Salmon Temari Sushi [recipe]

Temari means “thread ball” in Japanese. These cute ball-shaped sushi are made for joyous occasions, aren’t they adorable? I made an assortment of these back in May for Mother’s Day. They may look super fancy, but the only “special tool” required is plastic wrap. This is also great if you don’t really know how to shape sushi rolls or nigiris. They are so fun to make and guaranteed to impress!


Besides salmon sashimi and other raw fish, you can use lots of different toppings to top these sushi, such as: avocado, shrimp, thinly sliced vegetables (cucumber, radish, carrots…etc. using a mandolin), eggs (whisk and cook it like a crepe in a skillet, then roll up the egg “crepe” and thinly slice it to shreds), radish, ikura and massago (fish roes), wasabi, edamame, nori (toasted seaweed)…etc.

Here’s the platter I made, not bad right? No sushi-making training required, just need a tiny bit of artistic abilities and creativity to decorate.


Salmon Temari Sushi


  • 2 cups* (360ml) short-grain Japanese rice (yield about 4 cups cooked rice)
  • 5-6 Tbsp sushi rice vinegar seasoning, or make your own by combining
    • 1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp Sugar
    • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 lb to 1/2 lb sashimi-grade salmon, sliced
  • bowl of water (to dip your fingers so the rice don’t stick to your hands)
  • Optional: Wasabi
  • Garnish: lemon, radish, cucumber

*If you own a smart Japanese rice cooker, the cup size is 180 ml which is roughly 3/4 cup (6 oz).


  1. Cook the rice according to your rice cooker’s instructions. Use the “sushi” setting if the rice cooker has one, this yields a firmer rice. If needed, make the sushi rice vinegar seasoning while the rice cooks by whisking the ingredients together and cook over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Once the rice is cooked, immediately transfer to a large mixing bowl or container and pour the seasoning over the hot rice. Use a wooden spoon or a spatula (don’t use metal) in a slicing motion, slice the rice straight down towards you, working your way from left to right. This way the spatula will separate the rice grain and allow the vinegar to be mixed in instead of smushing and damaging the rice. Flip the rice over gently with the spatula and repeat the slicing motion until the vinegar is thoroughly combined. Use a fan to help the rice cool down, do not refrigerate the rice to help expedite the cooling. Once the rice has cooled down to room temperature, cover with a damp towel until ready to use.
  3. Prep the toppings. Slice the salmon, thinly slice lemon, cucumbers, and radishes. To make the sakura radish slices – use a sakura-shaped cookie cutter to cut out shapes and soak them in a cup of cold water with a few drops of red food coloring. Use beet juice as an alternative to food coloring.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Something like 12″x12″ is good enough.
  5. Arrange the salmon (or whatever toppings you are using) in the center, dab it with a bit of wasabi if preferred, then top with 2 tbsp of rice. Remember to put down whatever you want on the very top of the sushi first. If you are using your hands to work with rice, dab your fingers in a bowl of water prior to handling rice to avoid some sticky situation.
  6. Bring the edges of the plastic wrap to the center, start twisting to form the sushi into a ball, make sure there are no big air bubbles in there. Squeeze and shape until the sushi is round and compact.
  7. Unwrap and garnish with eggs, nori, sesame, or ikura (salmon roe)


This beautifully hand-crafted tiered gozen box was a gift from my mom from her recent trip to Japan.


I also picked up a mushroom takikomi gohan mix packet from the nearby Japanese market. Takikomi Gohan is a rice dish where vegetables and meats are cooked together with rice along with dashi and soy. These packets are a great way to flavor the rice and all I have to do is add them to the rice cooker together with the rice to cook. I did not add any extra rice vinegar seasoning to the temari sushi I made using takikomi gohan, and I paired the rice with toppings like egg and shrimp.



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