Cucumber Wrapped Sushi きゅうりの軍艦巻き

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Cucumber Wrapped Sushi | Easy Japanese Recipes at

While everyone is busy planning and making holiday meals and baked goods, I decided to get a head start on Japanese New Year special meals.

I know it sounds crazy since it’s not even Christmas yet!  But in Japan we don’t generally get together with family and relatives for Christmas, but instead we get together on New Years Day or the first few days of New Years.

Cucumber Wrapped Sushi |

I was actually surprised to receive many requests for traditional New Years food recipes from the readers because I was never been a big fan of Osechi Ryori (Traditional Japanese New Years Meal, お節料理) while growing up in Japan.  I only have a few favorite dishes like Sweet Rolled Omelet (Datemaki 伊達巻) and Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Candied Chestnuts (Kurikinton 栗きんとん) but I mostly look forward to my mom’s Saikyo Miso O-zoni (Kyoto-style shiro miso soup for New Years 西京味噌のお雑煮).

Cucumber Wrapped Sushi |

Since Christmas or New Year’s Eve is not here yet, I decided to share these Cucumber Wrapped Sushi that could be served as appetizer for your holiday party or any get together.  This type of sushi is called Gunkan or Gunkan Maki in Japanese.

Cucumber Wrapped Sushi | JustOneCookbook.comGunkan (軍艦) meas “battleship” in Japanese, and the name comes from its oval shape.  Typically, gunkan sushi are wrapped around with nori seaweed and has toppings like salmon roe (ikura), sea urchin (uni), and broiled eel (unagi) on them.  But today I used thinly sliced cucumber to wrap around.

Once rice (or sushi rice) is cooked, you can quickly assemble the sushi right before you serve.  If you don’t eat raw fish, you can substitute with smoked salmon or simply create your own!

Cucumber Wrapped Sushi |

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Cucumber Wrapped Sushi
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 15-20 Cucumber Wrapped Sushi
  • 2 Japanese/Persian/English cucumbers
  • 3-4 cups sushi rice (vinegared rice) or regular Japanese steamed rice. (Read How To Make Sushi Rice).
Toppings of your choice
  • 4 oz Sashimi grade salmon
  • 4 oz Sashimi grade yellowtail
  • 4 oz Sashimi grade tuna
  • 4 Tbsp. salmon roe
  • 10 shrimp (amaebi)
  • 10 shiso leaves
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 lemon
  • Daikon radish sprouts (Kaiware Daikon) for garnish
What you will need:
  • 1 round cookie cutter (I used one with 1¾ inch (4.5 cm) diameter)
  1. Slice the cucumber with peeler to make long thin strips.
  2. Place shiso leaves on a serving platter and put the cookie cutter on top of a shiso leaf. Stuff sushi rice into the cookie cutter about half way and remove the cutter gently. Roll the sushi cylinder with one strip of cucumber slice to measure the circumference of the circle.
  3. Make slits at the end of cucumber slice with knife as you see below. Now you can interlock the strip around the rice.
  4. Fill in the cucumber wrapped sushi with your favorite toppings. Here I diced tuna and lightly marinade the tuna with scallion, soy sauce and sesame oil. Place the tuna mixture in the cucumber cup.
  5. For shrimp (amaebi), I place a couple pieces from outer edges to center in the cucumber cup, so it looks like a flower.
  6. Slice the sashimi-grade fish perpendicular to the muscle (the white line you see in the fish) and place a few slices in the cucumber cup.
  7. Garnish with lemon and Daikon radish sprouts. Serve immediately.
Inspired by my blogger friend Akemi-san of Nippon Nin who recently made cucumber wrapped sushi on her blog.

Total time is not including the time spent for preparing fish or steamed rice/sushi rice.

Please understand the amount of ingredients are rough estimate.

All the sashimi-grade fish and seafood are from a local Japanese supermarket.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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  1. The sushi looks sooo pretty & yummy Nami. And super healthy at the same time. Its rare that you get such a combo in a single dish. I love how neatly you rolled it all up.
    Its been ages since I landed on your page. So digging your posts. Hope you are keeping well & warm!

  2. Lee G

    Hey Nami. That looks wonderful. I had some sushi similar to your this summer. It was delightful. You also make it look so easy. I hope it is!

  3. What beautiful sushi creations! You are just amazing, Nami. I think these sushi look so spectacular, better than anything I’ve ever had. We have a sushi making kit at home and I do have all the ingredients you mentioned, so this is a great appetizer idea for any time. I did try your Hamburger Steak and we had it last night. I’ll share that with you later. Thanks for taking the time to share this cucumber wrapped sushi, Nami! Enjoy the holidays.

  4. Terrific looking sushi! And the photos are outstanding. The Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Candied Chestnuts sounds really interesting – I hope you plan to post that recipe sometime! Anyway, good sushi, good post – thanks so much.

  5. Nami, I’ve never seen such elegant pieces of sushi. They’re like jewels presented on a platter. You don’t want to spoil the perfection by actually eating them but oh, I bet they’re delicious. :)

    Happy Holidays

  6. Wow. These look so beautiful and fancy! Looking at this and comparing it to American holiday foods, this is so healthy! I can`t wait to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family as well!

    Hope your holiday has been good so far, Nami! :)

  7. I still remember the time I discovered your blog. I saw the picture of your temari sushi in tastespotting or foodgawker and I couldn’t stop feeling amazed at how beautiful they were! These new sushi you did are absolutely beautiful. Japanese cuisine is really a special kind of gastronomic adventure. Thanks for sharing Nami! Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  8. Hi Nami! Your sushi platters are drop dead gorgeous, I’m in love with the brightness and the beauty of all the sushi. You’ve created one remarkable post here-now I’m craving sushi;-)

  9. Nami, your life certainly sounds far more zen than ours! These look wonderful, healthy and colourful. Great way to start 2013 on a fresh note. Happy holidays to you, Nami, and looking forward to many more of your fabulous recipes, photos and joie de vivre! Jill xo

  10. Dumpling Love

    These are so adorable, Nami! I love it…I wish I could reach into the screen and grab the plate! haha. Love the idea of using cucumber – sometimes the nori gets a bit soggy, especially with the sashimi and tobiko fillings. Thanks for sharing, and beautiful photos! Hope you have a fantastic Christmas and that the new year brings you and your family the best of health, happiness, love and success!!

  11. what a feast for the senses! ^^ i love what i see.. the colors, the presentation.. they’re gorgeous, nami! so elegant and classy.. they must taste fabulous too ^^! i’m drooling over here! ^^

  12. Eha

    Oh, Namiko-san, I have not seen anything a beautifully appetizing and healthy and happy to eat all year! I have never been a huge Christmas person, but love the experience of New Year! May the whole holiday period be a safe, happy and fulfilled one for your whole family and may the New Year shine more than bright! Thanks you for the wonderful learning experience :) !

    • Hi Eha! Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I’m really thankful that you follow my blog and share your stories with us. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  13. Absolutely stunning and a lovely guilt-less appetizer for the holidays or any time! Chloe is home from Japan, and contrary to popular belief, she did not eat a lot of sushi because it is SO expensive! Between your beautiful photos and watching “Jiro Loves Sushi” last night, I think we’re going to have a sushi making night this coming week! Happy holidays to you and your family, Nami!

  14. kristen

    Nami they r really beautiful….. too beautiful to eat, would make great gifts. Wish i was as talented as you.

    Merry Christmas

    • Hi Kristen! Thank you for your kind comment. You’d be surprised how easily this sushi can be made. I should have made a video! Merry Christmas to you too!

  15. Nami, this is fantastic! We have just been thinking of having a “private” Christmas for us 2 tomorrow before the holiday marathon kicks in with sushi, but I’d love to try your version here :)

  16. Holy cow Nami! Your sushi looks FANTASTIC! There is no way I could pull something that beautiful off. It looks absolutely stunning. Better than the stuff I get at my favorite sushi place. :) I like the idea of the cucumber rolls. They look fresh and healthy for the New Year. Plus we always like to make sushi for New Year’s Eve.

    On a side note, I made your sesame cookies last weekend. They were a hit this week at home and the office!

    • Hi Kristy! Thank you so much for making the Sesame Cookies! So happy to hear your family and your coworkers enjoyed the cookies. :) Thank you for letting me know! :) xoxo

  17. Hi Nami,
    these Sushi look so amazing and what a nice change after eating too many Christmas cookies:)
    The presentation is very elegant too. What are these pretty leaves you placed the Sushi on? They look very stylish.

  18. Linda | The Urban Mrs

    Sooo pretty! and looks very refreshing. I think I won’t be able to enjoy this since they look too beautiful to eat. I love how Japanese always take pride in their attention to details. Wonderful!

  19. We adore sushi and I was just thinking it would be fun to make at home over the winter break. Thank you for sharing your beautiful recipe and techniques, Nami! This is some of the prettiest sushi I’ve seen and looks incredible.

  20. Regardless the holiday traditions, I think these cucumber wrapped sushi make a gorgeous and drool-worthy presence at the party table. Love how festive and bright you have presented them. We haven’t had a chance to throw our own parties for this year, but I am looking forward for next year:) It will be spread of world flavors, including sushi like yours! Happy holidays and here’s wishing you, Shen & the kids a wonderful time together!

  21. Orchidea

    Oh my God!!! You gunkan maki look amazing! I have a friend from U.S. who is actually half JApanese and she talked me hot to make sushi… but this I ahve never seen, it is so beutiful with all the colors and makes me want to eat it! I would really like to try. We are soon off to my husband family for celebratign Christmas this yaer… so looking forward to it.
    Buon Natale (Merry Christmas)!

  22. What a beautiful presentation. We don’t have family near us at the holidays, so if I made this itwould be for friends and immediate family. We spend Christmas with our friends from South Africa each year, since they don’t have family around either. it’s like a fusion Christmas a little bit of every one’s traditions and a bite of what we created together. I would like to be at a Japanese New Year celebration!

  23. What a great idea for New Years! After all of the overeating during the holidays, I usually like to go light for New years eve. I usually make black-eyed peas and cornbread for New years day. I love the idea of wrapping the round sushi with cucumber! Aside from being tasty and healthy, they are also so very pretty! I hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday and New year celebration!!! See you next year!

  24. なみさん、こんにちわ~。ブログへなかなかお邪魔できなくてごめんね!IGでいつもおいしそうなレシピを見ていたけれど、やっぱりブログは迫力が違う~。コンピューターも直したし、少し落ち着いてきたし、そろそろそろ私もブログ再開への道をたどろうかな♪


  25. Dear Nami,

    I’m dead serious your sushi would put many Japanese restaurants to shame. Your selection and presentation is absolutely stunning. Now we’re off to the sydney fish markets to get our load of seafood for Christmas. Wishing you, Shen and your family a very merry Christmas and here’s to more of your delicious recipes for 2013!

  26. Oh Nami! This is my favorite post, bar none! It is beautiful and festive. And so interesting how it is put together with the little slits in the cucumber. I adore this. It sounds so delicious and refreshing too. Thank you!
    Wishing you and your adorable family a very merry and special Christmas and a New Year that is full of happiness and joy.
    Your friend,
    Lori Lynn

  27. Nami, it is soo beautiful, sushi is my favorite food. I would eat sushi on my last day on Earth -)) You did an amazing job here. I wish you the best in New Year, I hope you have wonderful holidays. Thank you for your friendship. Many hugs from me!

  28. Oh. My. Gosh! The most beautiful sushi I’ve seen! You make great food all the time – very pretty! And you make it look so easy…I don’t think I have the perfect touch to make such dainty sushi art. In fact, I have very shaky hands, so it will take many, many practices to even come close to this level.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Nami!

  29. Nami, I am so sorry to come so late! I might have impressed my family if I had served such elegant and original maki for Christmas! I will certainly prepare these soon and let you know how they tasted (maybe New Year’s Eve???). I also suppose they would please all those Europeans who hate nori… Your photos make it seem so easy and I do have the necessary circles to form the rolls too! I am impatient to end all the leftover food from Christmas and start playing with these cute maki.

  30. Nami, absolutely fantastic looking sushi – I think with all your wonderful instructions and step-by-step explanations, even I could be able to manage to prepare some sushi. Sushi wrapped in thin cucumber slices looks wonderful and different! I really love all of the pictures that you took, they look amazing! And the recipe does indeed look like the perfect appetizer for the holidays or any other get-together during the year!

  31. Wow! These look restaurant worthy!! I could eat this entire month on a daily basis! Yummy! Your family is so fortunate to have you cook for them everyday!

  32. Emily

    Those look amazing! After reading your post, I was so thrilled to find one cucumber left in the fridge and ran off to start making them! Surprisingly, they were really easy to make! I didn’t have any fish or meat for toppings, but I used diced mangos topped with caviar! It was delicious! I remember eating something similar at a Japanese restaurant once (mango + salmon) and felt so happy to be able to actually make these! 😀

    • Hi Emily! I’m SO happy to hear you made the cucumber wrapped sushi right away! Yay! And I LOVE the idea of diced mangoes with caviar… now that’s a nice dish! Thanks for trying this recipe Emily! :)