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Jul 17, 2010 08:27 PM

Inside-out sushi roll nation of origin?


I've read the Japanese term for an inside-out roll is "uramaki" and that it was invented by a Japanese chef in Los Angeles in 1973 to hide the nori since Western palates were not accustomed to it at that time.

Is the uramaki form native to the United States or does it have its origins in Japan. It seems reasonable to believe such a simple item has to be Japanese.

Thank you.

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  1. It was invented in Los Angelese in 1973. It's not even widely, if at all, available in Japan.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      You can get it at Rainbow Roll Sushi in Azabu. But I'd rather poke my eyes out with hot kushiage sticks than eat there.

      1. re: Silverjay

        It appears "ura-maki" refers either to the entire category of inside-out rolls or is American translation into Japanese of the Enlish words. Further, it appears the Japanese call the things "ka-shuu-maki," translating as the "ka" (California), "shuu," (state), "maki," (roll).

        (The Japanese also refer to California as "karifounia" and the noun is written in a syllabic script called "katakana, which is used for, among other things, representing most foreign words and italicized material." (Katakana note not for you, Silverjay!))

        As an additional note, when we were out of nori at our home, my mom would take freshly cooked rice, wet her hands with a little warm salted water, and press small, round handfuls of it into rice balls for snacking. She would stuff some of those balls with pickled plum paste (umeboshi), pickles (oshinko), steamed spinach, and other nibbles. So rice can be formed around something and eaten naked. And that perhaps is where the American sushi chef from Japan rolled up his "new" idea and popularized sushi in the United States.

        1. re: snootcity

          Your mom, like most Japanese moms, made you onigiri or omusubi, as they've been doing for centuries. So no, that's probably not where uramaki comes from. Maybe you should try reading the history of these foods that are available through the web or perhaps some books. The history of the California roll is pretty well documented. No need to make ill-informed speculations. I do remember the first ka-shu makis that I had as a child were not uramaki. That seemed to come later.

          1. re: E Eto

            Ditto, it's well-documented as having come out of L.A.'s Tokyo Kaikan in Little Tokyo.

            It's also quite common to use Katakana when referring to Sushi Tane, on top of it's obligatory use for exotic words. So while writing "California" phonetically in Katakana would have been requisite, it would not be out of place to see traditional Sushi Tane written in Katakana as well.

          2. re: snootcity

            Didn't *everybody's* mom do this??

        2. Isn't this also called "gyaku-maki" ? Or is that something else?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tripeler

            Friend told me he heard a local sushi chef once refer to these ultra inside out rolls as obake お化けmakimono. Perhaps a jab at "sushi from the fiery depths of hell".

            1. re: K K

              Maybe the chef called inside-out rolls "obake-makimono" because they are white outside, like a ghost.