Food + Wine

‘California Roll’ Salad over Sticky Rice Cakes

I grew up eating sushi.  My parents began eating it back in the late eighties/early nineties and therefore my brother and I were eating raw fish way before it was considered normal.  All my friends thought we were so weird.  But the local sushi restaurant was where we spent family birthdays, report card celebrations, and many after-a-movie family night out. I don’t remember trying sushi for the first time, I just remember always liking it.  But I’m sure the first thing we tried was the California Roll.  And even though I, for many years, have considered uni, salmon and yellowtail my all-time favorite sushi items, I still enjoy a California Roll. I love the combination of textures and flavors, the crunch from the cucumber, paired with the creamy avocado and sweet crab is just very good.  I know it’s not authentic, and the ‘real’ sushi lover in me wants to dislike it, but it’s actually very tasty.

These days I don’t get to go out to eat sushi as much as I would like to, and even though I do know how to roll my own (I used to work in a Sushi Restaurant and they taught me how on slow days), I decided to get a little creative with my sushi craving the other day and create something that most people can make at any time, using things they can always count on finding at their grocery store.  And let me tell you, this tastes exactly like a California roll!

California Rolls use imitation crab meat, and normally, under other circumstances, I would say to use fresh, but I kinda wanted this to be as authentic as possible…even though authentic actually means fake in this situationAnd I always like to use brown rice so that’s what I used here.  If you have sushi rice and would rather use that, then by all means, go for it!  But I like that I’m getting extra fiber by using the brown.  So because I was using brown rice, which is less glutenous than sushi rice, I had to cheat it a bit to make it ‘sticky’.  I just processed it a bit with an immersion blender and it worked perfectly.

I hope ya’ll like this one! (My husband went a little nuts over it)

*California Roll Salad over Sticky Rice Cakes
(serves 4 for lunch)

You don’t have to tell me, I know…horrible photo.  Sorry!

*For the Rice
-In a bowl, place 10 ounces or 2 cups of still hot, cooked brown rice* and cover with 1/4 cup of seasoned rice wine vinegar.  Stir to coat all the rice and cover with plastic wrap (or if you cooked yours from scratch, then just keep the rice in the pot and cover with the lid).  Allow this to sit until the rice has cooled and has soaked up all the vinegar.

*For the Salad
(you will probably end up having some salad leftover)
-In a mixing bowl, add 2 tsp wasabi powder and whisk in 2 TB + 1 tsp each of soy sauce (I always use low sodium) and seasoned rice wine vinegar.
-Add 16 ounces of crab meat (I used 2 8oz packages of the ‘flake style’ imitation crab meat), 1 standard cucumber, seeded and diced (or half a large, English cucumber), and 2 hass avocados, diced.  Carefully toss to coat everything in the dressing, but be sure to not break down the avocado.  Set aside while you cook your rice cakes.

-The rice should now be cool and there should be no liquid left in the bowl.
-Take an immersion blender to the bowl and blend the rice, breaking down as much of it as you can to develop the gluten and convince the brown rice that it’s sushi rice.  It should now be sticky.
-Heat some oil in a skillet on medium high heat and when it’s hot, use a medium ice cream scoop to measure out 4 portions and place in the hot pan.  Flatten each scoop of rice with a spatula and cook on the first side for about a minute or two, or until it’s golden brown.  Carefully flip and sear the other side until brown.  They may break up a bit when you flip, so just squish them back together if they do.
-Transfer to your plate and top with as much salad as you’d like.

(*I used frozen, pre-cooked ‘Minute Steamers’ brown rice that I happened to have on hand, but to cook 2 cups of brown rice, simply cook 1 cup of dry brown rice in 2 cups of boiling water until very tender)

(This entire recipe, feeding 4 people, only set me back $4…that’s $1 per person! So by always using these TIPS, I was able to satisfy my sushi craving for next to nothing.  Awesome.)

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1 Comment

  • Reply Terrianne, Call me Ree February 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Hi Abbey,

    My husband loves sushi! I called him the other day to tell him I was sampling sushi at stations they had set up all around the grocery store and he got really jealous (but I brought some home for him.) He'd just love it if I made some for him. <3

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