RECIPE: “NOT Real Sushi” – California Roll

Our family’s “Not Real” Sushi – California Roll, served on traditional Japanese platter

Every family has their dining traditions and at my in-laws there are no exceptions; whether its New Year’s, Easter or birthday dinners, we always have this dish on the menu. My mother in law has mastered the art in making this “iconic” Americanized sushi, which my father in law lovingly refers to as “Not Real Sushi”. Finally as promised, I’m posting her recipe and pictures (with her demonstrating the process)…Nothing tastes better than Mom’s food, prepared with love and care…Enjoy (OO).

Ingredients: (Yields 6 cups)  3 “rice cooker” cups of uncooked premium sushi or short grain rice, water, 1/3 cup (measuring cup) Japanese rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3 Tablespoon of sugar, Imitation crab meat (200 g, purchased from Japanese food store), 3-4 avocado (ripen, sliced), Japanese “kewpie” mayonnaise, 1/2 to 1 cup (approximately) toasted white sesame (prepackaged can be purchased at Asian food store), six to eight full sheets of seaweed (nori), juice of 1/2 lemon, pickled ginger (for serving only, store-bought), soy sauce and wasabi (optional) for serving.

Equipment:  Bamboo mat, plastic cling wrap


To prepare sushi rice:

– Put rice in large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl (I preferred to use the Japanese rice washing bowl with side and bottom drainers), pour water over until fully covers rice.  Discard the water immediately to get rid of the particles, repeat 1 to 2 times.

– Using your fingers wash and clean the rice in circular motion; pour clean water over the rice and quickly discard again.  Please repeat the process for 4 to 5 times until water becomes almost clear (translucent).

– Let the rice soak in clean water for at least 30 minutes; drain and strain the rice then transfer to rice cooker bowl.

– Add cold water to just under the 3 cup line; if your rice cooker has “sushi rice” options, please follow and add water just below the 3 cup line “sushi rice”, start cooking.

– While rice is cooking, prepare the sushi vinegar: combine rice vinegar, sugar, salt into a saucepan.  Over medium heat, bring it to a boil until sugar is completely dissolved; remove from heat, set aside and let it cool.

– When rice is cooked, using a moistened (with little water to ensure rice doesn’t stick) large bowl (sushi wooden bowl if you have one), transfer the rice and spread it out evenly so the rice will cool faster. While rice is still hot, pour approximately 85% of the sushi vinegar mixture over the rice; leave some behind as you will need this when rolling the sushi.

– Using a wet rice paddle (at 45 degrees angle) and apply the “slicing and flipping” motion, separate the grains (do not mix), gently flip the rice in between “slices”; repeat the process until the rice is cooled.

– Cover the cooled rice with a damp cloth until you are ready to roll.

Ready to Roll the Sushi:

– Prepare the avocado; peel and cut into 1/4″ slices, a squeeze of lemon juice will keep the avocados from turning brown.

– Prepare the seaweed (nori) – Cut off 1/3 and use 2/3 to make the rolls (save the one thirds for later use).

– Prepare the bamboo mat, covered with plastic wrap and the sushi vinegar (to ensure the rice will not stick to the wrap).

– Lay one seaweed sheet, shiny side down, on the mat.  Wet your fingers in the sushi vinegar and spread approximately 1 cup or less (measuring cup) of rice thinly and evenly onto the seaweed sheet.

– Flip the seaweed sheet over so the rice is facing down; then line the edge of the seaweed sheet at the bottom of the bamboo mat.


– In the centre of the seaweed sheet, first place the avocado, then lightly squeeze one layer of Japanese mayonnaise over (don’t be too heavy-handed) and finally add the crab meat on top


From bottom: rice, nori, avocado, mayonnaise, crab meat

– Grab the edge of the mat closest to you; keeping the fingers in place with your fingers; start to roll it into a tight cylinder;



– Using the mat to shape the cylinder. Lift the edge of the mat slightly and roll it forward, apply pressure gently.

roll forward and push gently
Almost there….
Another roll completed! How many more to go?
Ready to cover the roll with white sesame

– Repeat until all the rice is used up.

IMG_0561– Cover the bottom of a rectangular container or tray with the white sesame, glide the sushi roll over until it’s even covered.

– Cover the completed rolls with a clean damp cloth until you are ready to serve.

– When you are ready to serve: Use a sharp knife and cut each roll first in half, then cut each half into 3 pieces.  After a few cuts, remember to clean the knife with a damp cloth (to keep the rice from sticking and maintain a clean finish).


– We always use the cut seaweed sheets for smaller roll sushi, mostly tuna or cucumber rolls.

– Some of the ingredients we estimated the quantity (for example the sesame seeds), please adjust accordingly.

– Fresh crab meat can be used; my mother in law usually purchases the imitation crab meat, and other ingredients from Fujiya (912 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC).

– Other recipes include cucumber; sometimes we use flying fish roe (tobiko) instead of toasted white sesame seeds, or both (OO).

ready to “roll”

RECIPE: Coquilles St-Jacques (Gratinéed Scallops)

IMG_1022 - Version 2

This past weekend my friends hosted a “French Feast New Year’s Party”; I was invited to join my friend Jo in her kitchen as her “sous chef’ to prepare dinner for 18 people!  She found the recipe for this wonderful Jacques Pepin’s classic French recipe from Saveur online; we prepared this dish as an appetizer, with help from others for plating and serving. It was excellent team work; for a while it felt as if we were working in a restaurant kitchen…enjoy (OO).

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

8 oz button mushrooms (minced), 3 small shallots (minced), 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 Tablespoons parsley (minced), 1 Tablespoon minced tarragon (plus 6 whole leaves to garnish), kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; 3/4 cup dry vermouth, 1 bay leaf, 6 large sea scallops, 2 Tablespoons flour, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2/3 cup grated Gruyere, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice


To prepare the duxelles:

Heat mushrooms, 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, and 2/3 of the shallots in a saucepan over medium heat, cook until mixture forms a loose paste, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Stir parsley and minced tarragon into mixture, season with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

Bring remaining shallots, vermouth, bay leaf, salt and 3/4 cup of water to boil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops and lightly poach until barely tender, less than 2 minutes.  Remove scallops from cooking liquid and set aside.

– To prepare the sauce:

Continue to boil cooking liquid until reduced to 1/2 cup (it takes approximately 10 minutes), strain the liquid.

Heat remaining butter in a different sauce pan over medium heat; add flour, cook until smooth (approximately 2 minutes).

Whisk in reduced cooking liquid and cream; cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Add cheese, juice, salt and pepper.

– To assemble the dish:

Heat broiler to high, place rack at the top.

Dividing the mushroom mixture among the dishes.

Place 6 shallow gratin dishes on baking sheet, divide mushroom mixture evenly.

Place scallop over mushroom mixture; divide sauce over scallops.

Broil until browned on top, about 3 minutes, garnish each with tarragon leaf.


– We used 2 scallops per serving, we were unable to find sea scallops and luckily found these wonderful frozen ones from Hokkaido (**They are sashimi grade, purchased from Golden Summit Frozen Seafood in Richmond, BC).

– The mushroom duxelle can be prepared one day ahead (we did and store in tightly sealed container).

– I’ve broken down the steps according to how we prepared the dish; we have used a lighter cream instead of heavy cream.

Here’s the original link:

If you follow the link, you’ll be able to find 150 classic recipes from around the world, featured in Saveur’s special 150th issue.

RECIPE: Prawn Cocktail with Endive

Prawn Cocktail with Endive; I used a store bought sauce and adjust the flavours accordingly.

This recipe is simple and easy to prepare, it makes a great appetizer for a sit down dinner or buffet. Measurements for sauce are approximate; as always, adjust according to your taste and dietary needs.


For the prawns: 2 pounds of tiger prawns (deveined), 1 Large lemon (sliced – 1/4 inch), black peppercorns (10 cracked), 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 3 Tablespoons (approximately) kosher salt, small bunch of dill, 2 small endive (for serving)

For the sauce: 1 cup of store-bought cocktail sauce, 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots, 1 to 2 Tablespoon horseradish (bottled), 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or more to taste), 1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, freshly ground pepper and kosher salt (if necessary) to taste 

Preparation for Prawns:

– In large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat.

– Tie the peppercorns, bay leaves, pepper flakes, and herbs in a piece of cheesecloth to make a bundle. Add the bundle to the pot, adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the lemon slices and salt (the broth should be as salty as seawater).

– Add the prawns and cook, stirring occasionally, until just opaque throughout and colour turns red, approximately 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of the prawns. To check for doneness, cut through the shell and into the middle of one shrimp with a paring knife.

– Have an “ice” bath ready; when prawns are cooked, pour the prawns into strainer and “shock” in ice bath immediately to stop the cooking process.  Strained and transfer to large baking sheet, spread them in a single layer and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate and let cool completely, approximately 1 hour.

– Peel the prawns and leave the tails intact. Using a paring knife, make a shallow slit down the middle of the back of each prawn to expose the black vein. Lift out each vein with the tip of the knife and wipe it off with a paper towel.

To prepare the cocktail sauce: In a bowl whisk all ingredients together; cover and chill in the refrigerator.

To serve: Arrange the prawns on the bed of endive in serving platter; for individual servings, use cocktail glasses and serve the sauce on the side.  Be creative!


Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.

When cooking prawns, keep an eye on them at all times as they can be overcooked easily.  An easy way to tell when it’s done the shell colour turns red and prawn meat turns opaque.

If you wish to make the cocktail sauce from scratch, use a combination of ketchup and chili sauce.  For original recipes, go to