How To Make Perfect California Rolls - How To Make Sushi:
Food historians generally credit chef Manashita Ichiro
and his assistant, Mashita Ichiro, of the Tokyo Kaikan
restaurant in Los Angeles (located on the corner of 2nd
and San Pedro) with “inventing” the California roll in
the 1970s. The chef, realizing that many Americans did
not like the though of eating raw fish, created the now
famous California Rolls made with crab, avocado, and cucumbers.
Since then, American sushi chefs have created many variations with unique names
such as Spider Roll, Philadelphia Roll, and Rainbow roll. Most people in Japan have never heard of the
California Roll, though, and I would advise not trying to order one there.
Making sushi at home is
easy to do. Ingredients and equipment can be found at
Japanese and Asian foods stores, at most
large grocery stores, and online at What's
Cooking America's Cooking Store (see
green links on right and below).
I did a large amount of
reading on how to make sushi rolls before attempting my
first ones. Sushi making does requires a small amount of
initial practice. Don't be afraid to try! You can use the techniques
for making the California Rolls to make other variations
with different fillings as sushi rolls are extremely
versatile and you can make endless varieties. Think of a
sushi roll as a sandwich and it's sure to get your
imagination rolling as to what to fill it with. Be
California Rolls - American-Style Sushi Rolls:
Yield: 40 California Rolls
Rice Soaking Time: 30 minutes
Approximate Total California Rolls Time: 2 hours
Bamboo sushi-roll mat
Clean cutting board
Sushi knife or very sharp knife
Nori seaweed sheets
Rice Cooker (optional)
Wood spoon or plastic rice paddle for spreading rice
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups uncooked Japanese medium-grain sushi rice*
4 cups water
5 sheets of sushi nori (seaweed in big squares)**
1 large cucumber
2 to 3
Cooked crab meat or imitation crab sticks***
Wasabi (Japanese horseradish)
* Only use Japanese medium-grain sushi rice in sushi making. It is a medium-grained rice and gets sticky when it is cooked.
Long-grained American rice will not work because it is drier and doesn't stick together.
To purchase, see What's Cooking America's Store on
** Roasted-Seaweed (Nori)> - Sheets of thin seaweed which is
pressed and dried. As a general rule of thumb – good Nori is very dark green, almost black in color.
purchase, see What's Cooking America's Store on right.
Imitation crab sticks are the easiest to use. They can be found in Japanese food stores.
Making Sushi Rice:
In a small saucepan over
medium heat, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat
mixture just until the sugar dissolves (do not let it
boil). Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.
Start preparing the rice
approximately 2 hours before you want to make the sushi rolls.
Wash rice, stirring with your hand, until water runs clear. Place rice in a saucepan with water; let soak 30 minutes.
Drain rice in colander and transfer to a heavy pot or Rice Cooker; add 4 cups water.
NOTE: To improve the texture of the rice, after rinsing, let the
rice drain 30 minutes in the refrigerator before cooking (put the strainer with the rice in a large bowl to catch the water).
If you don't have a rice
cooker, place rice and water into a large heavy saucepan
over medium-high heat; bring just to a boil, reduce heat
to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Turn off
heat and let rice rest, covered, for 15 additional minutes.
When rice is done cooking
and resting, transfer to a large bowl; loosen rice
grains gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon by
cutting and folding (do not stir, as this will crush the
Either use the rice soon after preparing it, or cover it
with a damp cloth to keep it moist. Do not refrigerate the cooked rice.
Sprinkle the cooled rice
vinegar mixture over the rice, mixing together as you
sprinkle (add enough dressing to coat the rice but not
make it damp - you may not need to use all the vinegar
dressing). Spread the hot rice on top of a large sheet
of aluminum foil and let cool.
Preparing Sushi Ingredients:
Wash, peel, and seed cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise, then cut into long, slender strips.
Cut the avocados in half
lengthwise, then remove the pit; cut each section in
half again (lengthwise), and carefully remove the peel.
Cut the section in long slender strips. Sprinkle the
sliced avocado with lemon juice to keep from discoloring.
If you are using snow,
crab, remove the crab meat from the thicker portion of
the legs and cut in half lengthwise. If you are using
imitation crab sticks, remove the plastic wrapping and cut each in half lengthwise.
Place the cucumber slices,
avocado slice, and crab slices on a plate; cover with
plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use.
Making California Rolls:
(1) Lay the Bamboo sushi-roll mat on a cutting board with bamboo strips going horizontally from you.
(2) Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the
bamboo mat (shiny side down). Place the Roasted-Seaweed (Nori) on top of the plastic wrap.
Spread a thin layer, 3/4 to 1 cup, of Japanese medium-grain
sushi rice over 3/4 of the nori
leaving approximately one inch of uncovered
nori at each end.
It helps to wet your fingers with cold water
when you are patting the rice onto the nori.
Arrange strips of avocado and cucumber along
the center of the rice; top with crab meat.
Making Inside-Out Rolls -
spreading the rice on the nori, sprinkle
with poppy or roasted sesame seeds. Cover
with a sheet of plastic wrap on top. Lifting
with the bottom plastic wrap, turn over the
nori/rice sheet onto the bamboo rolling mat.
Remove top plastic wrap and proceed as
Rolling California Rolls:
Placing your fingers on the ingredients, carefully bring the
bottom end of the rolling mat and the plastic wrap up
and over the ingredients (tucking the end of the nori to
start a roll). Pull back the rolling mat and plastic
wrap, as necessary, so it does not get rolled into the
sushi. NOTE: Roll tightly with
Continue rolling the sushi
and pulling back the rolling mat and plastic wrap, as
necessary, until you have approximately 1 to 2 inches of
the top of the nori showing. Rub a small amount of cold
water on the edge of the nori and bring the nori around
so that it completes the sushi roll.
Gently squeeze the rolling
mat around the sushi roll until it is firm and forms an
even roll (be carefully not to squeeze too hard, as you
may crush the ingredients or squeezed them out).
Wrap the plastic wrap around the roll and set aside until
ready to cut. Refrigerate or for longer storage. Repeat
with remaining nori sheets to make additional rolls.
Cutting California Rolls:
Place rolls on a flat
cutting board and remove plastic wrap.
Using a Sushi knife or a sharp
knife, slice the sushi roll first down the middle. From
there you can cut it into 6ths or 8ths, whichever you
prefer (wet the knife between each cut to make it easier
to cut and keep the rice from sticking to the knife).
Serving California Rolls:
Turn the cut California rolls on end and arrange on a serving platter or Sushi Plates.
Serve with Wasabi (Japanese Horseradish), soy sauce, Pickled Ginger, and Chop Sticks.
Makes approximately 40 California Rolls.
Sushi Dining Etiquette:
At most sushi bars, the waitress will offer a hot towel to wash your hands so you can pick up sushi
with clean fingers. At home use hot washcloths.
Don't rub your chopsticks together to remove any splinters. It is considered rude!
With your Sushi order, you
will be served some pickled ginger, a small mound of wasabi, and soy sauce.
Eat a slice of pickled ginger after each variety of sushi to cleanse your
palate. It is not proper to mix the wasabi with the soy sauce.
Sushi is meant to be finger
food, quick and tasty. It is preferable to eat sushi with ones hands rather
than with chopsticks, but both ways are acceptable in America.
Eat the whole sushi roll at
once. It is not appropriate to eat part of a piece of sushi and place the
other piece back on a plate. Once you have picked something up you should eat all of it.
Exception: If the sushi is just too big to eat at once, bite the sushi in half and place the remainder back on the plate.
Do not dip the rice portion
of the sushi pieces into the Soy sauce as it becomes too moist and can cause
sushi to fall apart. Simply dip the topping or the seaweed (Nori) in the soy sauce before eating.
If a piece of fish is on top of your sushi, put the whole
portion in your mouth, holding the sushi so the fish part touches your
tongue (turn sushi upside down).
Sushi Combination Ideas:
Egg Salad Rolls:
Hard-Cooked Eggs & Mayo
Green Onion Strips
Cream Cheese Strips
New York Rolls:
Turkey or Chicken Strips
Cream Cheese Strips
Smoked Salmon (thin sliced)
Cucumber, cut into strips
Cream Cheese, cut in long, thin strips
Smoked Salmon Rolls:
Cream Cheese Strips
Summer Melon Rolls:
Cream Cheese Strips
Sliced cooked beef
Cucumber, cut into strips
Tuna Salad Rolls:
Scallions or Roasted Sweet Peppers
NOTE: When using raw
seafood in your sushi rolls, if you are unable to obtain SASHIMI grade
seafood from your fish market, avoid eating any seafood raw. It is always a
good idea to rinse the raw seafood gently in a mixture of salt and cold
fresh water before beginning preparation. A salt and water rinse should
always be done with Salmon and all varieties of Shellfish.
Approximate nutritional breakdown of sushi rolls:
140 calories, 11g fat, 33g carbs
Spicy tuna roll: 290
calories, 11g fat, 26g carbs
Shrimp tempura roll:
508 calories, 13g fat, 75g carbs
Philadelphia roll (salmon,
cream cheese, avocado): 319 calories, 5g fat, 30g carbs
Spider roll (fried
soft-shell crab): 317 calories, 12g fat, 38g carbs
California roll: 255
calories, 8.5g fat, 36g carbs
Cucumber roll: 136
calories, 0g fat, 30g carbs
Tuna nigiri (2 pieces over
rice): 240 calories, 1g fat, 27g carbs
Salmon sashimi (2 pieces,
no rice): 164 calories, 6g fat, 0g carbs
For more nutritional help with sushi, please check out my
Nutritional Food Chart.