January 3, 2010

Vegetarian California Rolls

New Year's Resolution # 6: Make More Sushi!

After traveling around Japan, I developed a love for Sushi. Well, almost all Japanese food actually. You may be surprised to know; however, that the "California Roll" is named that for a reason. It was born in California. Ichiro Mashita, a sushi chef at the Tokyo Kaikan restaurant in LA invented the rolls in the early 1970's.

Traditionally, California Rolls consist of avocado, cucumber and crab meat. However, if you're like me and aren't a huge fan of spider-like crustaceans, I recommend trying this vegetarian version of the California Roll. Alternatively, you could use imitation crab meat or cooked shrimp in place of the crab.

Getting sushi rice right can be a challenge. I've gone through my fair share of it in attempts to master the art. Rice vinegar, sugar and salt is a mixture referred to as Awase-zu and is the seasoning added to cooked sushi rice. Finding the right ratio between these simple ingredients is key. Also, it is very important to properly wash, rinse and drain the rice which in turn can seem tedious and time consuming, but essential for good results. I guarantee, once you get the hang of it, your kitchen will become your new "sushi place"!

I hope everyone had great New Year!

I leave you with a picture of me dressed as a Geisha in Kyoto, Japan. A beautiful city that I hope to return to one day.

Makes approximately 5 Rolls (between 35 and 40 pieces)

Note: I highly recommend using a rice cooker to make sushi rice as it produces the best results at the click of a button.

For the rice:
3 cups raw sushi rice
3 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup plain rice vinegar
2 tbls superfine (caster) sugar
1 tsp salt

For the filling:
5 toasted nori sheets
1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 English cucumber, cut into long spears
1-2 carrots, peeled and julienned
About 1 tbls each of black and white sesame seeds
Cooked shrimp or crab (optional)

Rice cooker
Bamboo rolling mat
Wooden rice paddle

Place rice into a large bowl and fill with cold water. Stir briskly with your hands and pour away the cloudy water. Repeat this process 5 or 6 more times or until the water runs clear. Next, drain the rice in a colander for about 30 minutes.

Once the rice is drained, tip into a rice cooker and set to cook. Once the cooker bleeps, let the rice sit for a further 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Place the hot rice into a large, shallow, nonmetallic bowl. I use a large baking dish. Spread out the rice and slowly add the vinegar mixture. While adding the vinegar mixture, mix the rice with a wooden paddle using quick cutting strokes. While mixing the rice in a slicing motion you will need to fan it with your other hand. I use a large circular lid to do this. Fanning will cool the rice and help it to produce a wonderful glossy shine.

Cover the rolling mat completely with cling film (plastic wrap). This makes the mat easier to clean.
Lay one nori sheet onto the rolling mat. Using wet hands, evenly spread a portion of the rice over the nori sheet, leaving 3/4 inch visible at the end furthest away from you. Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds and carefully turn the sheet over. Place the cucumber, carrot and avocado in the center of the sheet. At the base of the mat, start to roll over the ingredients, pressing firmly as you go. Once you have formed a log shape, lift up mat and apply gentle pressure back and forth to ensure the roll is firmly molded.

Using a very sharp, wet knife, trim the ends of the roll and cut into thick slices. Repeat process with the remaining nori sheets and ingredients. Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi.


  1. I love Sushi. A Veggie roll sounds even better. Great shots.Happy New Year 2010.

  2. Wow..i love sushi..The shots really beautiful.

  3. perfect! I need to make more sushi too, not just buy it.

  4. this is a frightening concept... but I may just give this a try

  5. Jennie - Is that really you?! You're so photogenic!

    I had no idea that seasoning the rice was such an important part of sushi until recently. I'll definitely be trying this recipe soon.

  6. Yummy! Thanks for sharing. Have a sweet day!

  7. Popped in to say hi! My husband loves California rolls and sushi!

  8. Wow, I'm seriously impressed. And those photos are *gorgeous*!

  9. California rolls are my favorite roll. It's the avocado that slays me. Bravo for being able to roll them right. I tried once and it is hard! But the results are delicious.

    And BTW, you make one sexy geisha.

  10. I have the perfect recipe for sushi rice, your right the rice is all important!
    What an amazing photograph of you!

  11. This was a fabulous post on sushi. Loved it! Loved that stunning photo of you dressed as a Geisha. I have only attempted to make sushi once and it was not a bad effort. Yours looks perfect.

  12. Wonderful Sushi!
    Looks delicious, and beautiful.

  13. HI!
    compliments for your photo!!!!!!!!very beautiful!!!!!! your recipes are wonderful thanks for sharing!!!!!!!

  14. Beautiful blog. I like.
    Happy New year.
    See soon.

  15. You are an excellent photographer and a master in making sushi.

  16. mouthwatering sushi and you look wonderful in the geisha outfit!

  17. Isn't homemade sushi the best? It costs so much less than storebought and you can put in whatever filling you want. My roommates and I have added banana, peanuts, mango, etc. Sweet potato is another favorite!

  18. WOW!

    these look so good (I am in love with the clarity of your shots)

    not to mention SUSHI!!! YUM!

  19. We have yet to try our own sushi. Yours looks absolutely perfect! And I did not know that about the california rolls!

  20. I can definitely do your version of the California roll. Sounds and looks scrumptious!

  21. Making more sushi is actually one of my New Year's resolutions as well!
    I didn't have my picture taken as a geisha when I was in Kyoto and I regret it to this day.

  22. Thanks so much for visiting my site! Your blog is beautiful and enjoyed this post so much. I would love to try my hand at these california rolls. Your picture as a geisha is beautiful!

  23. It is very appetizing sushi.

    Thank you for showing a wonderful kimono figure.

    Kimono matches your beauty.
    You look like the noble of the Japanese Heian Period.

    From the Far East.
    Best regards.

  24. This looks beautiful! My NY resolution is to make sushi. Period. Ha, ha! I love it, but have never tried making it. I should have tried when we were in Brazil because all the ingredients were readily available (large Japanese population). Now I'll have to search a bit harder, but i'm sure I can find them.

  25. I love homemade sushi! California rolls are so easy to make and they look so delicious. I love all of your photos!

  26. Hello darling, I do hope you had a wonderful time ringing in the New Year and that 2010 turns out to be the best year of your life, followed by many more. Thanks for all your visits and sweet comments; you are a dear friend...a treasure.

    Love & Hugs

  27. I like your resolution Jennie! Keep it up please, because I have no idea how to make sushi and would love to learn.

    Printing... Yay!


  28. wow! these look SOOO good! i can not wait to make them!!

  29. Uau, que delícia, adoro sushi.
    A foto de Gueixa ficou muito bonita.


  30. I love all sushi, but I don't think I'd be very good at making my own!

  31. Hi Jennie! Thanks for visiting my blog.
    The fact that nyc has such good sushi has prevented me from attempting my own, even though I have the sushi mat and seaweed just sitting there in my kitchen! Your California rolls are gorgeous and I like the fact that they're vegetarian. I have those mock crab stick thingies they use in some places.

    ps: gorgeous Geisha photo...I want one too! :)

  32. It has been a while since I have made sushi, but you inspire me... love your photos....

  33. Mmmmmmmmmmmm !!
    Nice blog, shots and Happy new Year !

  34. All these presentations are a true art… All my congratulations, Jennie!

  35. I had the most delicious Spicy California Roll at a Sushi place the other day and I haven't been able to think of anything else since! Seeing this makes me think maybe I can make my own. Hmmm....

  36. This is cool! and i love it!!