Sunday, August 30, 2009

California Rolls

Yeah, I know, you need some shades to look at this image. I hope it gets the point across that I was able to make a roll, though you can't tell any detail!

In order to beat the heat, we opted for California Rolls. This post is not going to be one of my best. Actually, it's going to be on the shoddy side since I didn't do a lot of researching on how to make California Rolls and this was my first time making a roll of any kind.

I basically watched a couple of YouTube videos and quickly scanned a couple of recipes found during a Google search of "California Roll" to gather a guess at what I'd do. Bear with me. At least I have pearls of wisdom to remember for next time.

Rodney graciously collected images as I worked since my hands were all gooey. Please keep in mind that he does not tend to take food photos and white rice is hard to capture well. Hence the glaring first image above. But I'm proud that he tried for me!

Before we left for the store, Rodney prepared some rice in our little 3-cup Sanyo rice maker, which is ideal for 2-4 or even 6 people. We didn't have any sushi-grade rice and just used the regular stuff we had, short-grain Botan or CalRose brand rice, I forget now.

When we returned home, the 3 cups of rice was ready.

I made the sushi vinegar in a glass liquid measuring cup:

1/3 c rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Combine ingredients, stir until as much sugar and salt will go into solution. Microwave the ingredients for 30-40 seconds and stir the mixture until the sugar and salt go completely into solution. Let cool.

Meanwhile, I scooped out approximately 2 cups of rice from the three prepared in the rice maker into a large mixing bowl and spread it out to expedite cooling, taking care not to break any of the rice.

Once cooled (not quite to room temperature), I added 2 tbsp of the vinegar solution to the rice, and with the plastic rice scooper/paddle that came with the rice maker, I "cut" the solution into the rice until all of the rice was wet. At this point, according to many YouTube videos, I should have continued cutting the rice while physically fanning it to get to down to room temperature. Being pressed for time, I skipped that. I simply made it a point to stir the rice around on occasion as I readied myself to actually make a roll.


  • prepared rice (as above)
  • Nori sheets
  • sesame seeds
  • imitation crab sticks, quartered
  • cucumber, peeled and cut into thin slices lengthwise
  • avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced

  • Bamboo mat
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Sharp knife
  • Small/medium bowl of water with a small glug of vinegar added (disinfectant water used to rinse your hands
  • damp clean towel (to wipe your damp hands and clean off the knife blade)
Cut a long piece of plastic wrap from the roll -- long enough to fold over and cover both sides of the bamboo mat.

Cut a sheet of Nori in half. Place one half on the mat, (I forgot which side, dark or shiny, should be down and guessed). Grab a handful of rice and smoosh it around on the Nori to obtain an even layer. Use just enough to cover the Nori -- you want to be able to see some of the Nori under the rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
This rice is really too much and isn't spread out completely. Spread it all the way to the edges -- don't be afraid to let it touch the plastic. It actually helps the roll stay stuck.

Flip the Nori so the plain side is face-up-- the rice shouldn't fall off during the flip. Place crab sticks in the center of the Nori lengthwise, using 1 and 1/2 of the prepared quarters to cross the entire length. Add a couple of slices of avocado and a strip of cucumber to cross the length.

With the mat, roll the Nori over the crab, avocado and cucumber. You will want to look at a YouTube video or two here to get a better idea of how to do this.

Once the roll is tight, transfer it to a cutting board. Cut the roll into 6 or 8 pieces, depending on how thick you like your pieces and, more importantly, how sharp your knife is. If the roll is tight enough, it won't spring loose during transfer or cutting. Plate the pieces nicely and squirt a small side of wasabi from the tube onto the plate. If you're into the ginger, you should get some. We're not into it.


  1. The roll was dry. Additional rolls I made were with minced crab meat mixed into a small amount of mayo. That made it much more palatable.
  2. The cucumber slices and crab stick quarters were WAY too thick to roll easily. I should have essentially julienned the cucumber so they were thinner. The length was fine. See Note 1 about the crab meat.
  3. My rice didn't have nearly enough vinegar solution cut in the first time around and was much too sticky. Too much of it stuck to my hands and made the damp towel gross immediately in addition to the fact that quite a portion of the rice wound up in my hand-rinsing bowl. I cut in additional vinegar solution, 1-2 tbsp, for the remaining rolls and saw a tremendous improvement!
  4. Don't make rolls when you are starving. You'll eat them as soon as they are done, which means your Rodney is feeding you pieces of roll as he eats the majority all while you prepare the next one. Which may mean your Nori will be chewy. You really should let them stand a minute or two before consumption. It does make a difference.

  • cucumber: $0.69
  • avocado: $0.49
  • imitation crab meat sticks: $2.99
  • wasabi in a tube: $1.99
  • Nori: $1.69
Total: $7.85, or less than $2/roll or about $4 a serving. This cost estimate does not include the rice or account for the fact that we made 4 rolls and had tons of everything leftover!! I'm sure we could have made another 4 rolls with what we had, the crab meat being the limiting reagent.

We're definitely doing this again. The rolls became better and better as I made them. Trust me when I say that you'll learn from your first roll how to make the next an improved version. Next time, we're plannng on getting better crab stix.

I'm not sure what to put down for time.  It was probably 3 hours from start (including rice prep) to finish.