What Is Maki?

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Sushi, maki, and sashimi are often used interchangeably but they all have distinct differences. While we may be familiar with sushi and have a general understanding of what it is and how it is served, we may be unaware of what the other two consists of.

This guide aims to examine what the differences between them are and explain exactly what maki is. So, if you’re looking to find out more – read below for more information.

General Information

When it comes to Japanese cuisine, it’s likely that we think of sushi. This is a classic Japanese dish that normally consists of raw fish prepared with vinegar, rice, and vegetables. 

Sashimi and maki on the other hand, whilst having some similarities also have distinct differences. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail. 


Maki, also known as makiushi or the California roll is a cylindrical shape of rice made with nori. Within the role, you can expect to find other ingredients like condiments, vegetables, and of course, fish. 

There are some different variants of maki:

  • Futomaki – this is a type of maki that is about 2 inches in diameter
  • Hosomaki – this is a type of maki with only one ingredient (and then rice)
  • Temaki – this is a type of maki prepared with less seaweed and appears in the shape of a cone when finished (made by hand)
  • Tekka-maki – these are effectively raw tuna rolls 
  • Shinko-maki – these are daikon rolls, normally pickled takuan 
  • Kappa-maki – these are cucumber rolls 
  • Shibazuke – These are eggplant rolls that are pickled with shiso 

When it comes to maki, it is almost what you’d think of if someone mentioned sushi to you. You have vegetables and fish with rice piled on top of one another, which are then rolled in seaweed. 

If someone serves you a sushi roll – there’s a high chance you’re consuming maki. Oftentimes, maki is used as a “party food” or appetizer at home and this makes sense. 

Not only is the size and shape ideal for this sort of serving, but Japanese culture often serves maki as part of a celebration. 

The most critical element of maki is rice. Real “sushi rice” must be used as it tends to be very sticky, which is the texture that you need for the rice to stay within the rolls. 


A sashimi dish is a type of Japanese dish that is usually served with a traditional Japanese vegetable; the daikon. This is a kind of Japanese radish. 

This is then seasoned and served with wasabi and soy sauce to give it the unique aroma and taste that most people will be familiar with. 

Even though the chances are if you attend a sushi bar, you will read sashimi on the menu – sashimi is not sushi at all. In order for sushi to be… sushi… it has to be served with rice. 

Sashimi on the other hand is a relatively simple presentation of fish with no rice, and possibly no added vegetables, but there are variations to this. 

Whilst the presentation may appear simple, the preparation to get the dish this way is anything but simple. Chefs trained for sashimi will carefully look at which fish they are selecting. 

After this, they will delicately prepare the fish and attempt to blossom the available flavors together with the added ingredients.

This will be the driving force behind how they will slice the fish and what garnishes they will select. As a result of such hard work, dedication, and commitment to the preparation of these dishes, it gets the name “sashimi-grade” if it is genuine sashimi.

This will tell you that you’re getting the highest possible quality of fish. Therefore you can rest easy knowing that you can eat the raw fish and not get sick. 


Sushi, otherwise known as nigirizushi, is the classic and probably most well-known Japanese dish. The preparation involves a slice of fish being placed onto a rice block shaped in a rectangle. 

Unlike maki, sushi isn’t rolled. Rather than being in a “wrap”, it has a thinly sliced piece of fish that is mounted onto a rice mound, normally made with vinegar.

In the middle of this, you may experience a small amount of wasabi. Nori or toasted seaweed may also be found in the center – but this depends on the chef and the consumer. “Nigiri” refers to the rice portion size, as it directly translates to “two fingers”. 

How To Make Maki At Home 

Making your own maki is possible but not simple. Most stores will offer the ingredients that you need to make it, including sushi vinegar and sushi rice. 

The real art to the process is being able to roll maki. Most people that try this at home will use a bamboo sushi mat, and this really makes things a lot more simple to do. 

It takes a lot of practice to master this skill, but once you have done it, you will soon be able to enjoy a lovely dish, perfect for many occasions. 

  • Place some seaweed or nori onto your bamboo sushi mat 
  • Spread your rice across the nori allowing yourself a slight gap at the front (nearest you) 
  • Layer the rice and flatten it out so that it gets thicker in the center 
  • Prepare thin strips for your filling and place them in the center of the rice, but do not overdo this 
  • Begin to roll the maki away from you and use the bamboo to shape the role 
  • Cut the finished product into 6 or 8 pieces 


Maki is a Japanese dish and while it has a lot of similarities to sushi and sashimi, it also has plenty of differences. We hope this guide has cleared some of this up!

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