Uramaki is a type of rolled sushi in which the rice is on the outside, rather than rolled up inside the nori. Many people call uramaki “inside-out rolls,” and this preparation is especially common in the United States, appearing notably in the California roll. Uramaki can be made at home, just like other types of rolled sushi, and it is also available at many sushi restaurants.
Before delving into the wide world of uramaki, it is necessary to clarify some of the terms used to describe sushi. Technically, “sushi” simply means “vinegared rice” in Japanese, referring to the key ingredient in a variety of foods. When rice is spread onto dried seaweed known as nori and rolled up, it is known as makisushi, or “rolled sushi.” Nigirisushi is made by forming a small clump of rice and adding toppings, while nigirisushi is made by wrapping rice into a parcel with a skin of fried tofu.
When uramaki is made, chefs spread a layer of rice onto a sushi mat, gently press a sheet of nori onto it, and then apply fillings to one end. Typically only one to three fillings are used, so that the uramaki does not become too big. Then, the nori, filling, and rice are rolled up, so the filling is encased inside and the rice faces out. Some chefs like to roll their uramaki in roe, sesame seeds, and other garnishes to make it more colorful.
Because sushi is extremely sticky, many cooks like to place their sushi mats inside a plastic bag to make uramaki. That way, the sushi sits on the plastic, rather than the bamboo of the mat, making cleanup much easier. It is also a good idea to keep a small dish of warm water around for dipping the fingers so that they stay relatively clean during the uramaki manufacturing process. Using a sushi paddle to spread the rice also helps with keeping the stickiness down.
All sorts of fillings can be used in uramaki, from vegetable mixes to seafood. For larger rolls, tempura shrimp and grilled eel can make interesting fillings, while more slender rolls can be made from mixtures of ground crab and thin pieces of vegetables. The important thing to remember is that uramaki tends to get very fat, very quickly, because of the outer layer of rice, so it is a good idea to refrain from going overboard in the filling department.