Recipe from The Sunset Cookbook
California Roll
Invented by a Los Angeles sushi chef in the early 1970s, the California roll is the West's original fusion food.

Makes: 6 rolls; 36 to 48 pieces
Time: 1 hour

  • 1½ cups short-grain white rice
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 6 sheets nori (dried seaweed; 7½ by 8 in.), toasted to soften (see Quick Tip)
  • 2 tbsp. wasabi powder, mixed with 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado (½ lb.), pitted, peeled, and cut into 1⁄4-in.-thick slices
  • ½ lb. shelled cooked crab
  • Soy sauce and pickled ginger

1. In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse rice under cold running water until water runs clear, 5 to 10 minutes. Put rice in a 2- or 3-qt. pan and add 1 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine ¼ cup vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.

3. Spread out rice in a shallow 12- by 16-in. baking pan and slowly pour vinegar mixture over it, turning rice gently and fanning it (with a handheld fan or a piece of paper) until it cools to warm room temperature, about 10 minutes.

4. Mix remaining 1 tbsp. vinegar with 1 cup water. Pour into a small bowl to moisten your hands so rice doesn’t stick to them while you’re rolling sushi.

5. Place a sheet of toasted nori, shiny side down, on a bamboo rolling mat (with slats running horizontally) or on a piece of plastic wrap (about 10 by 12 in.). Align long side of nori with bottom edge of mat (the edge closest to you). Dip your hands in vinegar-water mixture and scatter 2⁄3 cup rice over nori; pat into an even layer, spreading out to sides and bottom of nori but leaving a 2-in.-wide strip bare along top edge.

6. With your finger, spread a thin stripe of wasabi paste (about 1 tsp.) horizontally across center of rice. Arrange 4 avocado slices along wasabi stripe (it’s okay if slices overlap or if some ends stick out), then arrange about 2 tbsp. of crab on top of avocado.

7. Moisten top edge of nori with vinegar-water mixture. Holding fillings down with your fingers, lift bottom edge of mat with your thumbs (see photo 2, far left) and roll to shape sushi into a cylinder, rolling over bare nori edge to seal. Briefly press mat around roll.

8. Remove roll from mat. If desired, trim off any fillings sticking out. With a sharp knife, cut roll into 6 or 8 pieces, rinsing knife in water between cuts.

9. Repeat with remaining nori, rice, and fillings. Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger, and remaining wasabi paste.

Quick Tip: To toast nori, use tongs to wave each sheet over a gas or electric burner on high heat. Within a few seconds, the nori will soften and turn green.

Per piece (1⁄6 Roll): 47 cal., 17% (7.8 cal.) from fat; 2.1 g protein; 0.9 g fat (0.1 g sat.); 7.7 g carbo (0.6 g fiber); 74 mg sodium; 4.8 mg chol. 

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