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California Rolls for the Home Cook
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
55 mins

Most people only eat California rolls at restaurants. Maybe because they look hard to make? They're not! Give it a try, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Course: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 16 pieces
Author: Nelson Cardoso
  • 1 cup uncooked sushi rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 avocado (ripe but not overly soft)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 long pieces imitation crab (surimi)
  • 2 sheets nori (toasted seaweed sheets)
  • 1 tbsp black and white roasted sesame seeds
  • soy sauce, for serving on the side
  • pickled ginger, for serving on the side
  • wasabi paste, for serving on the side
  1. Steam the sushi rice with 1 1/2 cups of water for about 25 minutes. You can also do this in a pot. Follow the rice instructions for best results.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt and sugar, until both the salt and sugar are dissolved.

  3. Once the rice is cooked, transfer the rice to a large bowl.

  4. Pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and carefully mix with a wooden spoon.

  5. Set the bowl aside and let cool for about 25 minutes. Once it's cool, the rice will be sticky, but not wet.

    Sushi rice
  6. Peel and seed the cucumber, and cut into thin sticks (like long matchsticks or a little thicker).

  7. Cut the avocado down the centre and around the stone. Twist it apart and remove the stone. Spoon out the flesh from the shell.

  8. Cut one half of the avocado flesh into slices. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the avocado slices to prevent it from turning brown.

  9. Set aside your imitation crab.

    imitation crab
  10. Cover the (bamboo) sushi rolling mat with plastic shrink wrap and place it on the table.

  11. Place a sheet of nori on the rolling mat, shiny side down.

  12. Wet your (clean) hands and scoop out about one cup's worth of rice in one hand. Place it on the nori sheet.

  13. Pat and flatten the rice carefully across the nori sheet to cover it almost to the edges. Don't press down too hard. Get a little more rice from the bowl if what you have won't cover the sheet.

  14. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the rice evenly.

    Sushi rice covering a nori sheet
  15. Carefully flip the nori sheet over so that the rice is now on the bottom. Don't worry, the rice will stick to the sheet while you're flipping it.

    Nori sheet with flattened rice below
  16. Place the avocado, cucumber and crab meat across the nori sheet evenly (so that every cut piece has a little of each). Note: This photo was taken before we made two adjustments. We spread the avocado a little closer to the edges, to cover the full width of the sheet and we brought all the ingredients a little lower on the nori sheet. It should be placed about a quarter of the way up the nori sheet (from the edge closest to you).

    Avocado, cucumber and crab on a nori sheet
  17. Place your thumbs underneath the mat under the edge closest to you, and use your other fingers to carefully pull the fillings inward as you roll the matt over and around the fillings into a cylinder. Close your hands and squeeze gently on the mat to shape the cylinder. Pull away the mat and roll the rice a little forward using the mat. Press the mat over the rice gently again to form the cylinder. Slowly repeat this step until you've formed a nice round roll.

    A long California roll before it's cut
  18. Wet your very sharp knife and cut the roll into 8 equal pieces. Note: Keep wetting the knife after each cut. Use sawing motions rather then pressing down. An easy way to cut the pieces in equal sizes, it to keep cutting each half in half until you have all 8 pieces.

    Cut California rolls
  19. Now place your sushi pieces on a serving dish, along with the soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. Enjoy! You just made homemade California rolls... be proud!

Recipe Notes

There are work arounds, but ideally you'll have a:

  • very sharp knife
  • sushi rolling mat and plastic shrink wrap to cover the mat

You can replace the rice vinegar, sugar and salt with the same quantity of sushi vinegar.

Wash/wet your hands often when working with the rice... its sticky!