Take-out Fake-out: California Rolls

by Shawnda on April 29, 2007

in DIY,Seafood,Take-out Fake-out

California Rolls

Sometimes the best way to get into the water is to accept that it’s going to be cold and dive right in. Other times call for the more gradual dip-your-toes-in-first method. The latter is how I see my husbands experience with sushi (I fall somewhere in between). He’s not a big fan of the raw fish concept but I have the simplicity of the weird-free California rolls to thank for our regular “sushi nights” now.

My husband isn’t the only one in the house with boundary issues when it comes to sushi – I have a few of my own: No visible tentacles, no creatures that previously had tentacles, and no eel. I just haven’t developed those tastes yet or the bravado to acquire them. What I do love is a cold slab of tuna, salmon, or red snapper. Wanna deep fry a Phoenix roll in tempura for me? Sure – go ahead!

California Rolls

There are a couple of nice sushi places on our side of town. I prefer to stay away from the uber-pretentious sushi joints of the Galleria area and downtown – I just can’t justify dropping that much money on snotty ambiance; it seems like such a waste.

While it lacks the variety of eating out, at-home sushi is fun. Trying, but fun. Half the battle is finding the ingredients in one place. I have a very disappointing grocery store nearby – they’re always out of random items just when I need them and sometimes carry a shake-your-head questionable inventory. What good is selling nori (seaweed) if you don’t sell sushi rice (and vice versa)? The other half of the battle is figuring out how much rice is too much – the rolls sometimes get out of hand size-wise really quick!

I made California rolls for the first time after a realization at dinner last week: the rice is on the outside. I don’t typically eat California rolls so I’ve never even noticed before. It was fun to lean a new technique, although it needs some work! It was actually easier to roll rice-side-out than nori-side-out.

California Rolls

California Roll
1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch strips
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and matchsticked
4-5 crab sticks
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Pickled ginger, for serving
Wasabi paste, for serving
Lite soy sauce, for serving
Nori (seaweed)
1 recipe sushi rice (below)

Cover a bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap. Cut nori sheets in half crosswise. Lay 1 sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the plastic covered mat. Wet your fingers with water and spread about 1/2 cup of the rice evenly onto the nori. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds. Turn the sheet of nori over so that the rice side is down. Place cucumber strips, avocado and crab sticks in the center of the sheet. Grab the edge of the mat closest to you, keeping the fillings in place with your fingers, and roll it into a tight cylinder, using the mat to shape the cylinder. Pull away the mat and set aside. Cover with a damp cloth. Repeat until all of the rice has been used. Cut each roll into 6 pieces. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

Sushi rice (scaled from Alton Brown’s Good Eats)
1 cups sushi or short grain rice
1 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.

Place the rice and 1 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi or sashimi.

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