Dragon Rolls (Caterpillar Rolls)

This is part 2 of Daring Cooks’ November Challenge hosts by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen.

Today I’m going to make a lady Dragon Roll dressed in fresh slices of salmon. It is a westernized version of Uramaki called ‘Dragon roll (often also referred as Caterpillar roll), rice on the outside and the nori (seaweed sheet) on the inside. The filling in the centre surrounded is by nori which is usually a thick slice of grilled eel and cucumber, then a layer of rice on the outside wrapped with thinly sliced avocado. Why is it called Dragon Roll? Simply because the green layers of the avocado resembles the scales of a dragon!

Dragon Rolls (Caterpillar Rolls)

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 1¾ hours to make the sushi rice
Yield: 2 inside-out (uramaki) sushi rolls

  • 2 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 1 sheet dried seaweed sheets
  • ½ Japanese cucumber or normal cucumber
  • Fresh salmon (sliced thinly if possible)
  • 1 avocado (sliced)
  • Vinegared Water (½ cup water combined with a dash of rice vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp fish roe (optional)
  1. Peel, remove core and cut cucumber into strips ¼” (6mm) x 7″ (175mm) long, then salt, rinse & pat dry the strips.
  2. Slice across against grain, thin pieces of fresh salmon and set aside.
  3. Halve, pit and peel the avocado. Cut the avocado halves into thin slices.
  4. Re-toast the nori sheet over a gas stove on low flame for 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Place a sheet of nori shiny side down on bamboo mat, lengthwise, on the edge the bamboo mat.
  6. Moisten lightly your hands in the bowl of vinegared water.
  7. Place one cup of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
  8. Place a plastic sheet over it. Place a bamboo mat on top of it. Turn the rice-covered nori over (so the bare nori is now on top) and place on the edge of the mat closest to you. Remove the other bamboo mat.
  9. Arrange 1 cucumber strip across the length of the nori, not quite centred on it but a little closer to you. Place some avocado sticks next to it and spread some fish roe next to the avocado sticks.
  10. Lift the edge of the mat closest to you with both hands, keeping your fingertips over the fillings, and roll the mat and its contents until the edge of the mat touches straight down on the nori, enclosing the fillings completely. Lift up the edge of the mat you’re holding, and continue rolling the inside-out roll away from you until it’s sealed. Tug at the mat to tighten the seal. If the rice doesn’t quite close the roll add more rice in the gap and re-roll using the mat to completely cover the inside-out roll.
  11. Arrange the salmon slices on top to cover the entire roll. Lay the plastic wrap mat over it and squeeze very gently to shape the roll.
  12. Leave the plastic wrap over the roll. Slice the roll into 6-8 equal, bite-sized pieces, wiping your knife with a damp towel before each slice. Discard the plastic wrap. Repeat the above to make one more roll.
  13. Arrange the cut pieces on a serving plate with the sauces so the finished dish appears as a dragon breathing fire and flames (or a caterpillar with many legs).

Dragon RollDragon RollDragon Roll

The Verdict

Nothing beats making your own rolls. It’s both a lot of fun to prepare them (you can invite friends and family to participate) and they just taste so good!

The above is just one of the combination you can do. Feel free to replace salmon with avocado, smoked salmon, ham or whatever you fancy. Do the same with the fillings. Let your imagination and creativity do the work. 🙂


When using raw fish or raw meat, always ask your fishmonger or butcher for advice and tell them that you are going to eat it raw. If in doubt, don’t use. You can purchase flash-frozen sashimi grade fish which is guaranteed to be free of all parasites. Sashimi grade fish should have a clean cool smell, if it smells fishy it is a sign that the fish is old and cannot be used. Consumption of raw fish is not advisable for pregnant women and young children.

Don’t make the most common mistake of putting too much filling in your roll. Golden rule is less is more when it comes to making sushi as it is easier to roll an under-filled roll than an over-filled roll.

Always dampen your knife with a moist lint-free towel before every cut as this prevents the sushi rice from sticking to your knife.

If you don’t have a bamboo mat, cut out a thin magazine to size and wrapped in plastic wrap or a few layers of parchment paper cut to a square of about 25 cm. (10 inches)

Conserve the leftover nori (seaweed sheets) in a tightly sealed plastic bag and use it within a few months. It can also be stored in the freezer. Nori will deteriorate if left out of its sealed package. If you can’t find nori in your area, you can substitute it with thin cooked egg omelette cut to same size as a nori sheet. (7 inches by 8 inches or 17.5cm x 20cm)

Dragon Roll