The History of California Rolls
Much like the Rainbow roll from our last post, the creator of the Calfiornia roll is a mystery with sources claiming it came from Los Angeles or even Vancouver. However, there is evidence to support that the roll may come from Little Tokyo in LA where Ichiho Machita may have developed the roll. The story goes that he replaced toro, which is a premium cut of fatty tuna (sometimes available at Kizuna on weekends) with avocado during the off season and eventually experimenting until the beloved roll was born. These days, it is an absolute staple of Western sushi restaurants and is often the adventurous eaters first foray into sushi maki (rolls). Originally The California Roll incorporated king crab, but then was later substituted with the much less costly but still delicious kani kama to make the roll more accessible. Wherever it started, most are in agreement that it first came into being in the 1970s.
What Is a California Roll
The modern California roll almost always consists of the following: kani kama (imitation crab), avocado, and cucumber. It is "traditionally" prepared as makizushi - wrapped in seaweed nori and rice on the outside then cut in 8 pieces often with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. From there some restaurants may mix their kani kama with Japanese mayo and may have sliced carrot as well. It is usually dipped in soy sauce that can be made spicy with a green horseradish based "wasabi" paste and served with ginger as a side and palette cleanser. Some restaurants even add fish roe, normally tobiko (flying fish eggs) or masago (smelt eggs). California rolls usually have 255 calories, 38g of carbs, 7g of fat and 9g of protein. As such depending on your lifestyle, a California roll is a healthier way to get nutrients and energy.
California rolls are considered one of the simplest rolls to prepare and are both fun and easy to make at home! To make a California roll spread a layer of sushi rice over Nori seaweed paper and flip it. Along the length, assemble a line of kani kama mixed with a small amount of Japanese mayo or just the crab stick on its own, sliced cucumber sticks and 2 slices of avocado. Roll these up tight and press together using a makisu. Sprinkle with sesame seeds then cut in half with a sharp sushi knife. Place these two halves together making two rows next to each other. Cut in half again then cut these in half until you have 8 pieces. Plate and serve!
California rolls are so simple that sushi chefs and restaurant workers will often challenge themselves by seeing just how fast they can assemble and cut them for fun! Our head chef has a record of less than 6 seconds =D
Kizuna’s California Roll
At Kizuna, we follow the method described above. Of course, we add our own delcious house mayo to the mix and use a combination of normal sesame and neri goma (black sesame seeds) on top. They're great for kids, but don't let that fool you. Even veteran sushi lovers such as the author of this article absolutely love the simple cream and salty flavors of a well made California roll. Never get too far ahead of your foodie sensibilities and discredit this humble, delicious roll!
Gino Crededio - General Manager with a smile