crispy bagel roll


A third grader was telling me once about her favorite restaurant, and she said that it served “eggs and bagels and bacon and everything good.” That’s kind of how this sushi roll is – full of fish and cream cheese and avocado and everything good. And then it’s fried.


The first time Dave and I tried sushi, we were visiting friends, who took us to one of their favorite sushi restaurants. We ordered a crispy bagel roll, and it was so good! I haven’t found even one restaurant since then that serves anything similar. After almost two years of my friends mentioning that they went out for sushi and enjoyed the crispy bagel roll, I decided I’d have to try to re-create it at home.


I made sushi rolls a few times last year, and it wasn’t a disaster, but it was a lot of work, and I always ended up frustrated because my dull chef’s knife couldn’t cut through the nori. But since then, I’ve acquired a new knife and new inspiration from Jen, who makes homemade sushi seem so approachable.


Bagel rolls aren’t original to the restaurant I had them at, but recipes differ slightly. I looked up their menu and found that their version includes pretty much all of my favorite sushi ingredients – fish, cream cheese, avocado – everything good indeed. If I recall, they serve theirs with aioli, but I opted to just mix the mayonnaise with the fish before forming the roll.


And then there’s the “crispy” part. The rolls are delicious without frying, so if you want to stop here, be my guest! Making tempura batter, heating oil, and deep-frying the rolls adds a significant amount of work to an already labor-intensive meal. But it’s a fun way to give this roll a different flavor profile than a lot of other sushi rolls.


This roll lends itself especially well to being made at home, because it calls for smoked salmon, so there’s no worry about finding or working with quality raw fish. (Um, except that the pictures show tuna, because we love tuna. But smoked salmon makes more sense in this roll.) Plus, the roll is full of everything good. How can you go wrong?


One year ago: Olive Oil Bread

Bagel Rolls (rice recipe adapted from Alton Brown)

Unfortunately, I can’t share the tempura batter recipe I used because it’s I recipe I tested for Cooks Illustrated, and it isn’t published yet. However, I think this one would work fine. I fried the rolls until they were just slightly browned. I didn’t want the filling to cook, or even get warm really.

The only part of making homemade sushi that I haven’t nailed down is how much of the sheet of nori to use. The whole sheet is too much and ends up forming a spiral, but a half sheet isn’t quite enough to fit the fillings. I ended up using about 3/5 of the sheet and saving the scraps for sushi bowls.

Makes 4 rolls, serving 2 people

1 cup sushi rice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt

4 (8- by 7-inch) sheets nori (see comments above)
4 ounces smoked salmon
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 avocado, sliced
2 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

For serving:
Pickled ginger
Soy sauce

Rinse rice and let drain for 30-60 minutes. (I often skip this without any huge loss in quality.)

Place the rice and water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Heat the rice vinegar, sugar and salt (either in a small pot on the stove or in the microwave) until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold and cut thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Fan until rice is near room temperature. Do not

Chop the salmon into approximately ⅛-inch pieces and mix it with the mayonnaise. Fill a small bowl with tap water and place it near where you’ll be doing the rolling.

Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over a bamboo rolling mat. Lay 1 sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the plastic wrap. Wet your fingers with water and spread ¼ of the rice evenly onto the nori. Sprinkle the rice with ½ teaspoon sesame seeds. Flip the nori over so that the rice faces down onto the plastic wrap. Place ¼ of salmon mixture, the avocado, and the cream cheese in the middle of the nori. Use the plastic wrap to roll the nori and rice around the fillings, as tight as possible without squeezing the fillings out. Use the bamboo mat to shape and compact the roll. Leave the roll covered in the plastic wrap while you use the remaining ingredients to make three more rolls.

If you’re frying the sushi rolls: Heat 2-3 quarts of canola, vegetable, or peanut oil to 400C in a Dutch oven that holds at least 5 quarts. Remove the plastic wrap from a roll. Dip the entire roll into tempera batter. Fry one roll at a time for about 2 minutes, until the batter is firm and slightly browned. Drain on a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining rolls, making sure that the oil is at 400 degrees before adding the next roll.

Remove the plastic wrap from the rolls (if you didn’t fry them). Cut each roll in half, then half again and again to make 8 pieces for each roll. Serve with wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce.



  1. What a fun sushi variation!!

  2. These looks so good! I’m “new-ish” to sushi and like the more tame kinds (and not raw fish) and these look SOOOOOOOOOOO good!!

  3. What a wonderful post! I would love to make sushi at home but I figured the crunchy rolls (my favorites!) would be too hard. Also, I love your photography page-thanks so much for sharing your tips.

  4. I once tried making sushi at home… with limited success. But yours look absolutely delectable; it seems like all the work was worth it! And to be totally honest, if there’s one thing I miss about being a vegetarian, it’s fish sushi. So thanks for the temptation 😉

  5. Yum, these look so good. I love bagel rolls at sushi places, but a lot of times, they seem to have the roe, which I’m not a fan of. I will have to try them at home.

  6. I just had sushi last night! This roll looks yummy, but I have honestly never had one of the deep fried rolls. They seem to be so common now i restaurants.

  7. Oh my goodness, Bridget! You’ve GOT to stop taunting me! I’ve been CRAVING sushi lately and these look A-MAZING!

  8. I love sushi, it is my favorite. It is fun making it at home too!

  9. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to make sushi at home, but this looks really good. And I love Alton Brown. By the way, your page on food photography is SO helpful! THANKS!

  10. Wooo, deep-frying maki takes guts. Good on ya!

  11. Oh! I’m kind of a ditz. I didn’t know what made it a “bagel” roll, ha ha ha 🙂 We just call it a straight “salmon and cream cheese roll” (I think a Philadelphia roll has steak.) It may be a leeettle more work but not much more than the usual, I think! And it tastes really good too!

  12. susan in FL says:

    PW was bragging about her birthday gift from MM. He got her a sushi chef. Since then she’s been showing off what she learned. One thing you said you couldn’t figure out how much nori to use. looks like it should be 1/2 a sheet. Check out Pioneer Woman Cooks at

  13. sidfaiwu says:

    Well, I know what I’m having for dinner tonight.

    When you come back to visit, there are two other rolls you must try. One at the same restaurant, another Uptown – the best roll in existence.

  14. bunnies4buddha says:

    I want sushi now 🙂 Hooray for the crispy bagel roll. Sid’s right though they have added a few more rolls that are also delicious.

  15. jason says:

    what’s your recipe for tempura batter?

  16. bridget says:

    jason – I used the recipe that Cooks Illustrated recently published along with tempura shrimp. It’s in their May/June 2009 issue.


  1. […] found a recipe on The Way the Cookie Crumbles for Crispy Bagel Rolls and am inspired to at least try it.  I’ll go by Whole Foods this afternoon and […]