Avocado sushi roll.

Avocado sushi roll.

Get creative with sushi

In part two of our series for Sushi lovers, Kelly Choi, founder of Kelly Loves, explains everything about sushi fillings and how to make tempura rolls.

One of the most exciting things about sushi is that the opportunities are endless, with so many tasty fillings and toppings to choose from! From rich and indulgent smoked salmon and cream cheese, to fresh tuna and cucumber – there’s something to satisfy every craving.

Filling ideas

Sushi rice
The importance of good-quality sushi rice can’t be overestimated. The rice is the foundation of your sushi and so it needs to be fine, short-grain rice. Sushi rice is the ultimate ingredient over other variants as it has an increased level of starch and proteins which give it a sticky texture, ideal for forming sushi rolls.


For delicious, melt-in-your-mouth sushi, you’ve got to try adding avocado. It’s tasty on its own, with cucumbers in a vegan roll, or paired with smoked salmon for sushi that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Avocado has a great taste and texture, that pairs well with almost any ingredient.


With so many soft and creamy ingredients in many sushi varieties and recipes, it’s easy to neglect the texture. This is an important component in sushi recipes. Cucumbers bring a delicious fresh flavour to sushi, whilst adding that much-needed crunch.

Spring onions 

Spring onions are an excellent palate cleanser and could be the ideal addition to your next sushi dish. They add freshness and tang to the otherwise subtle flavours. This is a great way to balance the flavours, making sure that one doesn’t take over.

Cream cheese 

Cream cheese in sushi is truly a match made in heaven. It might not be the most traditional sushi ingredient, but it adds some rich, creamy indulgence to your sushi, and complements smoked salmon wonderfully.

Fresh fish

Fresh fish is what completes your sushi dish; it pairs beautifully with vegetables, mayonnaise and cream cheese. Sushi-grade tuna can be eaten raw and makes a meaty but fresh addition to your culinary creations, while other common fish used in sushi include scallops, clams, seabass and snapper.

Smoked salmon 

Smoked salmon has become one of the most popular sushi fillings and it’s easy to see why. However, salmon sushi did not originate in Japan, it was in fact the Norwegians that came up with the concept of salmon sushi, due to their surplus. Nonetheless, it’s a perfect addition!

Sushi topping ideas

Thin slices of fish 

This indulgent topping adds some richness to your sushi and is a popular finishing touch. Thin slices of tuna and salmon are commonly placed on top of sushi rice to make a tempting bite.


Masago is capelin roe (fish eggs) and often tops sushi or is added as a coating. Masago is usually a dull yellow colour, but is dyed brighter orange when on sushi. It has a mild flavour, but adds a nice texture to your rolls.

Sesame seeds 

Black and white sesame seeds are often used as toppings on sushi rolls. Not only are they pleasing on the eye, but they also add a nice crunchy texture to the exterior of the roll. If you lightly toast the seeds beforehand you’ll bring out their nutty aroma and flavour.

Crunchy onion  

Texture is so important when creating your perfect sushi dish, which is why onion is such a popular topping. Fried crunchy onion adds the most satisfying crunch when you bite into the sushi. Paired with a sweet and salty flavour, like ginger, wasabi and soy to establish balancing flavours.

Pickled ginger 

Pickled ginger is the perfect topping. It awakens your taste buds without overpowering the other flavours of the sushi. It’s also a great palate cleanser between different types of sushi. 

How to make tempura sushi rolls

  • A small mixing bowl
  • A cutting board
  • A large pan
  • A bamboo mat
  • A large wooden spoon
  • Chopsticks
  • A very sharp knife


  • 2 cups of sushi rice
  • 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Nori sheets
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • Fresh shrimp
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • Ice cubes to chill the water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • Extra plain flour for coating
  • Frying oil
  • Spicy mayo sauce


There are two main parts to the process of making tempura rolls: making the batter and making the roll.

How to make the tempura batter:

  1. Sift the flour into a small bowl and place to one side
  2. In a different bowl, beat the egg (using both the yolk and whites)
  3. Add the cup of ice-cold water into the bowl with the egg (making sure not to include the ice cubes)
  4. Add the flour into the bowl with the egg and water and gently mix together using chopsticks
  5. Take care not to mix the batter too much as it needs to stay a little lumpy
  6. Lightly coat the shrimp pieces in a little flour before gently dipping them into the tempura batter
  7. Dip the shrimp into a pan of hot oil until golden brown (the oil should be around 180°C)

How to make the roll: 

  1. In a bowl, mix together the vinegar, sugar and salt
  2. Pour in the rice and combine together
  3. Lay a nori sheet shiny side down on a bamboo mat
  4. Place a scoop of rice on the nori sheet and spread evenly, leaving around two inches at the top and bottom
  5. Flip the nori upside down so the rice is underneath
  6. Place your shrimp and other thinly-sliced ingredients on top of the rice near the edge closest to you
  7. Lift the end of the mat and roll it away from you, using your thumbs to keep the filling inside
  8. Slice into equal-sized sushi rolls with a sharp knife
Robert Prazak
Robert Prazak
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