Making Homemade California Rolls

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I’m really excited to do this post today! I know it’s not really what this blog is about, but  making sushi at home seems to becoming more common nowadays, since take-out sushi, while delicious, is quite expensive!

I first tried sushi in summer of 2012 when my mom and I were in Texas for an anime convention. We were heading home and had about a four hour wait before our train got there, and we found a sushi restaurant to have lunch at (that trip was my graduation present). I had a dragon roll and ate all but one piece, but that was because I let my mom have that piece to try.

I had never had sushi before them, but we really liked it! Once every six or so months, we would get sushi from Pink Swirls, a frozen yogurt shop that had a sushi bar. The sushi there was really good too, but SO EXPENSIVE.

In December, my mom came up with an idea for a family Christmas present of a sushi kit. It was simply put together with some items we bought at our local Asian market, but it was a hit and we’ve made sushi about once a month since then. It’s a lot of fun to do, and if you can get the sushi rice right, you can make practically any kind of sushi.

Now, to make homemade sushi, you’ll need these items (picture for reference):

Items 1 Items 2

  • Sushi rice (as far as I know, there is no way to make regular white rice work as sushi rice. Someone may have come up with a way, but, I haven’t found it.)
  • Dried nori/seaweed (the outside of your roll!)
  • Rice vinegar (this will give the rice it’s taste!)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Bamboo mats (for rolling.)
  • Rice paddles (you’ll use these to put the rice on the seaweed.)
  • A large sauce pan
  • A small sauce pan
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Imitation crab meat (or real crab meet, if you want to use that.)
  • Hot mayo (recipe below.)

OK, to start, measure out however much rice you need. We usually use about three cups of rice and that’s enough to make around 10 – 12 rolls (with the nori we get from Wal-Mart [shown in the photo]). Rinse that in a bowl or a colander that has very, very tiny holes (I suggest just using a bowl, honestly). You’ll need to rinse it two or three times, or until the water runs clear when you drain the rice. Once that’s ready, put it in the large sauce pan with three cups of water (one cup water to one cup rice). Turn the heat onto medium and let that boil. Once it boils, place the lid on it and let it cook for fifteen minutes.

Wash the rice Water and rice in pot

While the rice is going, you can take the small amount of time it takes to make the vinegar. This will give the sushi rice the sweet taste it needs. We make ours according to this website: In fact, this is how I made the rice today.

Rice vinegar Step 1 Step 2 Step 2-1 Step 3 Step 3-1 Step 4

For the vinegar, take a 1/4 cup of the rice vinegar and pour it in the small sauce pan. Next, add two table spoons of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Let that heat up until the sugar/salt dissolves. Once it does, take the pan off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. (Note: I’m not sure you need to stir it to help the sugar/salt dissolve, but I did anyway. Your choice.)

So, once your timer lets you know the fifteen minutes for the rice is up, turn off the heat and let it continue to sit there for another fifteen minutes. This will finish the cooking and once that fifteen minutes is up, you can take the rice and spread it on a large pan. Pour the vinegar mixture evenly over the rice, mix it in the rice paddles, and let it rest.

While the rice is resting, you want to cut up the cucumber, avocado, and crab meat. These are the insides of your sushi and need to be ready for when you want to roll. Keep them as thick or thin as you want, but if you’re using the smaller pieces of seaweed, you might want them to thinner, otherwise it might cause your sushi roll to bust open when cutting. If you want to make the hot mayo, you’ll also want to do that while the rice is resting. I usually make it with three table spoons of mayo to one table spoon of hot sauce (we use the Frank’s Red Hot). This is NOT as hot as you think it might be. It adds another flavor, but will not burn your mouth like wasabi.

What you need to make rolls

When you’re ready, get out the bamboo mat and prepare to roll! Lay the piece of seaweed on top of the mat (shiny side up or down doesn’t really matter, but I make mine with shiny side down). Spread some rice on it and stay close to edges, but not too close. You don’t want the rice to squish out the ends. If you want to, you can add some of the hot mayo right to rice (you’ll still want to dip it in the rest of the mayo). Next, add as much or as little of the other ingredients as you want. I try to make sure mine as one piece of everything.

Seaweed Rice on seaweed Hot mayonaise added All food items on rice

Now you get to roll. Try to keep everything inside by rolling it up tight. It’s pretty hard to do, but you might be better at it than I am. Keeping the insides all at one end is the best, and keeping them close to the edge works the best as well, this way they would come out while rolling. Once it’s rolled up, it’s time to cut!

Rolling the roll Ready to cut!

You’ll just need to the place the sushi roll on a cutting board, start at one end and move inwards, like if you were cutting a cucumber or carrot. Take it slow though! If you move to fast, you might cause the seaweed to break and all your tasty pieces inside to fall out! The thickness of the pieces is up to you, but I try to keep them skinny so we can get more pieces out of a roll.

Example of cut Fully cut

Once it’s cut, move the pieces to another plate or board while you make another roll, or just eat it there. Continue the process until you’ve used all the rice you can. If you have a little bit leftover, you can form it into a triangle or circle shaped onigiri (rice ball), or just eat it as is.

And, voila~! You have homemade California rolls! You don’t have to use everything that my family did. You could very well replace some of the inside ingredients if you want something else inside, or you just don’t like some of the ingredients we use.


I hope this was helpful, and that you enjoy your homemade sushi.

(If you want to know what I did the ends and broken rolls, that’ll be in another post, and I call it the Sushi Sundae).


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