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Maki vs Temaki

What is the Difference Between Maki and Temaki?

Unless you are a die-hard fan of sushi, most people cannot tell the difference between types of sushi just by name. 

They would have to see the servings first to tag them correctly. Maki and Temaki can be very confusing, especially to amateur sushi consumers, due to their almost matching names. 

Though similar in their principle contents, Maki and Temaki differ in shape, size, and serving methods. However, they are both great options for sushi lovers and also safe introductory snacks for people wanting to try out sushi for the first time.

What Do Maki and Temaki Mean?

Maki and Temaki are both Japanese words with individual meanings. 

Maki directly translates to the English word roll. The full name of Maki is ‘Makizushi,’ which simply refers to sushi that is served rolled. 

Under the umbrella term, there are a few types of rolled sushi, including Futomaki, Uramaki, and Hosomaki.

Temaki, on the other hand, means hand-rolled (pun not intended). ‘Te’ means hand, while Maki means rolled.

Technically then, Temaki can be categorized as a type of Makizushi since it is also rolled sushi. Temaki’s distinguishing factor, though, is that it is hand-rolled. What then is used to roll Maki?

To roll Maki sushi, one uses a makisu bamboo rolling mat, which you can purchase in a set of sushi-making equipment.

The mat helps bring out the cylindrical shape and ensures the rolls are tight enough to hold the ingredients even after being cut.

What Does Temaki Look Like?

Temaki roll
Temaki roll

Simply put, Temaki looks like a flat-topped ice cream cone. The nori (seaweed) that wraps the Temaki contents is rolled averagely loosely to make up a sushi cone.

Each person then holds a cone by hand and enjoys it as they would an ice cream cone.

What Does Maki Look Like?

Maki roll
Maki Rolls

Maki looks like an exotic variation of a Swiss roll. Maki sushi servings come in six to eight cut pieces of a bigger sushi cylindrical roll. A whole Maki cylinder would look like a sushi kebab or shawarma.

What is the Difference Between a Maki Roll and a Temaki Roll?

Even though both Maki and Temaki rolls are essentially made of sushi, they have a few differences in their make-up and technique. Here are some of their main variations:

1. Shape

Sushi Roll Shapes

Maki rolls are more conventional in their cylindrical shapes. They are what Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ would look like if it were food. 

Temaki rolls are typically ice cones but without the biscuit or the ice cream. Instead, the rolls are made of seaweed stuffed with vinegar rice, raw fish or seafood, and other preferred toppings like vegetables (cucumber, carrots, etc.) or fruit (avocado, cherries, etc.). 

2. Size

Maki rolls are smaller compared to Temaki rolls since Maki rolls are pieces cut from a larger roll. Interestingly though, one Temaki roll would use only half the size of nori used to make a whole Maki cylinder. 

3. Serving

Serving Temakis
Maki serving
Maki servings

When it comes to serving, Maki and Temaki have several differences to them, such as:

  • Since Maki rolls are bite-sized cuttings, they are served in larger amounts compared to Temaki rolls. Usually, one person would have a maximum of two to three Temaki rolls when hungry. The same person could eat up to six Maki rolls. 
  • Maki rolls are also served and eaten with chopsticks because of their general design. Temaki rolls, which are wraps, are eaten by hand.
  • Maki rolls can be served on one platter to be shared among many, while Temaki rolls are generally served per person and are difficult to share.
  • Because of their small size, you can eat one Maki roll in a single bite, but a Temaki roll requires a few bites before you can finish the whole of it. 
  • Thanks to the use of chopsticks, you can easily dip Maki rolls in a sauce before eating them. Temaki rolls are a bit harder to eat with sauce unless you do not mind getting messy.

4. Rolling Technique

Aside from their shape, the other main difference between Maki and Temaki rolls would be their rolling techniques. Maki rolls require both expertise and the makisu bamboo mat for a perfect roll.

Temaki rolls are much easier to make. With all the ingredients, you can simply hand-roll your Temaki cones at home without the pressure of having them come out perfectly like Maki rolls. 

5. Variations

You can have your Maki rolls in different ways thanks to the several possibilities of ingredient arrangement. 

The standard Maki roll consists of two separate layers of vinegar rice and raw fish wrapped in seaweed. However, you can find Futomaki, for example, a broader version of the common Maki.

The broadness comes from adding more ingredients to the roll, like vegetables, or setting thicker layers of the rice and fish. 

Hosomaki is a narrower version of the common Maki made of thinner layers. 

Uramaki, also known as a California Roll, is an inside-out version of the common Maki, where the nori wrap is at the center of the Maki roll. 

With Temaki rolls, the variation comes more from the toppings you choose rather than the arrangement of the ingredients. You can have as many different ingredients as you want, including avocado, shrimp, onions, pepper, etc.

6. Popularity

If you ever saw a sushi roll on TV, in a movie, or on a billboard somewhere, there is a high chance that it was a Maki roll. Temaki rolls are more homebound and rarely appear in the media.

Below is a summary of the differences:

1. ShapeCylindrical in shapeCone-shaped
2. SizeSmall and bite-sized.Bigger than a Maki roll and consumed in several bites.
3. ServingServed in small bite sized portions that can be shared among many. Served in whole and meant for one person. 
4. Rolling Technique/preparationRolled using a makisu bamboo rolling mat.Rolled by hand.
5. VariationMany variations depending on the arrangement of basic ingredients.Temaki rolls differ depending on the toppings used.
6. PopularityMaki rolls are more popular in Japanese restaurants and in general media. Temaki rolls might only be available in select Japanese restaurants and are rarely shown on mainstream media.

Read Aso: What Makes Gelato More Expensive than Ice Cream?

Are Maki and Temaki Basically Sushi?

Yes, Maki and Temaki are basically sushi served in different shapes, sizes, and arrangements, depending on what the consumer prefers.

So, next time you order one, you should already be having an idea what to expect.

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