Hosomaki or “think roll” is a traditional style of roll found in Japan. It often has a single ingredient inside, but may have a combination, such as hamachi (yellowtail) and scallions, or umeboshi (pickled apricot, sometimes called pickled plum) and shiso (perilla) leaves. I love the simplicity of these rolls as each individual ingredient can be tasted but the flavors of the tart seasoned rice, the nori and the fish or vegetable blend are perfectly balanced. Spreading a little wasabi over the rice gives it a fun kick of spice!
Seed the cucumber and cut into sticks that are 1/8 inch wide and 7 1/2 inches long.
Lay a half nori sheet textured-side up (smooth/shiny-side down) on a cutting board with one of the longer sides closest to you. Lightly moisten your fingers with ice water and gently spread 1/2 cup of the prepared sushi rice evenly over the nori, leaving a 1/2-inch strip without rice at the far (long) edge. Carefully place the nori, rice-side up, onto a makisu (sushi rolling mat) wrapped in plastic wrap. If you like, add a small swipe of wasabi lengthwise down the rice or sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Place 3 to 4 cucumber strips lengthwise in the center of the sheet. Use your thumbs to lift the edge of the makisu closest to you and roll the sheet inside the makisu until the edge meets the rice. Make sure you leave the edge of the nori without rice exposed.
Lift the edge of the makisu off the sushi roll and continue rolling the sushi roll over until the seam is on the bottom. The nori strip without rice should seal the outside of the sushi roll. If it doesn’t, dip one finger in the ice water and swipe a very small amount of water along the bare strip of nori and let the roll sit on the seam for a few seconds.
Slice the roll into 6 even pieces. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, making 4 rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to garnish. Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi if desired.