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My Kind of California Rolls

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I break a lot of rules in this recipe.  I don’t make my California Rolls inside out.  I don’t use sesame seeds.  I saute the carrots with garlic, ginger, and sesame oil instead of using them raw.  I don’t cool the rice before rolling the California Rolls.  I use shrimp instead of imitation crab for allergy reasons.  I use short grain brown rice instead of white sushi rice.  We eat them like a burrito instead of sliced in to cute little circles.  Nevertheless, we like them this way.  I guess that’s all that matters.

I learned to make California Rolls from Alton Brown.  He really is my favorite TV Chef.  He’s the perfect mix of Science Guy meets foodie for my inner geek.  If you’ve never watched, give an episode a try.  Here is Alton Brown’s recipe for California Rolls and the corresponding video (here is the entire episode) for those who want to see a recipe that uses mainline instructions.

Pickled radish is hard to come by.  Much of the time the ones you find have corn syrup and food dyes in the ingredient list.  Either one of those would strike it from our preferred ingredient list, so most of the time I just use cucumber.  I’m having an inclination to pickle my own daikon radish to try sometime.  Should I?

Sushi rolls are traditionally served with a variety of condiments.  Pickled ginger, wasabi paste, and soy sauce are the three most common condiments.

For our family, soy sauce is out, and we may not have an alternative when this meal is prepared, so it is normally omitted.

Pickled ginger isn’t popular here either, so I just add powdered ginger to the carrots.

Wasabi paste is an acquired taste too.  You likely won’t find pure wasabi in the United States.  Wasabi is expensive and it isn’t easy to grow.  Most of the ones you find commercially do not even have wasabi in them.  They just contain horseradish, mustard, and green food dye, so no dyes for us.   Then I found a wasabi powder that has horseradish, mustard, and wasabi.  Yes, wasabi is last, but it has no dyes, so I got some.   I used this simple recipe for wasabi paste.  Then I let everyone try it for the first time today.  I only gave the kids a tiny dot each, but the results were pretty comical.  Buster wouldn’t wait for instructions before licking it straight off the plate, and he refuses to try it again.  Snuggle Bunny followed his lead, but was willing to try it again with a generous bite of sushi.  Little Man forgot about his until the end when he was polishing off his plate; that was an unwelcome surprise!  John and I thought it was a nice change, but I don’t know if I’ll order more in the future.  One little jar is going to be enough for six meals easily, so it should last a while.

What is your favorite sushi condiment?


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You will need a bamboo sushi mat to successfully roll your own California rolls.  They aren’t expensive and can be purchased at Asian grocery stores.

My Kind of California Rolls

3 c. brown sushi rice, cooked
5 Tbsp rice vinegar (to taste)
4 Tbsp sugar (to taste)
2 tsp salt (to taste)

1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 avocado, sliced
2-3 green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 cucumber or pickled radish sliced into long strips
1/2 – 2/3 cup cooked shrimp, defrosted and chopped (it’s easier to roll that way)

1 package roasted nori sheets

While sushi rice is cooking, mix vinegar, salt, and sugar in a measuring cup.

Wash and prepare vegetables and shrimp while waiting for the rice.

Sauté sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and grated carrot in a small skillet until tender (about 3-5 minutes).

In a large bowl, mix carrots and vinegar solution into the rice.

Place 1 sheet of nori rough side down on your bamboo rolling mat.

Coat a thin layer of rice over the entire surface of nori.

Pile avocado, cucumber, and shrimp in a line about 3/4 of the way down the sheet.

Roll sushi from the edge closest to the shrimp filling. Do not roll mat into sushi. Readjust the mat as needed to roll the sushi tightly. The completed product should not unroll.

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3 responses »

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