California Maki Roll

California maki roll

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Just a woman who loves cooking and collecting books. Oh, I also really like chinchillas. :)


A good friend of mine is the executive chef at Roka Akor San Francisco (Roman Petry). Last year, I had the privilege to stage (or intern, at this awesome restaurant, which was just rated #18 of the best restaurants in SF and the best Japanese restaurant in SF by Zagat's! You may find it strange that a vegetarian like me would work at a sushi-steakhouse, but I had an amazing experience. Here's my version of a California Maki Roll. I've used imitation crab meat in this recipe, but feel free to use the real thing.


Sushi Rice:
1 cup sushi rice, washed & drained 10x
1 cup water
1 5-inch piece of dried kombu
a pinch of potato starch (katakuri ko)

Sushi Rice Seasoning:
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/5 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

California Maki Roll:
1 cup crab meat (imitation or not)
2 tbsp mayo
1 avocado
2-3 tbsp black or orange tobiko roe (for fish-friendly option - as in this recipe photo - I use Cavi-art black caviar)
2-3 tbsp white sesame seeds
4-6 sheets of nori, toasted seaweed sheets


Making sushi rice is an art in itself. If you're short on time, you can use an electric rice cooker, but I've found the following method works well:

  1. Rinse & drain the rice 10 times. This is a bit time-consuming, but you want to rinse the rice until you can see individual grains through the water. I've found that 10 times is a reliable number.
  2. In a large pot, place the drained rice and 1 cup of filtered water, kombu, and potato starch. Cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the temperature to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and let the rice continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. While the rice is cooking, prepare the rice seasoning. Mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt thoroughly.
  6. Once the rice is fully cooked, transfer it to a hangiri, a Japanese wooden bowl, or any container that has a decent amount of flat surface area to lay out the rice.
  7. Sprinkle the rice seasoning on the rice while cutting and folding the rice with a rice paddle. Work the rice quickly to cool and coat the rice with even seasoning.
  8. When you are done, the rice should have a glossy appearance.
  9. Cover the rice with a towel or transfer to an insulating container to keep it warm and moist.

To assemble the make rolls:

  1. Prepare the crab meat by mixing the meat with mayo.
  2. Slice the avocado into lengths about 1/3 inch wide.
  3. With a sheet of nori, glossy side down. Place approximately 75g of sushi rice on top. Using wet hands, spread the rice on to the nori sheet, leaving about 1/3 inch of nori uncovered on the bottom of the sheet. The nori sheet should be in landscape position.
  4. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and roe on top of the rice and distribute evenly with wet hands.
  5. Turn over the nori so that the rice is now on the cutting board. To prevent sticking, wipe the board with some water to keep it damp.
  6. In the center of the nori, line about 1/5 cup of crab meat and place a line of avocado on top.
  7. Roll the nori from bottom to top. Place a few kernels of rice on the strip of uncovered nori to stick the nori to itself. This part can be tricky, but with practice, it will come naturally. I've seen chefs at Roka Akor SF make maki rolls in less than one minute.
  8. With a bamboo sushi mat wrapped in plastic wrap, form the maki rolls into square cylinders.
  9. Cut the roll into 8 equal sized pieces.
  10. Place onto serving plate and enjoy immediately!


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