Kappa Maki roll, or more commonly known as cucumber roll, is one of the most famous sushi rolls in the world. Being a great introductory sushi dish for newbies or a staple for quick lunches, Kappa roll is great for any occasion. Not to mention it is incredibly easy to make it yourself at home!
With our traditional, fool-proof recipe, making this refreshing treat will be your next go-to!
What is Kappa Maki?
The Kappa cucumber roll is a thin roll of simple sushi (maki) with a single cucumber slice at the centre. This roll is most popular among children in Japan who aren’t used to the more exotic variations of sushi.
Though, it is also beloved by others for its light and refreshing taste either on its own or as a palate cleanser. These vegan and vegetarian-friendly rolls are simply delightful!
In comparison to modern types of Japanese maki like the spicy crab roll, California roll or Boston maki, this cucumber maki is a traditional one. You can find this served in any sushi shop in Japan.
Why is it called Kappa Maki?
This sushi is originally named after the Japanese 'kappa' monster, a river imp, who adores cucumbers. The word ‘Kappa’ in the sushi name is often mistakenly translated to cucumber for ‘cucumber roll’.
As the direct translation of cucumber in Japanese is ‘Kyuri’, this Kappa roll is unique in taste and name.
What does it taste like?
To briefly describe, the cucumber roll tastes like a spoonful of rice salad. The mixture of fresh cucumber, sticky rice, and the hint of nori is bound to create a mouthful of experiences.
Unlike most sushi rolls, the Kappa Maki does not contain any seafood which makes it great for beginners. The taste profile is simple, light and refreshing in contrast to other sushi types like the battleship maki that focuses on stronger-tasting ingredients.
Cucumber Roll Ingredients
Made from cucumber, vinegared rice, and nori, Kappa Maki is one variation of many vegetarian sushi.
- Commonly found in Asian supermarkets, the recipe calls for Japanese cucumber to give it its authentic taste. If you do not have any at hand, any type of cucumber is fine.
- You should also be aware of the type of rice you buy. Make sure it is sushi grade rice as any other type of rice i.e., basmati, or jasmine, would not be as malleable to make Kappa Maki roll.
- Picking the right Nori is also as important. The best nori to get usually comes in ready-to-go sheets and are dark green in colour.
How to make Kappa Maki
Making the Kappa roll is as simple as - if not simpler than - assembling a burrito. Requiring only a rice maker or a pot to cook the rice and essentially a sushi mat, the rest of the process is a no-brainer.
A series of assembling, rolling and cutting later, you’ve got yourself a restaurant-worthy meal. The prepared rolls should be consumed within 2 hours before it gets too soft and less enjoyable to eat.
Putting them in the refrigerator is fine but leaving them in there for too long can cause them to stale.
When it comes to making sushi at home, including this simple Kappa Maki recipe, there are a few extra steps to follow in preparation.
To make fluffy sushi rice, you should take into consideration the following points.
- Washing the rice thoroughly until the water turns clear.
- Leaving the rice to soak for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight before cooking. Ideally, a period between 30 minutes and 1 hour works best.
- Using a blunt wooden spoon when folding in the vinegar mixture to avoid damaging the Kappa Maki rice grains.
- Covering the rice with a damp cloth to avoid it from drying out when not being used immediately
- During the assembly of your sushi, place your nori sheet shiny side down. This is because the rice sticks better on the rougher side and also serves as a better presentation.
- However, note that nori gets tough and chewy when it absorbs too much moisture. To avoid your nori from getting soggy before consumption, leave your rice to cool to release any extra steam.
- Toasting the seaweed before assembling also helps and gives an added crispiness to the cucumber roll dish.
Kappa Maki | Veggie Sushi Roll
- 3 cups cooked Japanese rice
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 3 sheets nori seaweed
- 1 whole Japanese cucumber
- Whilst the cooked rice for your Kappa maki is still hot, gently fold it in with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until fully coated.
- Rinse your cucumber thoroughly and cut in half horizontally, and then half again until they resemble even quarters.
- Lay your bamboo mat along with a layer of saran wrap on a flat surface. Have a bowl of water on the side. Lay your nori on the mat with its shiny side facing the mat.
- Add 1 cup of rice to the centre of the nori sheet. With wet fingers, distribute the rice evenly across the sheet, leaving a small 2cm gap on the top.
- Place a cucumber quarter horizontally on the rice for your Kappa maki roll.
- Using the bamboo mat, roll the sushi into a tight cylinder. Lift both the mat and wrap it together to prevent it from rolling into the sushi. Press on the roll to make it compact.
- Wet the nori that is not touching the rice with water to act as glue to seal the roll. Cut into desired bitesize pieces. Serve your Kappa maki on a plate!
- When cutting into the roll, it is best to use a knife that is slightly wet. This helps prevent the rice from sticking onto the blade.
- If you do not have a sushi mat on hand, using a flexible placemat would help. Simply wrap the placemat with saran wrap before use and follow the same technique to make the Kappa maki roll.
- Depending on the nori, using water as glue to seal the nori may not seem to work. In this case, you can also use rice grains as glue. Just flatten a few pieces of rice sticky grains along the edge of the nori before sealing.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
SABA 鯖 SUSHI CHANNEL has a quick video recipe that shows the full process of making this traditional Japanese sushi. In their video, they chose to cut the cucumber into smaller strips rather than the traditional singular piece. Have a watch so that you have a clearer understanding of the steps involved.
This cucumber roll contains a total of 180 calories per serving. Each serving depends on how thick the slices of sushi are, varying from 4-6 slices per roll.
Though Kappa Maki is a special name for the cucumber roll, there are many variations towards making sushi rolls. Vegetables like carrots, avocado, or pickled radish are perfect substitutes.
There are also different types of maki that are vegetarian friendly. To name a few:
- Umekyu Maki (cucumber and pickled plum)
- Gobo Maki (burdock root)
- Kanpyo Maki (calabash gourd)
Did you try making your own Japanese roll at home? Share with us how it turned out by tagging us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks!