Recipe: Hosomaki And Gunkan Sushi For Holiday Parties

This Season, Add A Japanese Touch To Your Festive Menu

By Fiona Uyema
December 24, 2017
Food & Drink

If you're throwing a big Christmas party this year — or bringing some food to other party hosts — here's an easy to cook Japan-inspired recipe that will keep guests entertained from start to end.

Sushi is one of my favorite foods to make at home over the Christmas holidays when we have family and friends visiting. It’s easy to prepare the sushi rice in advance and keep it in a cool room in the house with a damp cloth over it. I also prepare a selection of ingredients in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. When my guests arrive I start to roll the sushi as they love watching and learning, but you can also do it all together — it adds to the fun!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Stay warm and happy!

Hosomaki (Thin Sushi Rolls)


*Makes 8 rolls (serves 4)

  • Sushi rice (see instructions below)
  • 4 nori sheets, halved
  • Possible fillings: blanched asparagus, ripened avocado, coated in fresh lemon juice to avoid browning, ripened mango, cucumber, smoked trout, raw salmon/tuna, cooked chicken strips. All ingredients should be cut into thin long strips.
  • Soy sauce, to serve
  • Wasabi, to serve
  • Pickled ginger, to serve

You’ll need:  

  • A sushi mat
  • A small water bowl
  • A damp clean cloth
  • A sharp knife


  1. Place half a sheet of nori shiny-side down with the lines in the nori running vertically on a sushi mat.
  2. Dip your fingertips in the water bowl and shake off any excess water.
  3. Take a large spoonful of sushi rice (80g) and using your fingertips gently spread the rice over the nori sheet trying not to press on the rice too hard. Spread the rice to the edges of the nori, leaving a 2cm gap at the top of the seaweed.
  4. Place the ingredients in a straight line on the nori sheet. Hold the nearest end of the mat with your index fingers and thumbs. Use the rest of your fingers to hold the ingredients in place. Roll the mat forward to bring the nori and rice wrap around the fillings. Press down firmly but gently to create a roll shape.
  5. To finish the roll, pull the end of the mat with one hand and continue to push the roll forward with the other hand.
  6. Place the roll on a chopping board and using a sharp knife cut in half (try to cut only in one direction. Then, using a damp clean cloth, wipe the knife clean and continue to cut the two halves into four pieces and then cut the four pieces in half, which leaves you with eight pieces altogether.
  7. Make seven more rolls in the same way. Each serving should consist of sixteen pieces. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger.

Gunkan (Japanese Battleship Sushi)

This type of sushi is perfect for the festive season as you can fill the top with delicious caviar and it will add beautiful texture and color to your sushi board. It’s also one of the easiest types of sushi to make.


  • Use leftover sushi rice
  • Nori strips, 3cm tall
  • Wasabi (optional)
  • Soy sauce to serve
  • Pickled ginger to serve
  • Topping options: caviar, mango, peeled and chopped into tiny cubes, avocado, peeled and chopped into tiny cubes

You’ll need: 

  • A water bowl
  • A damp clean cloth


  1. Moisten your hands in the water bowl, shaking off any excess water. Take a small ball of sushi rice (25g) and place on the palm of your hand. Using a firm but gentle squeeze, mold into an oval-shaped rice ball.
  2. Wrap the nori around the rice with the shiny side of the nori facing out. Use a spare rice grain to seal the end of the nori. The nori should be higher than the rice to allow room for the topping.
  3. Using your finger, smear a thin line of wasabi on the top of the rice (this is optional).
  4. Place your preferred topping on top of the rice so that it sits slightly above the level of the nori.

How to make sushi rice for this recipe


  • 2 cups Japanese rice uncooked (using a measured rice cup this weighs 320g)
  • 100ml Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Combine the rice vinegar and sugar in a non-aluminum saucepan and dissolve over a medium heat for a few minutes (avoid boiling). Stir in the salt, take off the heat and allow to cool.
  2. To season the rice, transfer the hot cooked rice to a shallow pyrex dish with a flat base. Sprinkle the cooled sushi vinegar evenly over the rice and use a rice spatula to fold and turn the rice covering each grain in the sushi vinegar. Do this gently and take care not to break the rice grains. Use a fan or a piece of cardboard to fan the rice to cool it to room temperature as quickly as possible and absorb the excess sushi vinegar.
  3.  If you’re not using the sushi rice immediately then cover it with a damp cloth and store in a cool place (avoid putting it in the fridge as this will harden the rice and ideally sushi rice should be served at room temperature). Enjoy! 

What’s your favorite Japanese recipe for Christmas parties? Share with us in the comments!