California Rolls

The California roll is an example of an "inside-out" sushi roll, where the rice is on the outside.

California Rolls
5 rolls (or 30 pieces)
by 3.5 7  people
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    For the rolls:
    • 1/2 recipe Sushi Rice, slightly warm
    • 3 sheets toasted nori (dried seaweed)
    • Sesame seeds or flying fish roe for garnish (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons wasabi powder, mixed with 2 to 2-1/2 Tbs. cold water to make a paste
    • 1 large ripe avocado
    • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into fine julienne
    • 6 ounces cooked crabmeat or diced cooked shrimp, picked over for shells
    For serving:
    • 10 ounce jar pickled ginger
    • Good-quality soy sauce for dipping
    Sushi Rice
    • 4 cups raw Japanese sushi rice
    • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
    • 5 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt

    Prepare the fillings for the rolls:
    Cut slender wedges of avocado. Try this trick: without peeling, trim the top and bottom of the avocado and cut it in segments lengthwise to the pit. Pull away the peel and then gently grasp one segment at a time and pull it off. Set the avocado aside as you prepare the cucumber and crabmeat; set them aside as well.
    Coat the nori with rice and start the California roll:
    Stack the sheets of toasted nori and cut them in half, parallel to the lines on the seaweed (as if you were folding the longest side in half). Or crease them along the fold and then tear them apart.
    Completely wrap the bamboo mat in plastic wrap (to keep the rice from sticking) and put the nori in place. Make sure the mat lies completely flat after wrapping. Lay a sheet of nori horizontally on the wrapped mat, aligned with the edge of the mat that's closest to you.
    Moisten your hands with a little water to keep the rice from sticking. (Keep a bowl of water handy). Grab a large handful of rice and toss and squeeze it lightly to form a loose oval ball.
    Starting in one of the upper corners of the nori, spread the ball of rice across the top of the nori to the other side. Using both hands, "pull" the rice down to cover the nori. Spread the rice until the sheet is covered in a layer about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds or flying fish roe, if using, and pat evenly.
    Holding the top corners of the rice-covered nori, flip it over. The rice will now be face down on the mat. Keep the bottom edge of the nori even with the edge of the mat closest to you.
    Add the fillings and use the mat to make a neat roll:
    Using your fingers, spread a pinch of wasabi across the middle of the nori. A little goes a long way, so spread lightly. You can always put more in your dipping sauce if you like more heat.
    Lay equal amounts (about a small handful) of each filling ingredient down the middle of the nori. Start with a row of cucumber, overlap with the avocado slices, and then lay the crab on top.
    With all eight fingers holding in the ingredients, lift the edge of the mat closest to you with your thumbs. Tucking the ingredients into the middle of the roll, bring the edge of the mat over the ingredients and straight down. Leave 1/2 inch of the nori exposed at the top edge.
    Press the roll together with your thumbs and middle fingers, while pressing down on the roll with your index fingers.
    Lifting just the edge of the mat, pull it forward so that the nori roll rolls another quarter turn. The seam will now be on the bottom.
    Press again with fingers and thumbs, molding the roll into a squared log.
    Cut and serve the roll:
    Lift the mat away and transfer the roll to a cutting surface. Dip a sharp knife into a bowl of water and let a bead of water roll down the knife's blade. Cut the roll in half and then bring one half around and cut both into thirds. Stand the pieces up on a cut side.
    Repeat with four of the remaining sheets of nori (you'll have one leftover) and the remaining rice and filling ingredients. Serve the sushi with pickled ginger, a small dish of soy sauce, and a little mound of wasabi.
    Sushi Rice
    Rinse, cook, and season the rice.
    Measure the rice into a large saucepan and rinse it well until the water runs clear. Drain the rice and add 4-1/4 cups water to the pan. Let the rice soak for 20 minutes. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice steam, covered, for 20 minutes more.
    Moisten a shallow wooden bowl with a damp cloth and put the cooked rice in it. Mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the rice and gently stir with a wooden spoon until the rice glistens. Spread the rice over the bottom of the bowl, cool for 20 minutes. Flip the rice over with the wooden spoon, and cool another 20 minutes.
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