Sunshine Roll Sushi: Surprisingly Simple Recipe & Ingredients

What you need to know before ordering a Sunshine Roll…

Sunshine Roll
Sunshine Roll!

A Sunshine Roll is a fun combination of shredded imitation crab mixed with a spicy mayo sauce, delicious avocado, and a crunchy cucumber on the inside, with salmon as a topping and drizzled with a tangy unagi sauce! This roll does contain raw fish, however below you will find options to make this roll considered fully cooked! Below you will find FAQ, ingredients lists, and an easy at home recipe!

Main Ingredients

  • Shredded Imitation Crab
  • Salmon

SAUCES & Toppings

  • Spicy Mayo Sauce
  • Unagi Sauce

VEGGIES & FILLING

  • Creamy Avocado
  • Crunchy Cucumber

Dipping Sauces





I am a firm believer that the best bang for your buck at a sushi restaurant is to find those simple rolls that contain two meats or fishes. The sunshine roll is a perfect example of this, pleasantly combining delicious sauces with imitation crab and salmon. The imitation crab is typically shredded and mixed with a spicy mayo sauce. The entire sunshine roll is drizzled with a tangy unagi sauce!

Sunshine Roll With Avocado
Sunshine Roll

The Sunshine roll is easy to make at home, in all honesty the hardest part of making the roll is cooking the rice! We have recipes for everything to include our incredible spicy mayo sauce and unagi sauce!

Click here to visit our sushi roll library!

What is a Sunshine Roll?

A Sunshine roll is what is considered an inside-out sushi roll which means that the rice is on the outside of the nori (seaweed wrapping used to hold a sushi roll together). A sunshine roll is traditionally made with shredded imitation crab mixed with spicy mayo sauce, a crunchy cucumber, and a creamy avocado in the middle, with a blanket of delicious raw salmon on top. Sometimes another layer of avocado is added on top as well.

Other versions of the sunshine roll use tempura shrimp instead of imitation crab for their filling however the usual way found in restaurants is used with shredded imitation crab. People that get grossed out by the thought of raw fish but are still sushi lovers can use smoked salmon instead of raw salmon as the topping for their roll. Smoked salmon is not only significantly easier to find than sushi grade raw salmon, but it still can give off that instagram worthy look and makes the sunshine roll a fully cooked sushi roll!

Smoked Salmon That Can Be Used Instead Of Raw Salmon.
Smoked Salmon

What is the best way to serve and eat sushi?

When Serving Sushi:

Sushi is one of those fun meals that you will frequently see pop up on friends snapchat or instagram stories or whatever social media companies sharing application. Whether it is at a restaurant or in your own kitchen, sushi is extremely instagrammable. Sushi is very trendy and typically served at higher end restaurants, therefore there is a high likelihood that the group is either on a date night or out on the town and dressed accordingly! Lots of pictures are flying around on these kind of nights therefore the presentation of the sushi tends to get some notice!

Typically sushi is plated in a very eye catching and palatable pattern on plates that have good visual appeal, frequently made of melamine in traditional japanese fashion. Restaurants tend to make a big deal of the presentation. Some ways sushi is presented can be on a small wooden boat brought out to the table or even lit on fire!

Sushi Boat
Sushi Boat
When Eating Sushi:

Experienced sushi eaters know that sauces can make or break your eating experience. There are two ways that sauces can be eaten with sushi:

Sauces on or in the sushi roll

This tends to be sauces that are either mixed in with other ingredients or added as a topping. Examples of this are spicy mayo sauce which is frequently mixed in with shredded imitation crab or drizzled on top of the sushi roll in patterns that are visually appealing. Some other sauces that are put on top or in the sushi roll are unagi eel sauce and teriyaki sauce.

Sauces that the sushi roll can be dipped in

The first sauce and most popular that probably comes to mind is soy sauce. (I have linked my favorite soy sauce to the right or below on mobile). Soy sauce is cheap and can be found at any grocery store or restaurant. Soy sauce is also an ingredient in numerous other recipes, not just sushi or even japanese based recipes.

Soy sauce can be given a little extra heat by mixing wasabi into the soy sauce.

Sunshine Roll FAQs & Tips

Is a sunshine roll raw?

The short answer is yes, the sunshine roll is traditionally made with a blanket of raw salmon over the top of the roll. Does it have to have raw salmon? Of course not. Smoked salmon can be an easy substitute if you do not like raw fish or if finding sushi grade salmon is to much of a challenge. Here is a great link to learn more about sushi grade salmon.

What fish is in a sunshine roll?

There are two ways we frequently see sunshine rolls made. The most popular (and the way that we made our recipe below) is by using shredded imitation crab and raw or smoked salmon. The less popular way is to use tempura shrimp as a substitute for the imitation crab.

How many calories are in a sunshine roll?

There are roughly 350 calories in a sunshine roll and 45g of total carbs. This roll would be considered a relatively healthy sushi roll but is not as slimming as a philadelphia roll or simple california roll. My suggestion: don’t sacrifice flavor to save a few calories here and there!

What other sushi rolls are like a sunshine roll?

The sunshine roll is a solid option for an appetizer where you want the most bang for your buck since you get two meats and great sauces or as an easy at home recipe. Other sushi rolls that fit this bill are the Alaska roll and the extremely popular shaggy dog roll.

Is a sunshine roll spicy?

The easy answer is yes, this roll can have a little kick to it due to the spicy mayo sauce that is mixed into the shredded imitation crab. If you are making the spicy mayo sauce yourself, you can control how spicy the sauce is by adding more or less sriracha sauce. Visit our spicy mayo sauce recipe here.

What is a sunshine roll made of?

Sushi Rice: It is very important to use sushi rice instead of traditional long grain white rice when making sushi. Sushi rice and normal white rice differ in the fact that sushi rice is short grain and has more starch and protiens than long grain rices which is the traditional kind. The increased levels of starch and protein makes the sushi rice sticky which allows you to shape it into a roll. Click here to read our post about why you should use sushi rice instead of white rice!

Imitation Crab: Did you know that the vast majority of crab used in sushi is actually imitation crab? Imitation crab is made of starch and finely diced white fish and shaped to imitate the look of real crab meat from a crab leg. Real crab meat can be used as well, however it is not as easily found and is expensive and messy. Imitation crab can be found at any grocery store. Check out these other sushi rolls that contain crab!

Smoked, Canned, or Raw Salmon: Finding sushi grade salmon can pose a challenge to at home sushi makers. Raw salmon for sushi must be designated safe for consuming raw, do not assume all salmon can be eaten raw! With that in mind, alternative options for using raw salmon are smoked or canned salmon. My preference is smoked salmon which still has a great fresh flavor. Both of these options are easy to find in your grocery store.

Thinly Sliced Salmon
Thinly sliced smoked salmon

Spicy Mayo Sauce: This delicious topping can add a kick to liven up numerous dishes, not just sushi! Spicy mayo sauce is just a combination of sriracha and mayonnaise. You can make the sauce spicier by adding more sriracha and mellower by adding more mayo. Check out our recipe here.

Unagi eel sauce: Now if you aren’t going to add the actual grilled eel, the sauce is a must! It is a reduced version of a combination of soy sauce, mirin, and white sugar and can be described as sweet and tangy at the same time! Check out the recipe here!

Nori Sheets (Seaweed): Sheets of dried seaweed, otherwise called nori, are what are used to align the guts of the sushi roll. Nori is very healthy for you, and has relatively little flavor. Sheets of nori can be found at most grocery stores like Walmart, Kroger, or HEB or can even be ordered off of Amazon.

Sushi Rice On Nori
Sushi Rice on Nori

Avocado: Avocado is found in most sushi rolls, not just the rainbow roll, not to mention the fact that avocado is just down right delicious! To pick an avocado, look for dark skin colors and place them in the palm of your hand. If it is to firm, it is not ripe yet. If it is to squishy, it is overripe. You should be looking for a dark skinned avocado that you can give a slight squeeze!

Cucumber: Cucumber is found in the majority of sushi rolls, not only in the rainbow roll. The best cucumbers to use for sushi are what are called “japanese cucumbers” which are known to be straight, thin, and contain less water than a traditional cucumber. Cucumbers are known for numerous health properties.

Cucumber That Is Crunchy
Cucumber

How to make a Sunshine Roll

Cooking Equipment Required

  • Bamboo rolling mat inside a gallon bag
  • cutting board and a sharp knife
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Cling Wrap

INGREDIENTS  

INSTRUCTIONS 

Making Sauces & Preparation

  1. Mix a batch of spicy mayo sauce following this recipe
  2. Make a small amount of Unagi Eel Sauce. You can follow this recipe here.
  3. Add the seasoned rice vinegar to the cooked sushi rice and mix together.
  4. Place your bamboo rolling mat inside a plastic gallon bag (trust us, this makes clean up much easier, all you have to do is throw out the bag!)
Bamboo Mat In A Bag

Forming the Roll

  1. Place one half sheet of nori on the rolling mat (remember we tore the full sheet in half hamburger style) with the rough side facing up.
  2. Combine the shredded imitation crab meat with the spicy mayo sauce. Pro tip: use a cheese grater on the imitation crab meat to shred it!
Shredded Imitation Crab
  1. ONLY ONCE THE RICE HAS COOLED, grab a handful of rice and cover the rough side of the nori leaving a 1 inch gap at the top without any rice. If using sesame seeds, sprinkle them over the rice. Grab the nori by the top, and flip it over so the rice is against the bamboo rolling mat and the 1 inch gap is now on the bottom.
  2. Starting 1/3 of the way up from the bottom begin to align the “guts” of the sushi roll in a horizontal line. Begin with the cucumber matchsticks and sliced avocado and align them across the nori. Next, take your shredded imitation crab meat mixed with spicy mayo sauce and align it above the cucumber. The crab should be about a half inch to an inch thick all the way across.
  3. Grab both the sushi mat and the nori and roll the mat over from the bottom until the empty space we left at the bottom is touching the other side, squeezing down on the roll to make it nice and tight and allowing to hold its shape.
Rolling The Sushi

Presentation

  1. Once the roll is formed, it is time to add the salmon over the top of the roll. Cut the salmon lengthwise until it is no more than a quarter of an inch thick.
  2. Next, cut the salmon into strips roughly an inch wide and layer on top of the sushi roll. Check out the image below and this will make more sense!
Adding Salmon Slices To Sushi
  1. Once layered, it is a good idea to wrap the roll in cling wrap and roll it wound on your counter or cutting board. This helps the meats on top of your roll stay formed and in place.
  2. Once the roll is formed and the avocado has been added, it is time to add the spicy mayo sauce! There are two ways to do this: 1) The easy way is to just spread it across the top of the roll with a fork. 2) The “Instagram-worthy-way” is to put the unagi sauce in a small bag, cut off the corner and then push the sauce out of the bag while doing zig-zags up and down the roll.
  3. Place the roll on a cutting board and get a knife and damp paper towel. Cut the toll into 8 equal sizes (easiest if you start by cutting the roll in half). Before you make each cut DAMPEN THE KNIFE WITH THE PAPER TOWEL or else the roll will fall apart when you slice through it.
  4. Serve with soy sauce, take some pictures for your friends, and enjoy!
Sunshine Roll
If you enjoyed this recipe or have feedback, please scroll down and leave a rating, comment, or critique!
See our printer friendly recipe version below!

Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind while making sushi

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Sunshine Roll

Sunshine Roll Sushi: Surprisingly Simple Recipe & Ingredients

Perfect blend of salmon and crab!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack, sushi, topping
Cuisine American, asian, Chinese, Japanese
Servings 4 Rolls
Calories 350 kcal

Equipment

  • Bamboo rolling mat inside a gallon bag
  • cutting board and a sharp knife
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Cling Wrap

Ingredients
  

  • 8-12 oz Smoked or raw salmon
  • 4 Sticks Imitation Crab Shredded in a small bowl
  • 2 Cups Cooked Sushi Rice (See below link in notes for easy sushi rice instructions)
  • 4 Half Sheets Nori (See below link in notes for folding instructions)
  • 1 Small Cucumber (Sliced into matchsticks)
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Cup Unagi Eel Sauce Link to ingredients and recipe below in notes if making your own!
  • 1 Cup Spicy Mayo Sauce Link to ingredients and recipe below in notes if making your own!

Instructions
 

  • Mix a batch of spicy mayo sauce following this recipe
  • Make a small amount of Unagi Eel Sauce. You can follow this recipe here.
  • Add the seasoned rice vinegar to the cooked sushi rice and mix together.
  • Place your bamboo rolling mat inside a plastic gallon bag (trust us, this makes clean up much easier, all you have to do is throw out the bag!)
    Bamboo Mat In A Bag
  • Place one half sheet of nori on the rolling mat (remember we tore the full sheet in half hamburger style) with the rough side facing up.
  • Combine the shredded imitation crab meat with the spicy mayo sauce. Pro tip: use a cheese grater on the imitation crab meat to shred it!
    Shredded Imitation Crab
  • ONLY ONCE THE RICE HAS COOLED, grab a handful of rice and cover the rough side of the nori leaving a 1 inch gap at the top without any rice. If using sesame seeds, sprinkle them over the rice. Grab the nori by the top, and flip it over so the rice is against the bamboo rolling mat and the 1 inch gap is now on the bottom.
  • Starting 1/3 of the way up from the bottom begin to align the "guts" of the sushi roll in a horizontal line. Begin with the cucumber matchsticks and sliced avocado and align them across the nori. Next, take your shredded imitation crab meat mixed with spicy mayo sauce and align it above the cucumber. The crab should be about a half inch to an inch thick all the way across.
  • Grab both the sushi mat and the nori and roll the mat over from the bottom until the empty space we left at the bottom is touching the other side, squeezing down on the roll to make it nice and tight and allowing to hold its shape.
    Rolling The Sushi
  • Once the roll is formed, it is time to add the salmon over the top of the roll. Cut the salmon lengthwise until it is no more than a quarter of an inch thick.
  • Next, cut the salmon into strips roughly an inch wide and layer on top of the sushi roll. Check out the image below and this will make more sense!
    Adding Salmon Slices To Sushi
  • Once layered, it is a good idea to wrap the roll in cling wrap and roll it wound on your counter or cutting board. This helps the meats on top of your roll stay formed and in place.
  • Once the roll is formed and the avocado has been added, it is time to add the spicy mayo sauce! There are two ways to do this:
    1) The easy way is to just spread it across the top of the roll with a fork
    2) The "Instagram-worthy-way" is to put the unagi sauce in a small bag, cut off the corner and then push the sauce out of the bag while doing zig-zags up and down the roll.
  • Place the roll on a cutting board and get a knife and damp paper towel. Cut the toll into 8 equal sizes (easiest if you start by cutting the roll in half). Before you make each cut DAMPEN THE KNIFE WITH THE PAPER TOWEL or else the roll will fall apart when you slice through it.
  • Serve with soy sauce, take some pictures for your friends, and enjoy!
    Sunshine Roll

Video

Notes

-Folding nori hamburger style
-Popular spicy mayo recipe.
-Quick & easy sushi rice
-Easy Unagi eel sauce recipe
Keyword beginner sushi, beginner sushi roll, challenging sushi roll, crab, perfect sushi rice, Popular Sushi Roll, Sapicy Mayo for Sushi, smoked salmon, sunshine roll, sunshine roll sushi, sunshine sushi, sushi, sushi rice, sushi roll
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