Recipe Vol. 25 No. 08

Katie Chin’s California Rolls (Makizushi)

This California roll is one of the last recipes my mother taught me.


“This California roll is one of the last recipes my mother, Leeann Chin, taught me,” shared Chef Katie Chin. The recipe is included in “Katie Chin’s Global Family Cookbook: Internationally Inspired Recipes Your Friends and Family Will Love” (Tuttle Publishing).

When asked about what kind of rice to use for preparing sushi, Chin advised, “You want rice pretty sticky but not gummy. The rounder the grain of rice the stickier. Jasmine rice is slightly rounder than sushi rice or calrose rice. Soak rice for about 20 min to allow water to penetrate interior of grain to give it a fluffy texture. Also for all white rices, not just sushi, wash rice, swirl around 5-6 tmes until water runs clear. Otherwise rice absorbs the starch released in water.”

California Rolls (Makizushi)

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Sushi Rice

1 cup (200 g) sushi or short grain rice

1 cup (250 ml) water

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 sheets nori

1/3 cup (40 g) black and white toasted sesame seeds

1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into matchsticks

1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced into ¼ inch (6-mm) thick pieces

4 crabsticks, torn into pieces

Pickled ginger, for serving

Wasabi, for serving

Soy sauce, for serving

To Make the Sushi Rice

Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Let soak for 20 minutes. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off the cloudy water, and repeat 2-3 times or until water clears.

Place the rice and 1 cup (250 ml) of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, or bring the mixture to a simmer in a saucepan. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Cover a bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap. Cut the nori sheets in half crosswise. Lay 1 sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the plastic covered mat. Wet your fingers with water and spread about 1/2 cup (125 g) of the rice evenly on the nori. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds.

Turn the sheet of nori over so that the rice is down. Place 1/8 of the cucumber, avocado and crab sticks in the center of the sheet. Grab the edge of the mat closest to you, keeping the fillings in place with your fingers, and roll it into a tight cylinder, using the mat to shape the cylinder. Repeat until all rolls are completed. Slice each roll into six pieces using a wet serrated knife. Serve with ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

Chef’s notes:

You can use a rice cooker to make the rice, but allow the rice to soak for 20 minutes before you start cooking. This releases the starches in the rice.

Keep a bowl of water nearby to frequently wet hands so rice does not stick to them.

Squeezing some lemon juice on the avocado after it has been cut will prevent it from browning.

Put the shiny side of seaweed down, so the dull side is on top. Rice affixes better on the dull side.

It is important to be firm when rolling it up the ingredients, but don’t squeeze too hard or or everything will come oozing out of the sides.

For a splurge, substitute fresh lump crabmeat for the crabsticks.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “Katie Chin’s Global Family Cookbook: Internationally Inspired Recipes Your Friends and Family Will Love!” (Tuttle Publishing)

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An engaging speaker and writer, Melanie Young hosts the weekly national radio shows, The Connected Table Live, featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits and hospitality (a Feedspot Top 10 Food & Drink Podcasts for 2021), and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for and about women (both on iHeart and more than 30 other podcast platforms). Young has contributed articles on wine, spirits, food, and culinary travel to Wine Enthusiast, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine4Food and Jewish Week. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Wine Media Guild, and Women of the Vine & Spirits. Young’s former marketing and events agency, M Young Communications, worked with global wine, food organizations, publishing companies and nonprofits. She had an integral role in the creation, launch and management of The James Beard Foundation Awards, New York Restaurant Week, and Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund (2001) which raised funds to provide for the families of restaurant workers killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Instagram @theconnectedtable

2 comments on “Katie Chin’s California Rolls (Makizushi)

  1. Pingback: Donnafugata Estates in Sicily – Santé Magazine

  2. Pingback: Leeann Chin’s story: from Sean Connery to Mid-West Riches – Santé Magazine

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