California Rolls

The first time I ate sushi was more than 25 years ago in Denver. The warehouse district of the city had several sushi bars that an old friend, Bob Frederickson, liked to visit.

After my first taste at 0ne of the bars, I fell in love with sushi. I particularily liked sashimi or raw fish. And I really was fond of the sushi rice. I still love sushi, and every once in a while, I head out to Konichiwa in Grand Forks for a fix.

One of this week’s e-mail offerings that I received from New Asian Cuisine is a recipe for California rolls, which many people associate with sushi. It’s from Hideo Dekura, Brigid Treloar and Ryuichi Yoshii, authors of “The Complete Book of Sushi.”

California Rolls
4 nori sheets
3 cups sushi rice
8 teaspoons ocean trout roe or tobiko (flying fish roe)
1 to 2 cucumbers cut into thin, lengthwise slices
8 jumbo shrimp (king prawns), cooked, shelled, veins and tails removed
1 to 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
4 to 8 lettuce leaves, torn or sliced (optional)
Lay 1 nori sheet on a rolling mat and put ¾ cup sushi rice on it. Spread rice over nori sheet, leaving ¾ inch of bare nori at far side and making a small ledge of rice in front of this bare strip.
Spoon 2 teaspoons roe along center of rice, using back of a spoon to spread. Lay 2 shrimp along center, with one-quarter of cucumber strips. Lay one-quarter of avocado slices along center. Add one-quarter of lettuce. Roll mat over once, away from you, pressing ingredients in to keep roll firm, leaving the ¾-inch strip of nori rice-free.
Covering roll (but not rice-free strip of nori), hold rolling mat in position and press all around to make roll firm. Lift up top of rolling mat and turn roll over a little more so that strip of nori on far side joins other edge of nori to seal roll. Use your fingers to make sure roll is properly closed. Roll entire roll once more, and use finger pressure to shape roll in a circle, an oval, or a square.
Using a sharp knife, cut each roll in half, then cut each half in half again. Then cut each quarter in half crosswise to make a total of 8 equal-sized pieces. Cut gently to maintain shape.
Yield: Makes 4 rolls (32 pieces).

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