“This recipe will tell you how to make the most popular of Japanese sushi rolls, the California Roll.”
18-24 pieces

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. 1. We will begin by getting the rice ready. First, make sure that you have a bag of "sushi" rice. I find that Nishiki brand sushi rice is readily available at most supermarkets. Measure out 1.5 cups of this sushi rice.
  2. 2. Pour the rice into a metal strainer. Turn on your kitchen sink faucet and begin to rinse the rice underneath the water. I like to have a spoon on hand so that I can turn the rice while I'm rinsing it.
  3. 3. Rinse under the faucet until the water is nearly clear (and no longer white).
  4. 4. Sit the strainer of rice aside to dry for about one hour. You will notice a major improvement in the appearance of your cooked rice.
  5. 5. While the rice is drying, I move onto preparation of what will go inside the roll. First, I get my frozen crab meat sticks (Kanimi makes a nice 14 oz. package). I place them in a room temperature plastic container full of water to let them thaw. You may need to change the water 2 or 3 times to make sure it doesn't get ice cold.
  6. 6. While the rice is drying, and the crab is thawing, I prepare my vegetables. A typical California roll contains avocado and cucumber. Begin by peeling each vegetable. I use a standard peeler for the cucumber, and a pairing knife for the avocado.
  7. 7. Once peeled (and seed removed), do your best to cut the avocado into lengthwise wedges. They don't have to be perfect. Just try and make them long and skinny as opposed to short and fat. Keep these "avocado wedges" in a plastic container.
  8. 8. For the cucumber, keep the peeler handy. I go over the cucumber with the peeler just as if I were taking off the peel. In this case, though, keep the strips in a plastic container. These are your "cucumber strips".
  9. 9. Get some cellophane and wrap your rolling mat with the cellophane. I usually go around it several times, and both ways (across, and up-and-down). This will make your mat non-stick.
  10. 10. Measure out your 1/2 cup of rice vinegar. This is what will make your sushi rice "sticky" and allow it to retain its shape. Lay out a fork and a spoon next to your portion of rice vinegar. Also, set out a large baking sheet and make sure you have something stiff that you can fan with (a magazine, folder, etc. will work fine).
  11. 11. Remove three nori papers from the package. Cut them lengthwise so that you remove approximately an inch of paper from each. These papers tend to have a bit more nori than necessary.
  12. 12. Once the crab is thawed, I use kitchen shears to open the bag, and cut the strips in half. I dump the pieces into a food processor, and use the "pulse" function until the strips are turned into smaller minced pieces (quarter inch or less in length). Don't go too crazy, or you may end up with crab meat "powder"!
  13. 13. Remove the minced crab meat from the food processor, and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add about 8 tablespoons of Miracle Whip (or mayonnaise) and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix this into the crab meat with a wooden spoon until the consistency is even. This is your "surimi".
  14. 14. When your rice has sat about an hour, measure out 2 cups of water, and pour into a rice cooker. If you don't have a rice cooker, a covered pot is fine. Add the rice into the water and press "cook". For a regular pot, cook over a low flame for about 10 minutes.
  15. 15. When rice has cooked 10 minutes (or rice cooker is done), turn off heat and allow rice to sit for about 10 more minutes.
  16. 16. Spoon rice onto a baking sheet. Add a few spoonfuls of your rice vinegar over the top of the rice. Use a fork to fluff and stir the rice. The idea is to coat every grain with vinegar. While you are fluffing, lightly fan the rice with whatever you have available. Repeat this process until you are out of the rice vinegar, then fan a bit more for good measure. Your rice is now "sticky" rice -- or as the Japanese call it -- "sushi". Sushi is not raw fish, but rather, the rice!
  17. 17. Turn your faucet on so that it is running cold water. Fill a cup with ice cold water, and place a VERY sharp (not serrated) knife inside. I also like to keep a steel wool pad or Scotch pad handy. If you prefer to wear food preparing gloves, feel free.
  18. 18. Lay out one of your "cut" sheets of nori seaweed paper.
  19. 19. Moisten your hands with cold water. Coat all but the back edge with about 1/4 inch of rice. You will probably need to rinse rice off of your fingers/hands a few times. That is why I keep cold water running, and I work near a sink. This also prevents the rice from sticking to your fingers. Usually, a ball of rice about the size of a baseball will cover most of the nori. Leave that back edge devoid of rice. That will eventually become your "seam".
  20. 20. When you have your nori coated with 1/4 inch of rice, sprinkle with sesame seeds. You can also add masago (orange fish eggs) if you prefer.
  21. 20. Flip over your paper so that the rice is facing down, and the seaweed is facing up. The edge without rice should be right next to you.
  22. 21. Lay out avocado wedges end-to-end along the midline of your paper going from the left to the right edge. Add fingerfulls of surimi crab meat alongside the avocado wedges. Then, lay out strips of cucumber along the other side of the surimi crab meat. You will notice that the crab meat is "confined" between the avocado line and the cucumber line.
  23. 22. Lift up the edge of the mat near you, and begin to roll the "riceless" end of the paper forward over the ingredients you laid out along the middle.
  24. 23. When that edge makes contact with the seaweed paper (i.e. you have formed a circle), pull back on your mat a bit to tighten the roll. This will "seal" your seam (the point when the seaweed joins).
  25. 24. Once you have pulled to seal the seam, finish rolling until you run out of paper. This will "cover" your seam with a bit of extra rice so the seam doesn't come open as easily.
  26. 25. Lay the roll out on a cutting board. Drape the mat over the top of it, then crimp the edges underneath the roll and press down lightly. This is just one last way to preserve the roll's shape.
  27. 26. With the mat still draped over the top of the roll, align the edges of the mat with each edge of the roll. Lightly pat the edge of the roll with your palm to "flatten" them (i.e. no ingredients sticking way out).
  28. 27. Get your ice cold sharp knife. Gently cut the roll down the center. By gently, I mean do not even force it down with your arm strength. Only use your arm strength to "saw". Let the weight of the blade accomplish the downward cutting. If you press down while you cut, your roll will be flat where you cut it. You want it to be round.
  29. 28. After you cut it down the middle, lay out the two halves next to each other. Rinse your blade off, and I recommend brushing off the rice residue with a steel wool pad. That residue will only make it harder to cut on subsequent attempts, so I find that it is best to get rid of it completely.
  30. 29. With the two halves next to each other, make 2-3 cuts across both halves -- again cutting very gently, and rinsing the blade between cuts. Obviously, more cuts produce thinner pieces. If you're a beginner, you'll probably only feel comfortable making 2 cuts -- and you'll end up with super-filling thick roll pieces.
  31. 30. In a lot of sushi restaurants, they throw away the end pieces because they look bad compared to the middle pieces -- and I tend to agree. But you don't have to waste the food if you don't want to! Clearly, you can see now that there is a certain "art" to sushi-making. It takes some time to get very good at it.
  32. 31. Lay out your pieces on a plate. Serve with soy sauce and -- if available -- wasabe (adds a lot of spice to the soy sauce) and pickled ginger (can be eaten to cleanse the palate). Eat with chopsticks.

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