Vegan Crab California Rolls – Sushi



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Yesterday, I posted my Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Salad (seen just above) – fully intending to make these California rolls with it and – today – I did!  California rolls are no mystery & this is just a suggested way to use the crab salad.

If your local market makes sushi or carries fresh sushi – they usually sell extra wasabi & ginger there, too.  That is where I get mine.  Powdered wasabi (that you add water to) is also good but just buying it ready to go is cheap & easy so – why the fuck not?

I buy the nori at my local Thai market because they charge under $2 for a package & Gelson’s charges closer to $5.  Same for the sushi rice.  Ethnic foods are – typically – WAY less expensive in ethnic markets than they are in the ethnic aisles of your local grocery store – so – look into that option (if saving money appeals to you).  Indian markets & Asian markets & Hispanic markets are great resources for rices & spices at drastically discounted prices.  Just FYI.

Sushi rice is shorter than most other common rices but I think you can make sushi rice with any rice.  I used the stuff you see below.

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As to the filling of a California roll – I went pretty traditional – using the vegan crab, avocado and cucumber – and I added carrots.  This is absolutely not a science so do what suits you.

Sushi Rice

2 cups rice – washed until the water runs clear

3 cups water

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1 tsp salt

1/8 – 1/4 cup sugar (I like less sugar but this is a matter of taste)

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Put the rice in the water & bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low & cover.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Wrapping the lid of the pan in a kitchen towel creates a tighter seal & cooks the rice more quickly but be careful not to set the towel on fire.  When it is done – transfer to a large bowl, fluff & allow to cool.

(Photo stolen from Google)


Heat the vinegar & stir in the sugar & salt.  Stir until the salt & sugar dissolve.  Allow to cool.

When the rice is cool – stir in the vinegar & mix it in well.  Store in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  I actually like the rice room-temp, so I leave it out before I use it – but this is just my preference.

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California Rolls 


Cooked sushi rice

Nori sheets

Vegan crab (see link above)

Avocado – sliced

Carrot – cut into long matchsticks

Cucumber – cut into long matchsticks

GARNISH – wasabi, ginger, soy sauce, black and/or white sesame seeds


I don’t use a sushi roller mat.  I just free-form it.  HERE are a bunch of videos & other technique options you might like to try.

I do it near the sink with cool water running.  Sticky rice is, indeed, sticky & will stick to everything.  The water helps rinse it off.

Put the shiny side of the nori down & pack some rice onto it.  Go light.  I went heavy & my rolls were huge (in girth) and messy to eat.  You can probably go more sparse with the rice than you guess – just leave about 1-inch clean on one end.

Layer the other ingredients in there & roll it.  Wet that clean inch with wet fingers & roll over that to close to roll.  Leave it resting on the seam as you roll any others you might be making.

Slice with a wet, sharp knife.

Garnish as you will & eat!

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Benny’s Tacos & Chicken Rotisserie in Venice, California


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


I am a Hollywood snob.  An east side snob.  Driving west of La Brea gives me the vapors.  The words “Beverly Hills” are greeted with a roll of my eyes.  I go years without seeing the ocean.  It is pretty twisted actually.  Matters are made worse by the fact that Miles’ favorite LA meal & favorite bar at which to linger – is Birds – right within walking distance of my home.  Here is Miles’ favorite meal there.


That is a half chicken, loaded baked potato & baked beans.  Birds can be pretty limited in its selection if you are a pescatarian, like me.  But they added this new flatbread with mozzarella & jalapenos & I have become mildly obsessed with it.


I love Andrew & Brooklyn, the bartenders at Birds, and so I can easily have my arm “twisted” and agree to Birds – sometimes EVERY day that Miles is here.  It has happened.

But, sometimes, when he is in town – I find occasion to venture out – sometimes even out past La Cienega.  Recently, we found ourselves in Venice.  Before I headed out there, I scoured Yelp for out best lunch options & came up with Benny’s Tacos.  It is difficult to guess what to expect from the exterior but there was parking & I am all about that.  Here is the exterior (image stolen from Benny’s site).


On the left of the image, you see their al fresco dining area.  We meant to eat out there but the tables all seemed very unstable so we moved inside.  Here is the interior.


And look at that cool tortilla heater thingy back there!  It rotates.


The greatest thing about Benny’s (for me) is their wide selection of seafood & vegetarian options.  I ordered a lobster & a fish taco – grilled not fried – and Miles got some massive chicken burrito.  We got drinks, chips & some salsa from the salsa bar & chose a table.  Benny’s also serves beer & wine!  There is a little three-seater bar in there, too!


If I lived close to Benny’s – I can promise you – Miles & would make that bar our own.

Chips & salsa were good.  Beer is served in frosted mugs.  Always a nice touch.


Then my tacos arrived.


That is the lobster taco on the left.  And let me tell you – that was the best Goddamn taco I have ever had in my life!  I don’t typically eat lobster because I feel really bad for them.  Seeing them in those tanks at the supermarket or in restaurants – claws bound & crawling all over each other waiting to die by being BOILED ALIVE – moves me to tears.  But, hypocritically, so did that lobster taco – as I washed it down with ice cold beer.  I kept photographing it in an effort to prolong the pleasure.  The fish taco was delicious, too, but that lobster fucker was a revelation!


Miles was served a burrito nearly the size of a football.


Miles pointed out that serving a burrito that size – largely filed with rice & beans (and TONS of chicken) – with additional rice & beans might be considered a rice-n-beans overkill but that is a minor complaint.  Especially for Miles – who can be very finicky about food minutia.  We both found our meals to taste fresh & clean & to be quite substantial.  I wanted to go right back up & order every other taco they offered that fit my diet but – alas – we were both stuffed.   My only complaint about Benny’s is that it is all the fuck the way in Venice – I place I have gone to more often than Venice, Italy – primarily because I have never been to Venice, Italy & that number (zero) is hard to beat.

But if you live anywhere near there – I cannot recommend highly enough that you give Benny’s a try.   They do a whole rotisserie chicken thing there, too, that we never even got into.  The menu – HERE – is far more varied than your average taco stand.  You could eat there every night for a week & never feel like you are ordering off the same menu.  And you can get likkered up, to boot!  What is stopping you?  Go there now!  And save me a seat at the bar!


Breakfast Potatoes & Coffee at It’s Tops Coffee Shop – San Francisco, California

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Old school.  Great diner.


Photo © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012


Photo © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012