Every time I go to a Japanese restaurant or sushi bar, I crinkle my nose when I see California rolls on the menu. If someone actually orders a California Roll, I just have to *sigh* I don’t know the history of how the California roll came into existence, but I’d be willing to bet my own bamboo mat that it wasn’t a sushi chef in Japan that created the original pseudo-sushi that is the ancestor to things like Rainbow Rolls, Las Vegas Rolls and Godzilla forbid, cream cheese stuffed Philadelphia Rolls.
But even with my mild aversion to the idea of a California roll, I have to admit that I love all the components: crabmeat, avocadoes, cucumbers. So every once in a while, I allow the California roll to serve as the inspiration for a super easy throw-together meal for a hectic weekday that would make Rachael Ray nervous about her job – a California roll in a bowl, properly referred to as the California Böll here at the Delicious Life.
Steamed white rice brown rice with quinoa is the base. Two cups of hot cooked rice get tossed with a tablespoon each of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce (more if you’re a saltaholic like me), and a teaspoon each of sugar, sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds. Fresh hot rice tastes the best, but re-heated leftover rice works well since it will have things added to it anyway. Pile the rice into a bowl, and then add the ingredients that make a California roll: avocado, cucumber, chopped crab meat, and garnished with toasted nori. Yes this is a weekday meal and I had to use “krab” meat because who the hell is going to the fish market on a Thursday to buy live crabs, steam them, and pull their meat for a stupid rice bowl?
Variations of the Böll make it onto the Delicious dinner table fairly often for weekday meals. When I am good, and can plan in advance, I make the big Sunday dinner something that includes a large pot of rice, with the intention of having leftover rice for Sushi Roll Bölls all week.
With the same rice base as the California Böll, a substitution of broiled unagi (freshwater eel) instead of crabmeat along with the avocado and cucumber and drizzled with the sweet unagi kabayaki sauce becomes an Unagi Roll Bowl. Served with fresh maguro (tuna), chopped scallions, and a drizzle of spicy sriracha and sesame oil it's a Spicy Tuna Roll Bowl. Add all manner of colorful raw fish and you have a Rainbow Roll Bowl.
I put my foot down, however, at cream cheese. Never ever, not even for a pseudo sushi bowl, should one add cream cheese.
How to Make a California Roll Bowl
Cook a half-and-half combination of Asian or California short grain brown rice in your trusty little rice cooker.
For every 2 cups of cooked rice, gently stir/mix in:
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Pile the rice into a bowl and top with:
- chopped avocado
- julienned cucumber
- shredded krab (do not dare use real crab! no one wastes real crab in a California roll)
- julienned toasted nori
If you're FANCY, garnish with masago or tobiko (the crunchy orange flying fish roe). I also like to throw a little ball of wasabi in there for fun. Because I'm fun like that.