut the nori sheets in half. Get your bamboo mat ready.
Step 5: Organize your work area with wasabi, sesame seeds, rice, and cool water
Assemble your work surface: place a bit of wasabi in a small bowl, the sesame seeds in another, and the rice as well, and have a bowl of cool water at hand.
Step 6: Spread rice on nori
Lightly moisten your hands with water and grab a handful of rice (about ½ cup). Place it in the center of one half of a nori sheet and spread it out towards the bottom, leaving a strip at the top intact.
You want the layer of rice to be no thicker than ¼ inch the nori sheet should be visible beneath.
Step 7: Apply optional wasabi and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on rice
Dip your finger into the wasabi and spread it horizontally across the center of the rice. This is optional. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds at this point.
Place the bamboo mat on your work surface and place the rice-covered nori on top of it about 1 inch (about the length of the tip of your pinky finger) from the bottom.
Place several cucumber slices horizontally and evenly across the center of the rice. Make an even row about an inch wide and let the cucumber stick out an inch or so on each side.
Step 8: Roll using bamboo mat, ensuring filling is enclosed and shaping as needed
Roll the bottom edge of the bamboo mat over the rice nori, and filling, shaping it into a rectangular mound as you go. Make sure all the filling is enclosed.
Pull the mat back and lay it over the roll again. Roll it more tightly this time, applying even pressure and shaping the roll more firmly.
Remove the roll from the mat and place the mat over it. Give the roll a final pressing to make it tight and smooth.
Repeat the whole process with the remaining 3 nori sheet halves.
Step 9: Cut and assemble
Lightly moisten your knife blade and slice the rolls in half, then slice each half into three equal pieces.
Use a sawing motion and moisten your knife again if the rice starts to stick to it. This technique ensures aesthetically pleasing maki pieces.
Step 10: Enjoy your Easy Cucumber Sushi Rolls!
Assemble your rolls on a serving platter with pickled ginger and light soy sauce to serve. Enjoy!
Notes & Variations
- Place your bamboo mat with the green part facing up and the stringy part away from you. The other side is bumpier, so it’s not as comfortable for rolling.
- As for the nori sheets, place the shiny side down so that your rolls look more appealing. You can check the glistening of the nori in the light.
- We cut the toasted nori sheet in half because kappa maki is traditionally a thin roll.
- Make sure you coat your hands with water before handling the rice. You can keep moistening as needed. Keep a towel to dry excess water off your hands.
- To place the rice on the nori sheet like a pro, first, make it into a ball with your moist hands. Put the rice on one side of the roll in the midline. Hold it down with one hand as you roll it across the center of the nori sheet with the other. Roll the rice gently down to the edges of the nori. Do not press the rice into the seaweed.
- Substitute Japanese cucumbers if you can find them. You don’t have to remove the seeds since they don’t have as many. Japanese cucumbers can usually be found in farmers’ markets.
- Leaving about an inch of cucumber slivers sticking out of each edge of the maki is optional. I like the groovy look of them, but you can also adjust the cucumber slices to the length of the roll and tuck the rice into the sides as you work with the bamboo mat.
- 1 English cucumber
- 2 nori sheets cut in half
- Wasabi optional
- A handful of toasted sesame seeds
- 2 cups prepared sushi rice
- To serve: Japanese pickled ginger beni shoga and shoyu
- Peel the cucumber, cut off the ends, and cut it in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Cut into thin strips about 1/8 inch wide. Set aside.
- Lightly moisten your hands with water and grab about ½ cup of rice. Place it on one of the nori sheet halves and spread it out, leaving an inch at the top intact.
- Dip your finger into the wasabi and spread it horizontally across the center of the rice. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds at this point.
- Place the rice-covered nori on top of the bamboo mat an inch from the bottom.
- Place several cucumber slices horizontally across the center of the rice. Make an even row about an inch wide and let the cucumber stick out on each side.
- Roll the bottom edge of the bamboo mat over the rice nori, and filling, shaping it into a rectangular mound as you go. Make sure all the filling is enclosed.
- Pull the mat back and lay it over the roll again. Roll it more tightly this time, applying even pressure and shaping the roll more firmly.
- Now, place the mat over the roll and give it a final pressing to perfect it.
- Repeat the whole process with the remaining 3 nori sheet halves.
- Moisten your knife blade and slice the rolls in half, then into six equal pieces.
- Serve your rolls on a platter with pickled ginger and soy sauce. Enjoy!