On days when I want a light dinner, I turn to California Rolls. The typical California Roll is what I would call “inside out” with the rice on the outside; however, that involves using plastic wrap around the sushi rolling mat, and that’s just too much work.
My version is a cheater style, and it requires just seven ingredients and 10 minutes if the rice is ready to go:
Japanese rice (short-grain sticky rice)
English (or Japanese or Persian) cucumbers
Nori aka Seaweed
I add about 1/4 cup vinegar to 2 cups of cooked rice, then spread just enough rice to cover the nori and I pile on flaked imitation crab, sliced cucumber and avocado. I like using the “leg style” imitation crabmeat like these (though I usually get the frozen ones from the local Japanese supermarket that are similar to these), but I could only find the “flake style”. The flake style works just fine though. The trick is to make sure to keep the filling in the section where you’ll start rolling, like a burrito.
I got this bamboo rolling mat from my mom about twenty years ago and it’s still going strong. I’ve tried all sorts of rolling mats, and this one is hands down my favorite. Maybe it’s because it’s so old, but it’s very pliable and molds the nori-rice-surimi-veggie combo into smooth rolls. There’s something comforting about the roll-squeeze-roll rhythm used to render the slim, shiny black tube ready for slicing:
I use a serrated knife and try as I might, I’ve never been able to slice them evenly. A long time ago, I used to work with a woman who had a knack for precision, and I would often ask her to cut up birthday cakes or pizzas just so I could marvel at her ability to produce perfectly equal portions akin to a machine – she loved doing it. We all have our talents.
Anyway, once sliced, all you need is a little soy sauce, a touch of wasabi (if you so desire), and I boil up a bit of miso soup and you have an easy, relatively healthy, frugal and yummy dinner in no time!