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6 Important Differences Between Maki And Temaki Rolls

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When you say the word “fish”, most people are not so excited. I am not a big fan either. However, when you know how to prepare fish and make it delicious, the tables turn.  

One of the best ways to enjoy this nutritious food is in the form of sushi, but many people don’t know much about it. In fact, many believe that there is only one type of sushi. 

No there isn’t. There are, in fact, many different types of sushi, including nigiri, maki, uramaki, temaki, and chirashi. Two types that are almost the same are maki and temaki. 

But they do have a few important differences that will be discussed in this article.  

Maki Vs Temaki: Main Facts To Know

Before I head to the main differences between maki and temaki, let’s first get to know them and learn the basic facts about these two types of popular Japanese dishes known as sushi. 

What is Maki?

maki rolls

Probably the most popular type of sushi, not just in Japan but worldwide, is maki. In Japanese, it is called makizushi, which means rolled sushi in English. However, it is also known as maki sushi or norimaki. 

When it comes to this type of sushi, it is a bit complicated because it does not take on just one but many forms, from small to large. Aside from that, a wide variety of ingredients can be used. 

However, the main ingredients are sushi rice and other ingredients wrapped together in seaweed (nori). Based on their size, there are 3 main types of maki and those include: 

• Hosomaki: Small

• Nakamaki: Medium

• Futomaki: Large

When it comes to different types based on various ingredients, it would be really hard to list them all, but I will show you the most popular ones here. Some of the most popular types of maki include: 

• Tekka Maki: A classic maki roll that includes a strip of raw tuna in the center of the roll with sushi rice and nori. 

• California Roll: Popular American version of maki roll that contains a filling of imitation crab meat (or real crab meat), avocado, and cucumber. 

• Spicy Tuna Roll: It usually consists of a filling of raw tuna mixed with spicy mayo sauce, which adds a kick of heat to the roll. Additional ingredients like cucumber or avocado can also be included.

• Philadelphia Roll: A fusion maki roll that typically consists of a filling of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber. 

Snow Crab Roll: This one contains snow crab meat as the main ingredient, alongside sushi rice, nori, as well as additional ingredients like avocado slices, cucumber, and a drizzle of mayonnaise or spicy sauce. 

What is Temaki?

temaki rolls

Temaki is a term used for hand roll and it is a type of sushi that features a specific cone-shaped seaweed wrap filled with various ingredients. 

This type of sushi is very similar to maki, but as the name suggests, it is mostly made using your hands, making it an ideal option for home cooks. 

It is mostly made from raw fish, including salmon and tuna, but in Japan, cooked seafood like smoked salmon, shrimp tempura, or even tamago (sweet egg omelette) is also very popular. 

The most important thing to emphasize when it comes to temaki is that every cone-shaped or ice cream-shaped sushi roll is referred to as temaki. 

So, unlike maki, there aren’t different types of temaki. However, that doesn’t mean that different ingredients can not be used. But no matter what types of ingredients are used, they are all temaki. 

6 Differences Between Maki And Temaki

Now let’s get to the main part of the article. The most important facts about both types of sushi are discussed, but let’s see how we can differentiate maki from temaki based on these 6 important factors below. 

1. Shape

I already mentioned a few things about the shape of maki and temaki in the first part of this article, but let me elaborate some more. This is important because the shape is actually their main and most recognizable difference. 

Maki is cylindrical in shape and is made by rolling sushi rice, fillings, and seaweed (nori) tightly together using a bamboo mat called a makisu, after which the roll is sliced into bite-sized pieces. 

Temaki, on the other hand, is hand-rolled in a recognizable cone shape, or put more simply, into the typical ice cream shape. Namely, a sheet of nori is wrapped into a cone shape, and the sushi rice and fillings are placed inside. 

2. Size

Another noticeable difference between maki and temaki is their size. Maki is originally made as a long roll that is, before serving, cut into small bite-sized rolls. 

Although the size can vary from small to large, the average maki roll is around 6-8 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. The largest maki roll is typically smaller than temaki. 

When it comes to temaki, they are bigger, but it is not so important, i.e., there aren’t different types of temaki based on their size. 

However, I have to emphasize that they are much wider than maki rolls and, because of that, there is more space for other ingredients. 

3. Filling and Ingredients

When it comes to ingredients in both maki and temaki rolls, there are really no limits and both types of sushi can be filled with various ingredients. 

Also, both types of sushi consist of the main ingredients that include rice, seaweed, and some type of raw or cooked fish, like salmon or tuna. Aside from fish, you can also use some other types of seafood, like shrimp for example.

Of course, the flavor of salmon or the flavor of seaweed will be the same in both maki and temaki, but there are other ingredients that provide the overall flavor profile. 

Because temaki is larger in size, it mostly contains more ingredients, making a more complex flavor profile. Those ingredients can include cucumbers, avocado, and carrots, as well as various herbs and sauces for some extra flavor. 

I also have to say that, when it comes to maki, one type of seafood is predominantly used as the main ingredient. Temaki, on the other hand, can contain two or even three types at once, making the flavor profile even more complex. 

Finally, you should know that saltwater fish is preferable if using it raw in both maki and temaki. Also, it has to be sashimi-grade. Cooked fish is perfectly fine as well, but always avoid undercooked salmon because it can contain harmful bacteria. 

4. Serving

delicious temaki rolls

When you see someone serving maki rolls, you will most probably see bite-sized pieces that are arranged neatly on a plate. 

They are also often presented in groups of six or eight pieces for a group of people.

Maki rolls can be served as an appetizer, a main dish, or as a part of a bento box, just like bento cake, for example.  

Temaki is different, as they are usually served individually. They are presented as a cone-shaped hand roll, either on a plate or in a special holder designed to keep them upright. 

5. Eating Style

Maki rolls are much smaller than temaki and you can eat them with your hands. However, it is much more common to enjoy them with chopsticks, picking up each piece individually. 

The great thing about them and their relatively small size is the fact that you can easily dip them into some kind of delicious sauce. The most popular type of sauce is definitely soy sauce. 

However, in some cases, people also use wasabi, although it is much more common to use it when eating nigiri. But everybody’s tastes are different and there is nothing bad about it. 

Finally, it is customary to enjoy pickled ginger between bites of maki to cleanse the palate and refresh the taste buds. 

Temaki rolls, on the other hand, are mostly enjoyed with your hands. If you haven’t eaten temaki before, imagine holding an ice cream in your hand and eating it. You will be eating and enjoying your temaki roll just like that. 

When it comes to condiments like soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger, they are often served alongside temaki rolls. 

Diners can add these condiments directly onto the roll or take a small amount on the side and dip the roll for additional flavor.

6. Popularity

Finally, maki and temaki are two types of sushi that are both very popular in Japan. Maki is more popular in eastern parts of Japan, while temaki is more popular in the western parts. 

So it is kind of 50:50 when it comes to their motherland. However, people in other parts of the world are familiar with maki, and I believe you too belong to that group. 

Maybe you don’t know it by name, but maki is actually that mainstream type of sushi you can see everywhere, from restaurants to movies and TV shows. 

This is because it has a nicer appearance and because it is mostly served in restaurants and sushi bars.  

Temaki, on the other hand, is the type of sushi that doesn’t require so much skill to make, so almost everybody can make it at home if there are the right ingredients at hand. 

All you have to do is to place the nori on the plate, add some rice on top, and spread it out evenly, leaving one side empty. After that, you can add fillings and toppings and roll the temaki from the rice side. 

This process doesn’t make temaki rolls visually appealing either, and that is another factor that contributes to the fact that they are less popular.