Tonight’s dinner was California rolls! It’s been a tradition in my family to make them once in a blue moon. We each make our own roll, after watching my mother demonstrate the tedious process. It’s fun and rewarding to taste our very own dish!
First, let me give you a little history lesson about California rolls. As the name suggests, it originated in California, not in Japan, to accommodate for Americans’ aversion to raw fish and seaweed. A Japanese chef in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo invented a roll in which he used avocado because it tastes and has a similar texture to toro, or bluefin tuna. Americans were also skeptical about the chewiness of the seaweed on the outside of Japanese rolls, and instead hid the seaweed by rolling it on the inside, as you will see later. Each time my mother makes California rolls, she reminds my sister and I that these don’t exist in Japan, that they’re not true Japanese dishes. None the less, we still make it once in a while in our house. So here it goes:
Serving Size: 3 rolls
- 1 cucumber (Small and thin ones are better, but if you use a large one, make sure to take the seeds out)
- 6 imitation crab sticks (This can be found in the frozen section of any Asian grocery store)
- ½ avocado
- 3 cups of rice (must use Japanese rice, or short-grain rice)
- sushi seasoning (This can be found at any Japanese grocery store, or you can make it by mixing 1/4 cup of vinegar, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of salt).
- sesame seeds
- roasted seaweed (This can be found in any Asian grocery store)
- plastic wrap
1.Slice cucumbers and avocado.
Once the rice is ready, place rice in a large bowl and let it sit. (When hot rice is used, the seaweed sticks to it, and you don’t want that)
Pour sushi seasoning in rice. Mix by “chopping” the rice.
Grab a cutting board. Cut plastic wrap to fit the size of the board.
Place a sheet of seaweed on the wrap.
Place a layer of rice on the seaweed, leaving a little space on the side closest to you, as shown above. Flatten and even out the rice.
Sprinkle sesame seed on rice.
Place another sheet of plastic wrap on the rice, flatten and spread the rice out, pressing it in, as shown above.
Flip the whole thing over (like a pancake!)
Take the plastic wrap off the top to expose seaweed.
Place 2 slices of cucumbers, avocados and imitation crab sticks each, on the side closer to you.
Begin rolling, tightening as you go. Don’t be afraid to put force into it when tightening it. Take the plastic wrap off as you roll.
Grab a tall cup filled with water and dip your knife into it.
Slice the California rolls, but after each cut, dip the knife back into the water. (Cut fast! It’ll all fall apart if you don’t!)
Once you’re done cutting, (you should have gotten 8-10 pieces), take the plastic wrap off each piece. Lay each piece out on a plate, dipping your fingers into the water so the rice doesn’t get stuck on you!
Japanese people put a lot of effort in the presentation of food, so try making it look as appealing as you can!
And now we’re ready to eat!
We added Japanese-style fried chicken and edamame (soy beans), and of course green tea to accompany our meal!
How to Eat it:
We have a very small dish for soy sauce, as seen below. If you’re feeling feisty, put a dab of wasabi into the dish and mix it into the soy sauce. The more you put, the spicier it gets, so start with a little bit!
Dip the California roll into the soy sauce, but never soak it completely! Also, never put soy sauce directly onto the rice, as that’s considered bad manners.
I challenge you to use chopsticks to get the whole Japanese dining experience!
Let me know if you’ve tried it, and how it turned out!