Hand roll or cut roll are phrases thrown around when describing the incredibly popular Japanese cuisine we know as sushi. Newcomers who don’t know much about sushi can easily get lost in the semantics used by Sushi restaurants and Sushi lovers.
First, you should know that both hand roll and cut roll are two types of sushi with a lot of similarities and differences. Hand roll sushi is also known as temakizushi, while the cut roll version is called makizushi. This guide will help shed more light on these similarities as well as differences.
Before we continue, however, it will be appropriate to highlight some key elements in the world of sushi. This will serve as an introduction to the Japanese dish while making further explanations easier.
A Brief History
Let’s start with sushi. For most, when sushi is mentioned, a serving of cut raw fish comes to mind. However, sushi identifies primarily with sour rice. In ancient times, the rice is left to ferment to give a sour taste. But more recently, vinegar is simply added.
In time past, raw fish is surrounded by cooked rice and kept to ferment for months. The fermented rice keeps the fish from spoiling. When it is time to eat the meal, the fermented rice is discarded, and which by now has a strong sour and umami flavor is eaten as a delicacy.
However, the modern preparation of sushi started in the medieval period and reached new heights in the 20th century. The current version was popularized by Hanaya Yohei. With vinegar added, the rice and fish no longer need to be fermented to bring out the sourness, and the rice could be eaten together with the fish.
For the sushi to be complete, though, it is accompanied by seafood (usually raw) and vegetables, which are stuffed in the rice center. Sometimes a bit of salt of sugar is added to the mix, and the sushi is ready.
A maki, on the other hand, is a rolled sushi. A sushi roll is created when the rice, vegetables, fish, and other seafood are wrapped into a roll.
An edible seaweed that has been previously roasted, known as “Nori,” is used as the wrapper. The ingredients are prepared on a bamboo mat, which is then used to roll the sushi to the desired shape once it has been filled. Other food materials like an omelet, soy paper, cucumber, etc., can be used as a wrap for sushi.
Rolled sushi, both maki, and temaki, end in the mouth with a sour and savory taste. There is a range of textures that feels like heaven in the mouth. Starting from the crisp nori to sticky rice and moist interior made of seafood.
Difference Between Hand Roll and Cut Roll Sushi
Now that we have covered the basics, we can address the differences between a hand roll and a cut roll sushi.
Shape and Size
The most obvious difference between cut-roll sushi and a hand-roll one is their physical appearance. A cut roll is rolled into a large cylindrical tube with the aid of a bamboo mat. This roll is then cut into small pieces, usually six pieces, but sometimes it is cut into eight pieces. A specialized sushi knife is used, especially when it is prepared in a restaurant.
Each cut maki roll is a small piece that can be fitted into the mouth at once. This is the origin of the name “cut roll.”
Hand roll sushi, on the other hand, is rolled into a larger cone structure. Think of a conical ice-cream, with the biscuit exterior made of nori and the interior filled with sour rice, vegetables, fish, and seafood. There is no further cutting, and the entire cone is bitten into till it is finished.
Presentation and Serving
A subtler but more essential difference between the two forms of sushi is the way they are presented and served.
A cut roll is often presented in a tray in dozens. It is typically presented to a group of people to be eaten in the form of a feast. Hence, you will see cut rolls served at parties or to a party of visitors in a traditional Japanese setting.
Cut roll is customarily eaten with chopsticks, where you can fit a piece into your mouth at once.
In contrast, hand roll is to be eaten in a more relaxed setting, where it is customarily eaten as a whole while held in hand.
Traditionally, hand roll is expected to be eaten as soon as it is made when the nori’s aroma is perceivable, and the body is crunchy. It is made to be eaten individually and is often faster to make.
The Japanese cuisine has enjoyed widespread popularity these days, especially in the western parts of the world – and this is by no accident; sushi generally makes awesome meals. If you are looking for a new taste or have been thinking of joining the sushi train, what are you waiting for? You will be delighted you made the choice.
While ingredients in a sushi roll may vary among chefs, countries’ restaurants, two things elements are mostly constant, vinegar rice and roasted nori seaweed. And this is the same for either of the two rolls described. Both of which make for an awesome meal.