A California Roll

If you think sushi is hard to make, think again: Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make a California roll that anyone can make, even if you’ve never rolled sushi before.

What’s in a California Roll?

Most of the ingredients for California rolls are easy to find, but here are a few things that you might need to go to a Japanese or Asian market for.

Imitation crabsticks: Imitation crabsticks are white with a pink tint on the outside and are made out of fish. Look for them in the refrigerated aisle, usually near the tofu or miso. If you want to use real crab, use shredded crab meat, and you can use it as-is or stir in a bit of mayonnaise for creaminess if you like.

Sushi rice: Look for a short-grain white rice, usually labeled sushi rice. This kind of rice cooks up stickier than long-grain or basmati rice, so don’t be tempted to substitute. For an extra boost of flavor, cook the rice with a piece of kombu (dried kelp) if you would like.

Nori: These are sheets of dried seaweed. Look for a dark-colored nori that is tightly grained — and the thicker, the better.

Bamboo mat: An inexpensive bamboo sushi rolling mat makes for easier sushi rolling. Can’t find a mat? Fold a thick kitchen towel in half, then place a sheet of plastic wrap on top and use this to roll instead.

The rest of the ingredients are easy find: sesame seeds (get toasted if you can), ripe buttery avocado, cucumber, rice vinegar (don’t get seasoned rice vinegar), soy sauce, and wasabi and pickled ginger for serving.

Making Sushi Rice

The only cooking that needs to be done for California rolls is cooking the rice. Rinse away the extra surface starch, and cook either on the stovetop or in your rice cooker. While it is cooking, make the rice seasoning by heating up some rice vinegar with salt and sugar. This version is a fairly mild one, so feel free to play around with the vinegar and sugar proportions the second time around. To help cool the rice down, fan it with a sheet of paper as you fold in the seasoning.

Rolling California Rolls

Now comes the fun part: rolling! Make sure all the ingredients are prepped and ready to go/ Cut cucumber and avocado into pencil-thin strips, and unwrap the crabsticks. Tear the seaweed sheets in half, too — a full sheet will make a sushi roll that’s too thick. Keep a bowl of water handy — damp hands keep the rice from sticking to them. Here is how to roll:

Top the nori with rice and sesame seeds. Place an even layer of rice over a nori sheet, about 2/3 cup. Press it gently in with damp fingers. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds.

Flip and press. Next, flip the whole thing over. Remember, the rice goes on the outside. Then, to get the rice to stick to the nori and not to the mat: fold the mat in half and press down gently to compact the rice a bit.

Fill with crab, avocado, and cucumber. Place the crabsticks and cucumber across the middle of the nori. Top with the avocado.

Roll up tight. Use the mat to roll the sushi up until the top and bottom meet. Press gently to compact and shape the roll until it’s nice and round.

Cut into 6 pieces. After all the sushi is rolled up, cut each one into 6 pieces. Use the sharpest knife you have, or use a serrated knife, which is great for cutting through the seaweed. Flip the pieces cut-side up to show off your beautiful rolling skills.