Sushi is one of the first things that would pop into anyone’s mind when Japan is mentioned. It is, after all, one of the best- and most-presented Japanese dishes with all the different colors and ingredients that go into making it. If you want to try some Western flavor with an Asian twist, here’s how to make some simple California rolls in the nigiri or the handmade oval or sushi bar style.
Ingredients for Your Rolls
You’ll need some equipment if you’re making sushi for the first time. If finding the supplies and ingredients at your nearest supermarket is difficult, try looking in an Asian or Japanese food store in the area.
Before anything, find yourself a sushi roll mat. They’re made of thin bamboo sticks that are bound together into a flexible mat. Also, prepare a sushi knife (but any good, sharp knife in the kitchen works, too), a cutting board, a wood spoon, and some plastic wrap.
For the ingredients for California rolls, you need some sticky rice prepared in the style for sushi (be particular about getting Japanese rice because it has the sticky consistency you need), a pack of nori wrapper (crisp, dark green squares of seaweed), some rice vinegar, a fairly big cucumber, a couple of avocados (or mangos, if you prefer them), crab sticks, and a bottle of Japanese mayonnaise.
Get Your Sushi Rolling
Once you have prepared the rice to be used for your sushi, prepare the ingredients for the filling. Clean and peel the cucumber and then slice it into rectangular strips. Do the same for the avocado or the mango.
To keep it from losing its color, you could drop a little lemon juice on the avocado strips. Cut your crab sticks in half along its length. Then prepare all the ingredients on a plate or serving platter, so that they’ll be ready for you to use them later on.
On a clean cutting board, place your rolling mat such that the wooden sticks are vertical from your view. Add a layer of plastic wrap to keep things from getting messy. If your plastic wrap is the clingy or the sticky kind, face the sticky side to the mat. Then place a sheet of nori wrapper on the plastic wrap and then scoop some rice onto it.
Spread the rice evenly over the nori wrapper such that you have a nice, thin, and even layer over most of the wrapper while at the same time maintaining about an inch of bare nori wrapper at both ends. If you have trouble handling the rice, wetting your fingers will really help.
Once your rice is on your nori wrapper, turn the wrapper over so that you’re facing a blank side. Arrange your ingredient strips along the center of the wrapper such that they’re parallel to the bamboo sticks of the rolling mat.
You can put some Japanese mayo for added flavor. Roll your nori wrapper and then cut the resulting roll with a damp knife. Enjoy your California rolls with some soy sauce and, if you like, some wasabi.