Kappa maki, also known as cucumber sushi roll, is a popular and refreshing type of sushi roll in Japan. With its simple yet delicious combination of fresh cucumber and seasoned sushi rice wrapped in a sheet of seaweed, kappa maki offers a light and healthy meal option. Since this classic sushi roll has just one filling it’s no matter if you’re a beginner at making sushi or not. It’s also suitable for vegans and vegetarians and makes the perfect party platter food, appetizer, light lunch, or bento box addition. This kappa maki recipe will teach you how to make these delicious little rolls that everyone will love.
Table of contents
What is Kappa Maki?
Kappa maki is a type of hosomaki, which is a thin sushi roll made with just one filling. It is also known as cucumber roll, cucumber maki, or kyuri maki. Other popular hosomaki filling ingredients include avocado, natto (called natto maki), pickled daikon radish (oshinko), sashimi, and Japanese egg omelette. The main ingredient of this kappa maki is fresh, crisp cucumber. The name “kappa” comes from a mythical creature or demon called the kappa in traditional Japanese folklore, which is known to love cucumbers.
This roll typically consists of sushi rice and thin slices of cucumber tightly wrapped in seaweed (nori). Sometimes, additional ingredients like sesame seeds or shiso leaves are added to enhance the flavor and texture.
Kappa maki offers a refreshing and light flavour. The coolness and crunchiness of the cucumber provide a delightful contrast to the soft, seasoned rice and seaweed wrapper. It’s also vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Ingredients for Kappa Maki
- Nori: Nori refers to the sheets of dried seaweed used to wrap kappa maki.
- Sushi Rice: Kappa maki is typically made with sushi rice / vinegared rice. This short-grain rice variety has a sticky texture when cooked and is seasoned with a vinegar mixture made with sugar and salt. It’s typically made with white rice but you could use brown rice instead.
- Cucumber: As the star ingredient of kappa maki, cucumber offers a refreshing crisp texture and simple flavour. Cucumbers are low in calories but high in water content, making them a hydrating and nutritious addition to this sushi roll.
Equipments Required to Make Kappa Maki
To create these little cucumber sushi rolls, you need two key tools – a makisu (bamboo sushi mat) and a hangiri (wooden sushi rice mixing bowl).
- Bamboo Mat (Makisu): A bamboo mat, commonly known as makisu in Japanese, is a necessary tool when making sushi. It consists of thin bamboo sticks woven together with cotton string. This mat helps shape and tightly roll the sushi.
- Hangiri (Wooden tub): A hangiri, also known as handai or sushi oke, is a shallow wooden bowl traditionally used for mixing sushi rice with vinegar seasoning. Typically made from cypress wood, hangiris are large bowls characterized by their broad diameter and shallow depth. This design allows efficient heat dissipation during rice cooling while effectively absorbing excess moisture from freshly cooked rice, resulting in ideal texture consistency. If you don’t have one of these then using a regular large bowl is fine.
Step by Step Instructions
- Prepare the ingredients: cook the sushi rice and cut the cucumbers.
- Lay down the nori sheet : Place one 1/2 sheet of nori on top of the bamboo mat or plastic wrap. Make sure the shiny side is facing down.
- Spread sushi rice over the nori sheet : Place approximately 1/2 cup of sushi rice (80g) on the nori sheet. Wet your hands with water to avoid sticking. Spread it evenly over two-thirds of the nori sheet. Leave about an inch uncovered at one end.
- Add cucumber strips : Layer cucumber strips across the middle section of the rice.
- Begin rolling : Start rolling from the edge closest to you using both hands. Use your fingers to hold onto the filling while your thumbs and index fingers pinch the end of the rolling mat to roll away from yourself, applying gentle pressure throughout.
- Complete rolling and seal it tightly: Once rolled completely, moisten that last inch of exposed nori with water. This will help seal it shut when rolled all the way up.
- Repeat : Repeat the process to create more kappa maki rolls as desired.
- Slice into bite-sized pieces : Using a sharp knife wiped with a damp kitchen cloth, slice the rolled kappa maki into bite-sized pieces.
- Serve : Arrange the sliced sushi rolls on a serving plate. Serve with wasabi, soy sauce, and sushi ginger on the side.
Tips for Making Kappa Maki
While this is an easy recipe, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to ensure you create perfect kappa maki every time.
- Choose High-Quality Ingredients: The key to delicious kappa maki lies in using fresh and high-quality ingredients. Select firm and crisp cucumbers (such as lebanese or continental cucumbers) without any bruises or blemishes. Opt for sushi-grade nori (seaweed) sheets that are smooth and intact.
- Proper Rice Preparation: Cook short-grain Japanese rice according to package instructions or use a rice cooker for consistent results. Once cooked, transfer the rice into a wooden bowl or large flat dish while still hot. Sprinkle the rice vinegar mixture over the rice gently while mixing with a wooden spatula until each grain is evenly coated.
- Make sure to leave about an inch at one end of the seaweed uncovered so that you can seal the sushi roll.
- Slicing Presentation: Using a sharp knife, moistened with water or vinegar, slice the kappa maki roll into bite-sized pieces. To achieve clean cuts, wipe the knife between each slice and use a gentle sawing motion rather than pressing down forcefully.
This sushi roll can be enjoyed on its own as a simple snack or combined with other rolls as part of a larger sushi platter. Kappa maki also pairs well with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger, adding an extra kick of flavor.
Complementary dishes can enhance the overall dining experience when eating kappa maki. Here are some ideas on what to serve with kappa maki:
Miso Soup: The savory and comforting flavors of this classic Japanese soup provide a nice balance to the lightness of the sushi rolls.
Gyoza: These Japanese dumplings filled with meat or vegetables are often pan-fried until crispy on one side while remaining soft on top. The combination of gyoza’s umami-rich filling with kappa maki creates a delicious contrast in taste and texture.
Tempura : Lightly battered and deep-fried vegetables such as sweet potato, zucchini, or eggplant and seafoods make great accompaniments to kappa maki. Seafood tempura like shrimp or fish will also add some protein to this dish.
Wakame Salad: Made from seaweed marinated in vinegar-based dressing, wakame salad is both refreshing and nutritious. It complements kappa maki by adding different textures and flavors that harmonize well together.
A : Making kappa maki at home is vegan-friendly since the main ingredients are simply rice, seaweed, and cucumber. However store-bought or restaurant kappa maki variations may contain non-vegan additives such as mayo.
A : Maki rolls are a delicious and versatile staple of Japanese cuisine. The classic and simple futomaki are thick sushi rolls filled with a variety of ingredients. Other types of hosomaki like this kappa maki include oshinko maki, kanpyo maki, tekka maki and natto maki. Popular maki rolls outside of Japan include california roll and dragon roll.
Kappa Maki: Mini Cucumber Sushi Rolls
- 1 hangiri
- 1 bamboo sushi rolling mat
- 1 sharp knife
- 3 cups Sushi Rice *1
- 1 Cucumber cut evensized sticks *2
- 3 Nori seaweed sheets *3 cut in half (makes ½ x 6 sheets)
- 1 small bowl of rice vinegar or water *4 works as glue to seal nori seaweed sheet together.
- Divide the sushi rice ½ cup (80g) each. *5
- Cut the nori seaweed sheets in half. It's standard size is usually (8.3 x7.5 inch or 21cmx19cm) Cut the longer side in half.
- Toast the nori seaweed sheet by passing the sheet over a medium flame to make it crispier. *6
- Place the nori sheet on a bamboo sushi rolling mat. Make sure the shiny side is facing down.
- Spread ½ cup of the sushi rice evenly over two-thirds of the nori sheet. Leave about an inch uncovered at one end.
- Arrange cucumber slices across the middle part of the rice bed horizontally but slightly overlapping each other.
- Wet the far edge of the nori sheet with sushi vinegar or water with your finger tip.
- Begin rolling by placing your fingers on the cucumbers, and lifting the edges of the bamboo mat closest to you along with the mat tightly towards the opposite end while applying gentle pressure to secure everything together.
- Firmly press the bamboo sushi rolling mat over the sushi roll with your hands.
- Repeat the above process for the rest of the ingredients.
- Cut each roll in sixths crosswise with a sharp knife. Clean the knife with a well moistened kitchen cloth between each cut.
- Serve them on a plate with condiments of your choice such as sushi ginger, wasabi and a small bowl of soy sauce.