Why go out when you can make this beautiful sashimi recipe at home?
California Roll Recipe
Make Everyone’s Favorite Sushi Roll At Home
The history of the California roll is recent and brief. An American invention, the original California Roll was made by a California sushi chef in the early 1970s. He efficiently turned leftover avocado, cucumber and fish cake into a maki (roll) sushi. To hide the seaweed, which many Americans did not like, he hid it in inside a layer of rice—today known as an “inside out roll.”
The roll was an instant hit and helped make sushi part of the 1970s health food movement. As recipes evolve (even for sushi), ultimately, crab stick (imitation crab meat) replaced the fish cake; at top-drawer sushi bars, real crab leg is used.
Aside from being a sushi bar favorite, you can serve California Rolls as party finger food and with wine or cocktails. The creaminess of the avocado, the crunch of the cucumber and the flavor of the crab stick are so tasty that the California Roll doesn’t actually require a soy sauce/wasabi dip, as blander raw fish sushi rolls do—although you certainly should provide one.
How do you make a California roll? It’s one of the easiest sushi items to make, because it doesn’t involve sourcing or slicing fresh fish or other exotic ingredients. Crab sticks, avocado and nori (dried seaweed) are available in almost every supermarket. You’ll be making them regularly. You don’t even need the traditional bamboo mat to make the roll.
Some chefs decorate the outside rice rice with red tobiko, flying fish roe; some use sesame seeds; most leave it plain. For Christmas, you can alternate with red and green fish roes. Other variations include substituting carrot or spinach for the cucumber. After you master the basics, you can be as creative as you like—as long as you keep the avocado and the crab or fish cake.
Learn more about sashimi in our Sushi & Sashimi Glossary. Learn more about the different types of tuna.
- 1 cup (230g) prepared sushi rice (see below)
- ½ avocado
- 4 crab sticks (or real king crab or jumbo lump crab meat for
a luxury California roll)
- ½ cucumber (preferably a kirby)
- 1 sheet dried nori seaweed
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- For a spicy California roll, add a few drops of hot pepper sauce to the mayonnaise
- Cut the peeled and pitted avocado and the peeled cucumber in quarters lengthwise.
- Spread the sushi rice over the sheet of seaweed, and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the surface.
- If you don’t have a bamboo rolling mat, place a sheet of plastic wrap on the worktop, and turn the layer of seaweed and sushi rice upside down flat on the the plastic wrap so that the seaweed ends up on top.
- Place the avocado, cucumber and crab sticks evenly down the center, and coat the filling with mayonnaise. Roll the layer up from one edge, and slice the roll into 8 pieces.
How To Make Sushi Rice
To cook sushi rice, it is important to remember that the rice should be cooked with less water than usual, and vinegar added to it while hot. Here is how to cook the perfect sushi rice.
- 2 cups (450g) Japanese rice
- 2¾ cups (630ml) water
- 1.5" x 1" piece dried konbu (seaweed, optional, for umami flavor)
- 1/2 cup (100 ml) rice wine vinegar
- 2½ tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Wash the rice and cook in water with konbu.
- Make the vinegar solution. Put the pan on low heat and heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture.
- When cooked, spread the hot rice in a flat-bottomed bowl or glass baking dish (the Japanese use a special wooden bowl called a sushi-oke). Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold swiftly with a spatula. Be careful not to mash the rice—just allow the vinegar mixture to come into contact with all of the grains. Move the spatula as if scooping the rice rather than blending it.
- Cool the rice swiftly using a paper fan, and gently turn the rice with the spatula. Fanning the rice prevents it from becoming overly sticky, and also adds luster. Use sushi rice immediately—don’t store it in the refrigerator. Cover it with a damp cloth if you won’t be using it for 10 minutes or more, to prevent it from drying out.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Recipe and recipe images courtesy of Umami Information Center. © 2007 UMAMI Information Center. All rights reserved. Additional material © Copyright 2005-
Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. Images are the copyright of their respective owners.