california sushi roll

California Sushi Roll Recipe | A Detailed Guide

If you are a sushi lover and want to try out a new variety of sushi, then you should consider trying the California Sushi roll. It has an excellent mouth-feel, texture, and taste to satisfy your sushi craving.

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Like most other sushi rolls, such as the Boston Roll Sushi, the ingredients of the California Sushi roll are very familiar. However, this roll calls for the use of (cooked) crab meat in its filling which sets it apart from most ‘raw’ rolls. 

Here is a step-by-step process of preparing the California Sushi roll at home.  

California Sushi Roll Recipe  


  • 1 cup short-grain uncooked white rice: if you want the roll to taste great, use a fine quality short-grain rice. Specifically, Arborio Rice or Carnaroli Rice are great choices.
  • 1 cup water: though not necessarily mineral water, make sure to use clean water.
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar: Rice Vinegar is made from fermented rice. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and you can find it in almost any grocery store.  
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar 
  • ¼ tablespoon salt
  • 7 oz (200g) of Crab Meat: The use of crab differentiates the California Sushi roll from other sushi rolls. Therefore, consider using fresh crab meat if possible. Crab has a life of 3-4 days when kept refrigerated and should be used at the peak of freshness.  Remember to always check your crab for an ammonia-like odor.  This is an indication that the crab has gone bad and should be disposed of.
    • If you are unable to find fresh crab meat or if your diet restricts you from eating it, then imitation crab is a fine alternative. 
    • There are many brands and styles of imitation crab such as flakes, chunks, and sticks. Crab sticks are the choice as they make a great alternative, given their shape and ease by which you can work with them in the roll. 
  • Mayonnaise: as per your diet
  • Nori Sheets: Nori is a dry seaweed sheet especially used in Japanese cuisine and readily available in most large grocery stores. The Nori will be our wrap for the sushi roll.
  • For the nori, go for the one that is jet black and slight greenish. Brownish or reddish nori may be old and will not be able to bring out the best flavor.
  • 1 cucumber – you can use Japanese cucumber, English cucumber or any other variety of high quality, fresh cucumber.
  • 2 avocados: Ripe avocados are slightly soft but not “mushy”. Pro-tip: Avocados with darker color will most likely be ripe.
  • 2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds: the seeds will add yet another layer of richness to the roll and are easily found in most grocery stores.

Tools & Equipment 

Bamboo Rolling Mat

A mat woven from bamboo and cotton string specifically used to roll & shape sushi and other soft food is a must have in any roll preparation. Here is a great Bamboo Mat to consider if you are lacking this specialized kitchen tool.

Cutting Board

You will need a cutting board to perfectly cut the sushi roll into slices. Not using a cutting board during slicing can ruin the texture of the roll, destroy your countertops, and leave you with a soggy, flattened roll – which no one likes! The below set of three bamboo cutting boards are a cost effective way to up your sushi game and protect your knives and countertops at the same time!

Once you arrange these ingredients and tools, here is how you go about preparing the California Sushi roll.  

Preparing the Rice

Put rice in a bowl and add water to it. Wash and rinse several times until the rinse water is no longer cloudy. Soak for at least 2 minutes, drain well and place in a covered pan or cooker.   

Next, add a cup of water and boil the rice, before lowering the heat to a simmer and allowing the rice to cook for 10-15 minutes until the top becomes dry. Turn off the heat and let stand for at least 5 minutes to absorb any remaining water.  

                                                        Courtesy: Pexels  

Vinegar Mixture

Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and ¼ tablespoon salt with the rice vinegar and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Combine the mixture with the rice and allow the rice to cool.   

The goal in this step is to mix the rice vinegar with every grain of rice without mashing the grains. To make it easier, use a medium sized mixing bowl and fold the rice & rice vinegar together with a spoon or rubber spatula.  

Covering the Nori Sheet with Rice

Mix the crabmeat with mayonnaise and set it aside in a bowl. 

Cover your bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap. Cut the nori sheet (dry seaweed) in half and place the half sheet of nori on the bamboo mat. 

Once you place the half sheet of nori on the mat, spread the rice evenly on the nori. Pro Tip: Submerge your hands in water before you handle the rice otherwise the rice will stick to your fingers. Also, when you are spreading the rice, gently do so using just the tips of your fingers. If you press too hard, you will mash the rice and your sushi will become gummy.  

Next, sprinkle some sesame seeds on the rice and flip the nori sheet upside down so the rice is on the bottom. This is a common trick to make inside-out rolls.  

Filling & Rolling

Once you have flipped the sheet, line up the crab meat along the bottom edge (closest to you) and follow that up with cucumber and avocado. Don’t add too much filling or you won’t be able to roll it perfectly. Here is how it should look:  

Now, grab the edge of the mat with your thumbs and roll the nori sheet over the fillings until it touches the other side of the nori sheet. The side with rice on it should come on top and the fillings inside. I recommend you wet your hands, position the roll again and give it another squeeze to give it a nice shape.  

The final step is to simply slice it in pieces.  

Take a very sharp knife and cut the roll in 6-8 even pieces. Make sure to wipe the knife after each cut so that the rice doesn’t stick to it. Make sure you do not press down on the roll while cutting. Just use a stable cutting board and gently let the (sharp) knife do the work.  

That’s it! You now have a perfectly rolled California Sushi roll ready to enjoy. 

How to Serve the California Sushi Roll  

The California Sushi roll has a delightful texture and with it being an inside/out roll – consider serving it on a dark plate. 

Add a dab of Wasabi, fresh ginger, and soy sauce to the serving plate and replicate your favorite sushi restaurant right at home!  

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions.  

Q: What is the difference between California Sushi roll and Boston roll Sushi?  

A: The California Sushi roll and Boston Sushi are very similar. However, the difference lies in the protein used in the filling. The California Sushi roll uses crab meat whereas the Boston roll sushi uses cooked shrimp.  

Q: Is the California Sushi roll worth trying?  

A: Though not a traditional sushi roll, the California Sushi roll incorporates both traditional sushi influences and modern kitchen preparation. Specifically, it is a great choice for people who prefer not to eat the raw fish found in so many sushi dishes. 

Should you decide to venture away from the more traditional, raw fish – style sushi you’ll find the California roll to be unique in that it combines the traditional richness of sushi perfectly combined with flavors popular with today’s modern palettes!

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