Sunday, January 08, 2006

Faux California Rolls

avocado
dried seaweed sheet
cooked white rice
soy sauce

Once upon a time when I did not like sushi (now I cannot imagine how that was ever possible but back then even the thought of eating uncooked fish made me ... not so happy), my saving grace was California rolls during those times when I had no choice but to join colleagues, clients, or friends at a Japanese restaurant. I still like California rolls now even though I would not dare order them at any genuine sushi place (please, no real sushi place has dragon or whatever rolls on the menu and if you want the really truly fresh fish, don't order California rolls or you will get the gaijin treatment).

To make California rolls at home, you can cook and shell fresh crab, make sushi rice by mixing vinegar into the hot rice while fanning the rice, get a maki sushi mat, and ... who can bother with all this?

You do need a ripe avocado, rice, and nori (dried seaweed sheets). Because I don't like the smell or texture of fake crab sticks, I skip the crab entirely since between the soy sauce and the avocado, the crab is not the primary flavor anyway. I also prefer the Korean version of the dried seaweed sheets (called "Gim," with a hard "g") which are made with a little sesame oil and salt. Korean grocery stores carry them in 8x11 envelopes. Cut them in half with clean, dry kitchen scissors then cut the halves into half and then the quarters into halves, and you will get seaweed slices large enough for single bite rolls. (Save the little package of dessicant that comes in the original package of dried seaweed and you can save the cut-up pieces in tupperware for later consumption. Store tupperware container in freezer.) Gim is roasted dried seaweed, so it's a little crumbly. If you want to try to make the long roll, using a maki sushi mat, and cut into circular maki, use Japanese Nori (but that would be basically reverting back to close to the original method and kind of defeats the ease of this "recipe").

Cut the avocado in quarters. Peel and slice each avocado quarter into bite size slices. Take a piece of cut dried seaweed sheet, dab into soy sauce, add a forkful of cooked white rice, a slice of avocado, roll up like a mini taco, and eat. It's a bit messy but fast and easy and will definitely satisfy your California Roll craving-- even without the crab.

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