The California Roll: Making Sushi Accessible in North America

Sushi has not always been a popular style of Japanese cuisine in the United States. One of the key ingredients, nori, the traditional seaweed wrap used in the preparation of rolls, was a bit too unconventional to have broad appeal for American palates. Chances are this was largely psychological, because the California roll still incorporates nori, just more conspicuously.

There’s still some debate over where the California roll was invented. During sushi’s initial surge in popularity on this continent, many credited a California chef with the quintessential roll’s creation.

However, most modern sources now credit sushi chef Hidekazu Tojo in nearby Vancouver for the California roll’s invention in the ‘70s. Chef Tojo endeavored to create a roll more palatable to North American palates and sensibilities by using imitation crab meat instead of raw fish and including avocado and cucumber, both ingredients many local patrons could appreciate.

Maybe most importantly, he hid the nori by wrapping it on the inside rather than the traditional preparation where the nori is on the outer edge of the roll. He initially referred to it as an “inside out” roll because of this feature, but later dubbed it the “California roll” due to its popularity with diners visiting frоm the Los Angeles area.

The California roll is still the most popular sushi in the United States and is widely considered the most effective gateway into sushi cuisine.

The Secret to Making the Perfect California Roll

If you want to learn how to make sushi like the sushi restaurants do, here are some tips.

What Goes into a California Roll?

The ingredients for traditional California rolls are not all that complicated. It’s essentially just:

  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Crab or Imitation Crab
  • Nori
  • Sushi Rice

The real art of the California roll is preparing the ingredients properly and putting it together correctly.

1. Cucumbers need to be deseeded and cut in very thin vertical strips.
2. The avocado should be cut into approximately quarter-inch thick pieces.
3. Maybe most difficult, the sushi rice, which must be specially prepared, needs to be spread evenly across the nori sheet (shiny side down).
4. After the rice has been spread and the filler ingredients have been arranged in the center of the sheet, the roll needs to be wrapped and finished into tight cylinder using a mat, traditionally a bamboo mat.


What’s in the Sticky Sushi Rice?

You can buy specialty sushi rice, but you can also use short grain rice. Many recipes call for first rinsing the rice thoroughly before boiling and letting the rice sit in the water for 10 to 15 minutes to fully cook. Once the rice has been drained and transferred to a non-metal bowl, rice vinegar should be stirred in. The rice should then be cooled slightly before applying to nori sheet.

Spreading Rice on Nori

One of the most difficult steps to get the hang of for would-be sushi chefs is the rice spreading part. Trying to spread too much rice or too little will result in a less than ideal results. Most online recipes tend to suggest a half cup of rice per nori sheet.

It’s also highly suggested to keep your fingers somewhat wet when spreading the rice to prevent the sushi rice frоm sticking to your hands.

Sushi Rolls Can Be a Diverse Ingredient Delivery Vehicle

There’s no rule that says you must use cucumber, avocado and crab or imitation crab in your rolls. Shrimp tempura and tuna sashimi are popular protein choices, and virtually any veggie, frоm red onion and bell peppers to sweet potatoes and jalapeños can be added or substituted in lieu of the traditional California roll ingredients. If you’re attempting to make sushi rolls at home, the ingredients you use are up to you.

Get Professionally Prepared Sushi Right Near Issaquah and Seattle

Trying your own hand at sushi is all well and good, but you’ll be hard pressed to beat the professionally prepared sushi masterpieces at Snoqualmie Casino’s 12 Moons. Our authentic 13-seat sushi bar serves delicious, ultra-fresh nigiri, sashimi, house rolls and specialty rolls for both lunch and dinner. The 12 Moons Asian Lounge also offers cocktails, eight beers on-tap, and classic live piano played by exceptional musicians. If you’re looking for a relaxing and luxurious dining experience with exceptional sushi and Asian cuisine, 12 Moons is just a short drive away.