Sunday, January 8, 2012

California Roll Dreaming

I was dreaming about California Rolls and wanted to bring them to a friend's house since everyone is trying to eat healthy right now.  Including me.  But they're pricey when feeding a crowd since 9 pieces are somewhere between $6 and $8.

So I attempted to make them.  I don't like raw fish in sushi but rather wanted something vegetarian.  I went to a local Asian grocery store and bought my ingredients:

A bamboo mat, Nori wrappers (roasted seaweed), Japanese short-grain rice, and sushi vinegar (or you can make your own by heating 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. salt until grains of sugar are dissolved, then cool before using).

I also bought a cucumber, a ripe but firm avocado, and some crab sticks (fake crab).  I bought a Persian cucumber because they're about the same size as the crab sticks and they were available at the Asian grocery.  If you can't find them, you can use a regular peeled, seeded cucumber.  A Persian cucumber has a thin skin and doesn't need to be peeled or seeded.

I watched two videos on YouTube which helped me to understand the technique.  The first shows how to make sushi rice and the second shows how to form the rolls.  I made a couple of batches of rice and found that I deviated a little from the video technique and it worked better for me.

First, wash and drain 2 cups of rice about 4 times in cold water.  Then let the rice drain in the colander for about 15 minutes.

Then put the rice in a heavy pot and soak the rice in 2 1/4 cups cold water for another 15 minutes.  Cover it.  From this point forward, don't uncover the pot.  Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 15 minutes. (Set a timer!)

When your timer goes off, remove the rice from the heat and let rest (still covered!) for another 15 minutes.

Now you can uncover the pot!  The rice should be sticky and slightly shiny.

Using a wooden or plastic spoon, gently scoop the rice into a non-metallic, flat-bottomed bowl.  I used a pyrex baking dish.  Pour about 1/2 cup sushi vinegar over the rice and use a wooden spoon or plastic spatula to mix it in using a slicing motion.

Several videos I saw also recommended fanning the rice over a 10-minute period (to cool and dry it), occasionally flipping the rice over.  The goal is for the rice grains to be separate and not at all mushy.  Check out this guy's amazing technique!

While the rice is cooking, you can prepare your mat and your veggies.  Encase the bamboo mat smoothly in plastic wrap.  Slice the avocado in half, then slice the halves in thin, even slices, about 1/4 inch each.  Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning.  Slice the cucumber in sticks that are about 1/4" wide and the same length as the crab sticks.

Place a Nori wrapper (shiny side down) on the bamboo mat and spread about 3 or 4 ounces of cooked rice over it.  You should be able to see the wrapper through the rice.

Now flip the entire wrapper so that the rice side is on the bottom.  Layer a couple slices of avocado, then the crab sticks, then the cucumber.

Now use the mat to start rolling.

If you haven't already, watch this video to get the technique.

Here are some completed rolls before cutting:

And here's a whole platter full!

I made a spicy sauce with 2 Tbsp. mayo and 2 tsp. sriracha sauce that people could drizzle over top and also brought store-bought wasabi paste and pickled ginger.  Very tasty!

When I lived in New Orleans, a professional sushi chef named Yosh lived across the street from me for many years.  I wish I had asked him to teach me a thing or two!

Linking to:

Lark's Country Heart

Cast Party Wednesday

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

It's a Keeper


The Café Sucré Farine said...

I don't think you need Yosh, these look incredible - my kids would flip if I made these! Thanks for all the great tips!

Teri@thefreshmancook said...

These look beautiful. You should be proud of them! I have made sushi in the past and once I learned how, I found it to be one of my favorite things to make. I think it might have to do with the rolling. The entire process is very soothing to me.

Debbie said...

Wow! I have been intimidated to try Sushi at home, but your step-by-step makes me feel like I can actually do it! Thanks for posting this!
Debbie from Life Is Sweets

Debbie said...

I'm so impressed...and inspired! Thanks for sharing.

Miz Helen said...

Your California Rolls are just beautiful! Your photo tutorial makes it possible for even someone like me to be able to make this great recipe.Thank you so much for sharing on our 1st Anniversary Party for Full Plate Thursday. Have a great week end and come back soon!
Miz Helen

Miz Helen said...

Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you are having a wonderful day and enjoy your new Red Plate.
Hope to see you soon,
Miz Helen

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