Eel and Avocado Thick Roll

Thick rolls are ideal for your lunch. In this roll, pleasantly bitter arugula leaves, mild spicy daikon sprouts, richly flavored eel, good-quality crabmeat, and avocado create a sensational color, flavor, and texture experience. Put this in your lunch bag and enjoy an amazing midday treat.

NotesCutting Cucumber for Rolls:

One standard Japanese cucumber is about 8 inches long, to 1 ¼ inches in diameter, and weighs around 3 ½ ounces.  In order to cut the unpeeled cucumber into sticks for the rolls, first cut off ¼ inch from both ends and cut in half crosswise.  Cut each piece in half lengthwise and cut each of those pieces into 3 even long sticks, giving you 12 sticks from one Japanese cucumber.  When you use other cucumbers, adapt the instructions to the different size.  Japanese cucumbers are less seedy than Western varieties, so we do not remove the seeds, but if you use an American cucumber, remove the seeds.  Don’t peel the cucumbers.  And try not to buy waxed ones.

Heating Pepared Unagi, Eel:

Preparing unagi, eel, packed in a plastic bag is sold either frozen or already defrosted. It should be reheated before using.  Either microwave it in its own plastic package (make sure there are no foil packs inside the plastic wrapper) or heat it wrapped in aluminum foil for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 325°F.

Cutting Avocado for Sushi:

Cut the avocado into halves lengthwise and remove the pit.  Do not remove the skin at this stage.  Cut each half into 8 even, long segments and then peel off the skin from each segment.

Makes4 thick rolls


Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionBuffet, Cocktail Party, Cooking for a date

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, tree nut free

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturechewy, crisp, rich, salty, savory, spiced, umami


  • 1 package unagi no kabayaki (prepared eel) (½ pound) (for heating instructions, see below) or cured fish such as gravlax or smoked salmon (choose a less salty variety)
  • 3 tablespoons tsume (quick rich brown shoyu sauce) or Sriracha mayonnaise sauce
  • 2/3 package kaiware (daikon sprouts) (2 ounces) or other seed sprouts
  • Sixteen ½-inch-square, 4-inch-long cucumber sticks (for cutting instructions, see below)
  • 1½ cups good-quality canned crab meat or cooked crab meat (7 ounces)
  • 16 avocado sticks from 1 ripe but firm avocado (for cutting instructions, see below)
  • 2 cups arugula or baby salad green leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 6 cups (lightly packed) prepared sushi rice (1½ cups, 9.5 ounces, per roll)
  • 4 whole sheets nori (laver); choose the thick variety


  1. Remove the reheated eel from its package and cut it into three pieces crosswise, each about 4 inches long. Cut the head end and the middle pieces into 6 long strips lengthwise and cut the narrower tail section into 4 long strips, to make 16 strips.

  2. Line up all the filling ingredients—tsume, eel, daikon sprouts, cucumber, crabmeat, avocado, and arugula—on a tray. Now follow the instructions in the Master Recipe (My Mother's Classic Thick Roll)

  3. Additional Instructions:

  4. When you are using tsume in the roll, smear 1½ to 2 teaspoons across the center of each roll.

  5. Spread one-quarter of the fillings in the following order: eel, daikon sprouts, arugula, crabmeat, cucumber, and avocado.

  6. You can prepare this roll half a day in advance.

  7. Serve with or without an additional sauce.


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