Lunchbox Handrolls

Posted by on Feb 26, 2013 in Chicken, featured, Lunch, Rice, Vegetarian | 7 comments

Lunchbox Handrolls

I’m always on the hunt for different low FODMAP ideas for what to include in our family’s lunchboxes.  The kitchen bench is usually a bit of a production line in the morning, cutting sandwiches, preparing snacks, and chopping fruit to keep everyone going during their day ahead.  And as great as sandwiches are, it is nice to have something different now and then.

Late last year I grabbed a few ingredients at the supermarket to make handrolls at home.  It seems I did that a bit too late into the year and didn’t get around to making them until after our summer break and school started back!  With so many sushi bars around these days handrolls are often an easy low FODMAP snack or lunch to grab when we’re out an about although, when there’s a few hungry mouths, they’re not an inexpensive option.  For a fraction of the price I was able to buy a packet of nori, sushi rice and a bottle of rice vinegar which would last a few handroll-making sessions.



Now, I don’t claim to be an expert at making these “Japanese sandwiches”; sometimes they turn out a bit loose or kinda bumpy.  I don’t even worry about using authentic fillings.  To start though, I do use the right rice.  This short-grained rice, labelled as sushi rice, sticks together well without being too starchy.  After it is cooked, some rice vinegar is folded through to give it a nice flavour, and then the rice is spread out onto a large plate to cool.  Don’t be tempted to put the rice in the fridge or else it will lose some of its’ stickiness.



When the rice is cool, set a bowl of water at the ready with your sheets of nori.  Wet your hands well to stop the rice sticking to them.  Divide the rice amongst the nori and press it out to cover the sheets, leaving a 2cm border at one end.



As you can see from my platter of fillings, my handrolls really are ricey versions of a sandwich.  Cold ham, tuna and chicken, grated carrot, cucumber sticks, lettuce and mayonnaise.  I would also like to try adding omelette into the mix some time.



I start by spreading a line of mayonnaise about 2cm in from the edge, and then simply arrange the rest of the fillings on top.



Now it’s time to roll.  Try to keep it as tight as possible, without causing the nori to tear.  You can purchase bamboo mats to help with the rolling; I still haven’t found mine since moving house!  Cling wrap might also do the job.  Dampen the edge of nori with no rice with water so that it sticks down on the roll.  Sit it seam down to set.



The last step is to cut each roll into portions.  I usually cut them in half or thirds and pack two or three per person for lunch.  Of course small bites would work well as part of a spread for a larger gathering.



What have you been packing for lunch lately?

Lunchbox Handrolls


2 cups sushi rice
2 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 nori seaweed sheets
mayonnaise and fillings of your choice
say sauce to serve

Cook the rice with water either in a covered saucepan, microwave, steamer or rice cooker as you prefer, until the rice is tender and water is absorbed.  Gently stir through the vinegar without crushing the rice, then spread onto a large plate to cool.

Using wet hands, divide the cold rice amongst the nori sheets.  Gently press the rice out over each sheet, leaving a 2cm border along one edge, wetting hands as you need to prevent the rice sticking.

Spread a line of mayonnaise 2cm in from the edge of the rice on each sheet.  Arrange your chosen fillings on top.  Roll the nori away from you, wetting the far edge to seal.  Slice into your desired sizes and serve with soy sauce.


  1. Yum! And you make it seem so easy too Nat. I’m definitely going to try these as our kids love sushi too. One question – do you keep these in the fridge overnight or make them fresh in the morning?

  2. Hi Simone,
    Ideally I would make them fresh in the morning and pack them into lunchboxes with an ice pack. Reality bites though, and I generally roll the night before; this means the rice isn’t quite as sticky the next day. Some recipes disolve sugar into the vinegar and I think this makes the rice a bit stickier, but I’d rather forgo the extra sugar and but up with a bit off rice falling out of my roll! The sugar certainly isn’t needed for taste.

    • Whew, I’m glad you said overnight in the fridge! I am organized but not organized enough to make sushi rolls in the morning while doing the ‘getting everyone ready’ routine – and I only have two kids! I wouldn’t add the sugar either, so I’m glad you suggest they are fine in the fridge overnight. I’ll endeavor to make them and report back!

  3. Thanks for the sushi recipe. I have been searching for a recipe with the nuts and bolts version. I love your recipes. I can usually find the ingredients with ease and even I can make them. And unlike you, I don’t love experimenting in the kitchen but I have used several of your recipes to satisfy my sons’ dietary needs. Thank you so much, and please keep them coming, liz.

  4. I’ve made sushi-style rolls with brown rice and spicy tuna salad inside before. I do use a little sugar in my vinegar mix for the rice, but it’s not very much and have never experienced dried out rice as we always prep ours the night before.

  5. Sounds great! Am always after new ideas for work lunches (this week is corn couscous salad).

    I often make ‘sushi salad’ – cooked rice (any kind); 1/4 avocado; tuna or surimi or salmon; finely chopped nori sheets; toasted sesame seeds; pickled ginger and soy sauce. Just like sushi in a bowl! PS I’ve never heard them called handrolls before!

  6. Thanks for the recipe. I dont actually like sushi rolls but I made them for my family and they LOVE them. They now see to be a regular lunchbox item for my family. I generally make them on Sunday night so I have time to fuss – and all ready for the Monday morning rush. I will try egg in them sometime as well – mine seem to like the chicken and salad best with lots of mayo…

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