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The inspiration for these sesame cucumber hand rolls came from the brief existence of a little restaurant on Ossington Avenue. Sitting at the long counter that wrapped around the centre kitchen, you could watch the chef prepare your hand rolls and deliver them to you one at a time.
Easy to overlook, one of the rolls was simply titled ‘cucumber hand roll,’ but the refreshing cucumber had been covered with a delicious sesame sauce. They were so good, I was hooked.
Unfortunately, this restaurant didn’t last long. Toronto has high rent and tough competition. So when I found myself craving those hand rolls I decided to make a version of it at home. They are so tasty!
How to make the rice
One Japanese rice cooker cup (180ml) of uncooked short grain Japanese rice will make enough for 8 hand rolls. I cooked it in my Zojirushi brand rice cooker on the sushi setting. (If you are looking for a great rice cooker, I strongly suggest getting a Zojirushi!) Sushi rice is a bit stickier than rice cooked on a normal setting.
To season the rice I used sushi vinegar (seasoned rice vinegar) and ground purple shiso leaf. If you can’t find sushi vinegar, check the note below for instructions on how to easily make your own.
Shiso (perilla in English) is a leaf that has flavours of spearmint, basil, anise, and cinnamon. The ground shiso that I used has a beautiful purple colour. Using it is totally optional – but if you want to order it online or ask for it at an Asian market, look for Mishima Yukari Shiso Rice Seasoning.
How to make the sesame cucumber hand rolls
Take a sheet of nori (seaweed) and cut it in half. The smooth side will be on the outside of the hand roll, so keep the more textured side upwards.
Spread a thin layer of rice on the left third of the nori.
Place thinly cut cucumber slices diagonally across the rice.
Top the cucumber with a generous dose of sesame sauce. I used the same sauce that is featured in my post Japanese sesame sauce. I wasn’t kidding about how versatile it is! You will only need a half portion for this recipe for 8 hand rolls, so I have it listed below in the reduced measurements.
Fold up the bottom left corner of the nori like pictured below, then tightly (without tearing the delicate nori) wrap the right side of the nori completely around the roll. Place a grain of rice under the loose edge of nori and press down to use it as an adhesive. The roll should stick together now. (Watch the video to see the whole technique.)
You can serve the hand rolls on their own, or with the standard sushi companions – soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.Print
Refreshing cucumber hand rolls filled with delicious sesame sauce, giving them a slightly sweet and nutty flavour. Wonderful as an appetizer or snack!
4 sheets nori (dried seaweed)
180 ml short grain Japanese rice (1 Japanese rice cooker cup, cooked)
2 tbsp sushi vinegar (seasoned rice vinegar) *
1/4 tsp ground purple shiso (optional) **
1 cucumber (cut into thin strips about 2.5” long)
Japanese Sesame Sauce
2 tbsp white sesame seeds (not roasted)
1 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
2 1/4 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp white miso paste
3/4 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sake (see note for substitutions***)
Season the rice with sushi vinegar and shiso and mix well.
Cut a sheet of nori in half. The smooth side will be on the outside of the hand roll, so keep the more textured side upwards.
Spread a thin layer of rice over the left third of the nori.
Place some cucumber strips diagonally across the rice.
Top the cucumber with sesame sauce.
Fold up the bottom left corner of the nori, then tightly (gently so as to not tear it) wrap the right side of the nori completely around the roll.
Place a grain of rice under the loose edge of nori and press down to use it as an adhesive to stick the roll together.
Serve rolls on their own, or with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.
* Seasoned Rice Vinegar: You can make your own by combining rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a ratio of (vinegar 4 : sugar 3 : salt 1). You can adjust this to your preference. Simmer the three ingredients in a saucepan over low heat until the solids dissolve – do not bring to a boil.
** Shiso (perilla in English) is a leaf that has flavours of spearmint, basil, anise, and cinnamon. If you want to order it online or ask for it at an Asian market, look for Mishima Yukari Shiso Rice Seasoning.
*** If you don’t have sake it can be substituted with an equal amount of dry sherry. If you prefer to exclude alcohol, you can use a mixture of one part rice wine vinegar to three parts water.
Keywords: Sushi, Hand Rolls, Vegetarian