A close up of a plate of California Sushi Rolls

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The California roll; my favorite! I’m not a brave sushi goer (no raw fish for me!), but I sure do love my California rolls. I crave these topped with spicy mayo and dipped in a wasabi/soy sauce concoction… mmm. It’s also pretty inexpensive to make sushi at home. With the right tools and this tutorial, you’ll be a pro in no time.

It’s been an exciting week in my kitchen. First selyodka, now sushi and a bunch of other things in between, just wait until next week! ;). I’m just wild like ‘dat. I’m posting this because I’ve received plenty of requests for a sushi tutorial over the years and I think I make a mighty good Cali roll. My husband agrees 🙂

Ingredients for Perfect Sushi Rice:

2 cups Japanese short or medium grain rice (such as Homai or California Calrose)
2 to 2 1/2 cups cold water*
5 Tbsp Sushi Vinegar
(Make your own sushi vinegar by combining the following 3 ingredients and dissolving them together over low heat on the stove, then let the mixture cool):
4 Tbsp Rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt (I used sea salt)

Sushi Rice & California Rolls Recipe

*Use 2 cups water for the stovetop rice cooking method and 2 1/2 cups water for the rice maker method.

I called my favorite sushi place and they told me they use Homai (California Calrose) rice to make their sushi. So I trotted over to the store and purchased the same one. It was perfect!

Ingredients for California Roll:

1/2 lb Imitation crab meat (p.s. the “log” shaped crab meat is the easiest to work with)
1 Avocado, ripe but still firm
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into long julienne strips
Toasted Nori Seaweed
Toasted sesame seeds
A sushi rolling mat + Plastic wrap to cover the mat. If you don’t have a sushi mat, try using parchment paper instead.

Sushi Rice & California Rolls Recipe-6

Dips/Sauces for California roll:

Soy sauce (regular or low sodium)
Wasabi paste or wasabi powder
For spicy mayo: Mayonnaise (~1 Tbsp) and Sriracha hot chili sauce (~1 tsp)  or to taste

Sushi Rice & California Rolls Recipe-5

How to Cook Perfect Sushi Rice (Rice Maker or Stove-top):

1. Wash the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well. If you have a rice maker (way easier!), follow rice maker instructions (add 2 cups rice and 2 1/2 cups water) (no salt required!) and cook on the white rice setting then skip to step #4

sushi-rice-and-california-rolls
2. For the stove top method: Put drained rice in a heavy sauce-pan and add 2 cups cold water. Cover tightly and set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium and let cook covered until all the water is absorbed (7-8 min). Do not remove the cover to check, but listen for the bubbling to stop.

3. Once you hear a faint hissing sound, reduce the heat to very low and cook another 6 min. Remove from the heat and let stand 15 min covered. This is the basic white rice eaten with Japanese meals.

4. Transfer the hot rice to a large bowl and break it up to get rid of all the hot clumps.

Sushi Rice & California Rolls Recipe-9

5. Let the rice cool down a little. It should still be very warm when you stir in your sushi vinegar.

Sushi Rice & California Rolls Recipe-11

Assembling your California Rolls:

1. Wrap your in plastic wrap before using it (this makes it re-useable and you don’t even have to wash it!).

Sushi Rice & California Rolls Recipe-7

2. Fold the pieces of nori in half to split them.

Sushi Rice & California Rolls Recipe-13

3. Toast your sesame seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden. Slice up your veggies and crab meat.

sushi-rice-and-california-rolls-1

4. Spread a generous handful of sushi rice onto the 1/2 sheet of nori. Use your WET FINGER TIPS (keep your hands wet to prevent sticking) to spread the rice evenly over the entire surface of the nori.

sushi-rice-and-california-rolls-2

5. Flip the rice covered piece of nori over so the rice is facing down (this way, your rice will be on the outside). Place your fillings across the center of your nori lengthwise (don’t overfill or the roll won’t seal).

sushi-rice-and-california-rolls-3

6. Start rolling using your matt to firmly keep the roll in place. Apply some pressure to make a tight roll. If its not tight enough, it will be difficult to cut. Once the roll is complete, sprinkle the roll with toasted sesame seeds while it is still on the mat so you can turn it easily.

sushi-rice-and-california-rolls-4

7. Run your sharp knife through a damp paper towel before slicing so the rice won’t stick as much. Cut the roll in half, then line the two halves up and slice into even 1-inch rings. I have found that it slices easier when you slice quickly.

sushi-rice-and-california-rolls-5

I learned my sushi making skills after reading Mom’s culinary textbook from her college days, a little bit of trial-and-error and picked up some tips (like the wet knife and the plastic wrapped-sushi matt) from Ree Drummond.

sushi-rice-and-california-rolls-4

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Sushi Rice and California Rolls Recipe

4.97 from 56 votes
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
A tutorial on how to make the perfect sushi rice and a recipe for legitimate California rolls 🙂
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 9 rolls

Ingredients for Perfect Sushi Rice:

  • 2 cups Japanese short or medium grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water
  • 5 Tbsp Sushi Vinegar

Make your own sushi vinegar by combining the following 3 ingredients and dissolving them together over low heat on the stove, then let the mixture cool:

Ingredients for California Rolls:

  • 1/2 lb Imitation crab meat, p.s. the "log" shaped crab meat is the easiest to work with
  • 1 Avocado, ripe but still firm
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into long julienne strips
  • Toasted Nori Seaweed
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • A sushi rolling mat, $2 at Cost Plus World Market If you don't have a sushi mat, try using parchment paper instead.

For Dips/Sauces:

  • Soy sauce, regular or low sodium
  • Wasabi paste or wasabi powder
  • For spicy mayo: Mayonnaise, ~1 Tbsp and Sriracha hot chili sauce (~1 tsp) or to taste

Instructions

How to Cook Perfect Sushi Rice (Rice Maker and Stove-top versions): P.S. do not add salt while cooking rice.

  • Wash the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well. If you have a rice maker (way easier!), follow rice maker instructions and cook on the white rice setting then skip to step #4
  • Put drained rice in a heavy sauce-pan and add 2 cups cold water. Cover tightly and set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium and let cook covered until all the water is absorbed (7-8 min). Do not remove the cover to check, but listen for the bubbling to stop.
  • Once you hear a faint hissing sound, reduce the heat to very low and cook another 6 min. Remove from the heat and let stand 15 min covered. This is the basic white rice eaten with japanese meals.
  • Transfer the hot rice to a large bowl and break it up to get rid of all the hot clumps.
  • Let the rice cool down until it is just warm, then stir in your cooled sushi vinegar

Assembling your California Rolls:

  • Wrap your sushi matt in plastic wrap before using it (this makes it re-useable and you don't even have to wash it!).
  • Fold the pieces of nori in half to split them.
  • Toast your sesame seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden. Slice up your veggies.
  • Spread a generous handful of sushi rice onto the 1/2 sheet of nori. Use your WET FINGER TIPS (keep your hands wet to prevent sticking) to spread the rice evenly over the entire surface of the nori.
  • Flip the rice covered piece of nori over so the rice is facing down (this way, your rice will be on the outside). Place your fillings across the center of your rice in the middle of the sheet (don't overfill or the roll won't seal).
  • Start rolling away from you using your matt to firmly keep the roll in place. Apply some pressure to make a tight roll. If its not tight enough, it will be difficult to cut. Once the roll is complete, sprinkle the roll with toasted sesame seeds while it is still on the mat so you can turn it easily.
  • Run your sharp knife through a damp paper towel before slicing so the rice won't stick as much. Cut the roll in half, then line the two halves up and slice even 1-inch rings. I have found that it slices easier when you slice quickly.

Nutrition Per Serving

224.84kcal Calories42.49g Carbs4.87g Protein3.56g Fat0.56g Saturated Fat2.77mg Cholesterol665.99mg Sodium180.09mg Potassium2.39g Fiber3.97g Sugar50.11IU Vitamin A2.7mg Vitamin C18.94mg Calcium0.5mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Sushi Rice and California Rolls Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
224.84
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
3.56
g
5
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.56
g
4
%
Cholesterol
 
2.77
mg
1
%
Sodium
 
665.99
mg
29
%
Potassium
 
180.09
mg
5
%
Carbohydrates
 
42.49
g
14
%
Fiber
 
2.39
g
10
%
Sugar
 
3.97
g
4
%
Protein
 
4.87
g
10
%
Vitamin A
 
50.11
IU
1
%
Vitamin C
 
2.7
mg
3
%
Calcium
 
18.94
mg
2
%
Iron
 
0.5
mg
3
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: california rolls, Sushi rice
Skill Level: Medium
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 224.84

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Comments

  • Linda MacInnis
    September 20, 2023

    Can I cook the rice the night before so that it’s not as much work

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 20, 2023

      Hi Linda, its best fresh, if you store the rice in the fridge before rolling, it will get hard.

      Reply

      • Bob Bob Bob the Bob the 5th
        November 17, 2023

        I agree! U need to put in the things so that it doesn’t get too hard! LOL

        Reply

  • Kathleen Estrada
    August 14, 2023

    Made this tonight for hubby and me. We loved it. Followed the recipe as provided. Easy to pull together and refreshing to enjoy on a hot Las Vegas night.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 15, 2023

      I’m glad that you both enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Marica
    February 6, 2023

    Hi Natasha:
    I love California rolls but dont like purchasing made rolls as they contain wheat. I am gluten intolerant. So decided to try making and turned to your easy recipe. A couple of adjustments, my rice is inside the seaweed wrap, and i used real crab meat. I was a bit uncertain about flipping the seaweed with the rice so kept it inside. Overall the rolls were so tasty… made the sushi vinegar, and sooo fresh. I love to cook and this was another food that i now can make with confidence thanks to your easy to follow instructions.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 6, 2023

      Hi Marica! That’s wonderful. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! 🙂

      Reply

  • Cecil Andreas Joshua Templeton
    June 19, 2022

    Thank you for this very thorough and delicious recipe. I spent a year in Japan and was fortunate to try several different kinds of sushi. Your recipe brings me back to my time as a teacher and missionary making and eating authentic Japanese food! I see all your recipes and presentation on Facebook each week. Your attitude about food and life is inspiring and much needed in a world of uncertainty and stress. I want to encourage you to keep up the great work you’re doing. It showed that you truly love what you do!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 19, 2022

      Hello Cecil, thank you so much for your inspiring words and good feedback. It helps motivate us to do share more recipes that you can all try. We appreciate it!

      Reply

  • Aileen Dornbier
    January 4, 2022

    Hi, I don’t have cucumber on hand for this recipe. Could I use carrot instead? If so, should I blanch it first? Your recipes are the absolute best!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 4, 2022

      Hi Aileen, I’ve seen carrots used before. Avocado also works! You can chop it into fine-match sticks for the carrot and add that way! I hope you love this recipe!

      Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 4, 2022

      Hi Aileen, I’ve seen carrots used before. Avocado also works! You can chop it into fine-match sticks for the carrot and add that way! I hope you love this recipe!

      Reply

  • April Guttierrez
    June 8, 2021

    I was wondering if there are different flavors from different soy sauce brands. I made it (I need practice, it was messy) and I ate it (with a spoon) but it didn’t taste quite right. It could be proportions, but I thought that the soy sauce didn’t taste like a sushi restaurant. The ingredients seemed correct, just the soy sauce. What do you think?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 8, 2021

      Hi April, I have a photo of the soy sauce we used in the recipe post. We used Kikkoman natural flavors soy sauce. I know sodium vs. sodium-free or other brands may cause a difference in taste.

      Reply

    • Sabrina
      January 17, 2022

      We’re going to try using dark soy sauce. It has a more powerful flavor than regular soy.

      Reply

  • Federica
    February 4, 2021

    What can I use instead of seaweed? I really don’t like that!
    Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 4, 2021

      Hi Federica, It won’t be the same without it, but here’s what I found online “Probably the most common substitute for seaweed is edible rice paper. You can make reasonable sushi rolls with it. … More realistically, try some pressed (nigiri) sushi. It has more meat, less rice, and no seaweed.”

      Reply

  • Valentina Figueroa Vilchez
    January 8, 2021

    Hello I am doing this recipe right now but it doesn’t say how much sesame seeds I have to put, can someone please tell me what is a good amount for it. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      January 10, 2021

      Hi Valentina, it’s really up to preference. 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp of sesame seeds would be plenty.

      Reply

  • Brandon
    December 21, 2020

    Hi Natasha, I just wanted to say I loved this recipie! Also, is it you who replies to all of these comments personally?

    Reply

  • Alejandra
    December 8, 2020

    This will be perfect for the cookbook I am making to give my mom for chistmas

    Reply

  • Danny Zingarelli
    November 6, 2020

    Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Cheers

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 7, 2020

      Hi Danny, I recommend checking out our blog resource page HERE.

      Reply

  • Marina
    July 31, 2020

    Great sushi! Wonderful recipe! Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 31, 2020

      You’re welcome! I’m happy you enjoyed that!

      Reply

  • Gabriela
    June 1, 2020

    How many seaweed sheets do we use?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      June 1, 2020

      Hi Gariela, half a sheet per roll and this recipe makes 9 rolls.

      Reply

    • Sasha Kubat
      August 6, 2020

      Hello, I was wondering if rice vineger could be subbed with another type of vineger, like white or apple cider?

      Reply

      • Natashas Kitchen
        August 7, 2020

        Hi Sasha, that may alter the taste but without testing, I cannot recommend without trying it myself. In the ingredients, there are instructions to make your own sushi vinegar using rice vinegar. Look towards the top of the blog post where the ingredients are listed. That is what I do to make my own.

        Reply

      • Catherine
        August 13, 2020

        I made mine with apple cider vinegar, and it was delicious!

        I ended up using 18ml of brown coconut sugar, 42ml of apple cider vinegar, 5g of sea salt, and 20ml of water

        Reply

        • Natashas Kitchen
          August 13, 2020

          I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe Catherine!

          Reply

  • Brett
    April 17, 2020

    I put the rolling mat inside a 1 gallon ziplock bag.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 17, 2020

      Thank you for sharing that with me, Brett!

      Reply

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