Tuesday, June 1, 2010

67. California Rolls, Sushi Made Simple also Seaweed free California Rolls

The thought of eating raw fish makes me cringe...the closest I ever came to having some was in college when one of my friends brought lox and bagels from home for a few of us to enjoy...technically lox are not raw, but they aren't far from it.

Not everyone is so hesitant to eat raw fish. Patrons could buy a sashimi dinner as far back as the 1950s at Miyako in San Diego. According to one source, by mid-1970s a chef in Los Angeles invented the California roll and since then, the number of sushi bars in the U.S.quintupled from the late 80s to late 90s.

 People who didn't know a California roll from a sweet roll were suddenly willing to try exotic Sashimi...raw seafood which is typically draped over a garnish and served with that hot, green wasabi paste and sometimes mixed with soy sauce for dipping.

(Some say that the reason for serving wasabi with sashimi besides its flavor, is to kill harmful bacteria and parasites that could be present in the raw seafood).

While I won't be eating raw fish any time soon, for me - Asian food is a taste magnet. I love sushi that features smoked eel or crisp vegetables. Having spent most of my life in the suburbs of Chicago, I was very lucky to be able to purchase freshly made California rolls and other combinations in our town's grocery stores...the Japanese chefs would make them in full view of the seafood counter and I was enthralled with their professional dexterity.

Fast forward to my current home in the Ozarks...no in-store fresh Japanese anything...but, we do have Youtube and video directions on how to make Califorina rolls. With the correct ingredients, a bamboo rolling mat and a little practice...perfection can't be far behind!

I did find out that there is a difference in (nori) seaweed sheets. Some are very fishy tasting and others are less so. The better sheets can be found in specialty shops.

Youtube video...shows exactly how to prepare sushi rice:


Youtube video...shows exactly what to buy, and how to prepare, roll and cut Califorinal rolls:


There are many videos on the internet for making sushi rice and California rolls; watch as many as you can to become comfortable with cooking the rice correctly, seasoning it and the rolling procedure. Making the rice is slightly time-consuming, but not difficult. There are many dos and don'ts for creating rice that sticks, yet is not gummy. Rolling out the first few rolls will be a test of your patience, but once learned, it is becomes a fun and easy way to have your own California rolls anytime, anywhere.

 California Roll Ingredients - bamboo mat, sushi rice, (nori) seaweed sheets, wasabi paste.
(you will also need rice vinegar, salt and sugar; vegetables and seafood)

Plastic Covered Mat, seaweed sheet with prepared rice

Rice-covered seaweed sheet flipped over, vegetables and seafood placed.

Rolled and Sliced California Rolls

Seaweed-free California Rolls

My husband does not like the flavor of the (nori) seaweed sheets typically used in California rolls...he said they are too fishy tasting. In view of those remarks, I wanted to try to make the rolls without the nori. I fixed the sticky rice without rinsing or soaking it. This preparation method produces an extremely sticky rice which holds its shape when rolled around vegetables and crab. I placed the rice on the bamboo mat, which was wrapped in plastic, and sprinkled it with the vinegar/sugar/salt mixture.

Next, selected vegetables and immitation crab meat were placed down the middle and the rice was rolled as usual. The resulting mock-California roll was acceptable to my husband's taste buds...the rice was a little sticky for me...but, at that point, I had eaten way too many rolls to be objective.

Very sticky rice rolled around imitation crab, avocado and cucumber

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