The Melting Pot on a Mat: The New York Roll

Fact Checked By: Macaria Valerie

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In the sprawling culinary landscape of New York, where dishes from around the globe jostle for space and attention, a unique sushi roll stands tall, embodying the spirit of the city. Enter the New York Roll – a delightful fusion of East meets West, traditional meets modern, and where the iconic New York bagel breakfast serendipitously collides with the age-old art of sushi making. Much like the city itself, this roll is a harmonious blend of cultures, tastes, and textures, making it a gastronomic emblem of the Big Apple’s melting pot ethos. Dive in as we unwrap the layers of this contemporary sushi masterpiece, exploring its origins, ingredients, and the reason behind its soaring popularity.

New York Roll

The New York Roll is a sushi variant that often features smoked salmon or lox, cream cheese, avocado, and cucumber. Inspired by the popular New York bagel with lox and cream cheese, this roll fuses traditional Japanese sushi techniques with flavors beloved in the Big Apple.

Here’s a basic recipe for a New York Roll, inspired by flavors often associated with New York:


For the sushi roll:

  • 2 cups sushi rice, cooked and seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt
  • 4 sheets of nori (seaweed)
  • 200g smoked salmon or lox
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened and cut into thin strips
  • Black sesame seeds or toasted sesame seeds (optional, for garnish)
  • Soy sauce, for dipping

For the sushi rice seasoning:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Prepare the sushi rice:

Assemble the sushi rolls:

  • Lay a bamboo sushi mat on a clean surface and place a sheet of nori on the mat.
  • With wet fingers, evenly spread a layer of sushi rice onto the nori, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top edge without rice.
  • Place a few strips of cream cheese horizontally in the center of the rice.
  • Add a couple of slices of smoked salmon over the cream cheese.
  • Place some avocado slices and cucumber juliennes on top of the salmon.

Roll the sushi:

  • Using the bamboo mat, roll the sushi tightly, starting from the edge closest to you. As you roll, press gently but firmly to ensure the roll is tight.
  • Once rolled, use a sharp, wet knife to cut the roll into 6-8 pieces.
  • Optionally, you can sprinkle the roll with sesame seeds for added texture and appearance.


  • Serve the New York Roll slices with soy sauce for dipping. If desired, you can also provide wasabi and pickled ginger on the side.

Enjoy your homemade New York Roll! Remember, sushi-making is both an art and a craft. With practice, you’ll become more adept at rolling and can even experiment with various fillings to suit your taste.


Making sushi, including the New York Roll, can be a delightful experience. Here are some tips to enhance your sushi-making journey:

Rice Preparation:

  • Rinse Well: Make sure to rinse the sushi rice multiple times until the water runs clear to remove excess starch. This prevents the rice from getting overly sticky and gummy.
  • Seasoning: Once cooked, season the rice while it’s still warm for the best flavor absorption. Also, use a wooden spatula or a rice paddle to gently “cut” and fold the rice, which helps cool it and ensures the seasoning is well distributed without mashing the rice grains.

Nori (Seaweed):

  • Shiny Side Down: When placing the nori sheet on the sushi mat, the shiny side should face down.
  • Storage: Store nori in a cool, dry place, and once opened, keep in an airtight container to prevent it from becoming soft due to moisture.


  • Freshness Matters: Ensure that all your ingredients, especially the smoked salmon, are of high quality and as fresh as possible.
  • Cream Cheese: Let the cream cheese soften a bit for easier spreading. Alternatively, you can roll it into thin tubes when chilled for easier placement.


  • Bamboo Mat: Cover your bamboo mat with plastic wrap to prevent rice from sticking to it.
  • Don’t Overfill: Overfilling the roll makes it harder to roll and can result in a messy outcome. Less is more.
  • Tight Roll: Apply even pressure while rolling to ensure the roll is compact and holds together.


  • Sharp Knife: Use a sharp knife to slice the sushi. This helps in getting a clean cut without squishing the roll.
  • Wet the Knife: Dampening the knife blade with a cloth or paper towel soaked in water or rice vinegar helps prevent the rice from sticking to it.


  • Soy Sauce: Avoid soaking the sushi in soy sauce. Dip it lightly to enjoy the balance of flavors.
  • Wasabi and Ginger: These can be powerful flavors. Use them sparingly, and remember that pickled ginger (gari) is intended as a palate cleanser between bites.


  • The New York Roll, like many other sushi rolls, can be customized. Feel free to experiment with additional fillings or toppings, such as thinly sliced apples for a “Big Apple” twist or red onion for a bite.

Practice Makes Perfect:

  • Sushi-making is a skill. Don’t be disheartened if your first few rolls aren’t perfect. With time and practice, you’ll get the hang of it!

Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

Why This Recipe Is Just So Good…

The New York Roll, inspired by the classic flavors of a New York bagel with lox and cream cheese, is a delightful fusion of cultures and tastes. Here’s why this recipe is particularly cherished:

  • Fusion of Flavors: This sushi roll masterfully combines the flavors of East and West. The umami-rich smoked salmon is beautifully complemented by the creamy tang of the cream cheese, reminiscent of a beloved New York breakfast.
  • Texture Play: The creamy avocado, crispy cucumber, soft rice, and velvety smoked salmon provide a harmonious blend of textures in every bite.
  • Satisfying Richness: Cream cheese adds a rich creaminess that pairs perfectly with the fatty and savory taste of smoked salmon, delivering a satisfying mouthfeel.
  • Freshness: The cucumber and avocado add a refreshing note, balancing out the richer ingredients and making the roll feel light, despite its hearty fillings.
  • Visually Appealing: The contrasting colors—pink salmon, green avocado, white rice, and the black or deep green of the nori—make the roll visually enticing.
  • Versatility: The New York Roll is adaptable. It can be enjoyed by sushi first-timers and aficionados alike. The familiar flavors of smoked salmon and cream cheese can be a comforting introduction for those new to sushi, while seasoned sushi lovers can appreciate the fusion twist on a traditional roll.
  • Cultural Blend: Just like the city of New York itself, which is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and flavors, this roll encapsulates the spirit of embracing and celebrating diversity.
  • Memorable Flavor Profile: The unique blend of ingredients leaves a lasting impression on the palate, making it a recipe that many people want to return to and savor time and again.

In essence, the New York Roll exemplifies how traditional culinary practices can be innovatively adapted, producing something both novel and delicious. It resonates with those who appreciate familiar flavors in new contexts, making it a standout dish.

Storage Instructions

Storing sushi, including the New York Roll, requires special care due to its fresh and delicate ingredients. Here are storage instructions to ensure its freshness and safety:

Immediate Consumption:

  • Ideally, sushi should be consumed soon after it’s made to ensure the best flavor and texture. The freshness of the ingredients, particularly raw or smoked fish, is essential for taste and safety.


  • If you need to store the New York Roll for a short period, place it in an airtight container to prevent any air or moisture from affecting its quality.
  • Store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator, ideally for no longer than 24 hours.
  • When ready to eat, consume the sushi cold straight from the refrigerator. Avoid letting it sit out for too long as it can compromise the freshness and safety of the fish.


  • While freezing isn’t recommended for sushi rolls due to potential texture and flavor degradation, if absolutely necessary, you can freeze the New York Roll. Ensure it’s tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in an airtight container or freezer bag.
  • Consume within a month for best quality.
  • To eat, thaw the roll in the refrigerator for several hours. Do note that the texture, especially of the rice and avocado, might be compromised after freezing.

Avoid Repeated Temperature Changes:

  • Do not repeatedly take sushi out of and put it back into the refrigerator. This can not only affect its quality but can also be a safety concern.

Check for Freshness:

  • Before consuming stored sushi, always check for any off-putting smells or changes in texture or appearance. If in doubt, it’s safer to discard it.

Additional Tip for Rice:

  • Sushi rice can become hard when cold. If you’re consuming sushi that has been refrigerated, consider allowing it to sit at room temperature for a short period (15-20 minutes) for the rice to slightly soften. However, be cautious about letting sushi sit out too long, especially if it contains perishable fillings.

Remember, sushi is best enjoyed fresh, so aim to eat your New York Roll as soon as possible for the best experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some common questions about the New York Roll, along with their answers:

Q: What’s in a New York Roll?

A: A New York Roll typically contains smoked salmon or lox, cream cheese, avocado, and cucumber. It’s inspired by the flavors of a classic New York bagel with lox and cream cheese.

Q: Is the salmon in a New York Roll raw?

A: No, the salmon in a New York Roll is smoked, not raw. This gives it a unique, rich flavor reminiscent of the classic New York breakfast bagel with lox.

Q: Can I make a vegetarian/vegan version of the New York Roll?

A: Absolutely! You can omit the smoked salmon and use ingredients like tofu, pickled radishes, or other vegetables in its place. Replace cream cheese with a vegan alternative if desired.

Q: Is the New York Roll considered traditional sushi?

A: No, the New York Roll is a fusion dish, blending traditional sushi-making techniques with flavors popular in New York. It’s an example of how sushi has been adapted to local tastes around the world.

Q: I’m not a fan of cream cheese. Can I still make a New York Roll?

A: Of course! While cream cheese is a distinguishing ingredient, you can always omit or replace it with something else you prefer, like a light mayo-based sauce or another soft, creamy cheese.

Q: How do I store leftover New York Rolls?

A: Sushi, including the New York Roll, is best eaten fresh. However, if you need to store it, place it in an airtight container in the coldest part of the refrigerator and consume within 24 hours.

Q: Can I use fresh salmon instead of smoked salmon for this roll?

A: Yes, you can use fresh, sashimi-grade salmon in place of smoked salmon if you prefer a different flavor and texture. Ensure it’s safe for raw consumption.

Q: What can I pair with a New York Roll for a complete meal?

A: You can complement the New York Roll with miso soup, edamame, a light salad with ginger dressing, or other sushi roll varieties for a fuller meal experience.

Q: What is the difference between a New York roll and a bagel?

A: The main difference between a New York roll and a bagel is that a New York roll is boiled before it is baked. This gives it a crispier outer crust. Bagels are typically just baked.

Q: What is the best way to eat a New York roll?

A: New York rolls can be eaten plain or with a variety of toppings. Some popular toppings include cream cheese, lox, tomatoes, and onions. Other popular toppings include avocado, bacon, and eggs.

Q: How do I store New York rolls?

A: New York rolls can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. They can also be frozen for up to 2 months.


In conclusion, the New York Roll isn’t just another item on a sushi menu; it’s a testament to the power of culinary fusion and the beauty of cultural intersections. It serves as a delicious reminder that food, like society, evolves and adapts, embracing new influences while honoring its roots. Just as New York City remains a beacon for diverse aspirations and dreams, this sushi roll symbolizes how traditional and modern elements can come together in delightful harmony. Whether you’re a seasoned sushi aficionado or a curious first-timer, the New York Roll invites you to savor a bite of the city’s spirit, one roll at a time. As the city that never sleeps continues to inspire, so does its food, echoing the endless possibilities and rich tapestries of flavors. So the next time you find yourself contemplating a sushi choice, let the New York Roll be a delectable journey through the essence of a city where the world converges.

Photo of author

Macaria Valerie

About the author

With over 15 years of experience in the culinary world, Macaria Valerie has developed a unique niche expertise in the art and science of rice cooking. Born in Taipei and raised in San Francisco, Macaria's passion for perfectly cooked rice is a blend of her Taiwanese roots and modern culinary techniques. She has traveled across Asia, gathering traditional rice recipes and cooking methodologies. Macaria is not just about plain rice. She's explored the depths of risotto in Italy, paella in Spain, biryani in India, and sushi in Japan. Yet, she believes that the core of these dishes lies in mastering the basic foundation - the rice. In her popular blog, "Expert Reviews Best Rice Cooker", Macaria shares not only her favorite rice recipes but also reviews the latest in rice cooker technology. She's been a consultant for major kitchen appliance brands, aiding in the development and testing of their rice cooker lines. In her spare time, Macaria conducts workshops and classes, ensuring that the art of cooking perfect rice is accessible to everyone. Whether you're aiming for a simple bowl of fluffy white rice or venturing into the intricate world of flavored rice dishes, Macaria Valerie is your go-to guide in the rice cooker niche.

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