Sushi Story: History Behind the California Roll
The California roll: avocado, crab (or more likely “krab” imitation crab), and cucumber. It’s the one of the first choices for those venturing into the complex land of sushi, and a classic to American sushi. But where did it come from? As Gourmet Live found out, the answer is more than just California.
Yes, the ubiquitous roll got its start in California, in a restaurant in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles sometime in the 1960s. However, the inspiration behind the roll remains sushi lore. One account credits a chef turning to avocado, which wasn’t a traditional sushi ingredient in Japan, as a substitute for bluefin tuna, which wasn’t available in California except in peak season. Another story tells of a chef deliberately creating a roll for American cliental. Whatever the true inspiration, the roll, along with the inside out style of serving it with the rice on the outside, became the basis of American style sushi.
And as American food tends to do, California rolls now appear on sushi menus across the world. Check out Gourmet Live’s full history as well as the surprising history behind krab — the stuff has been around far longer than California rolls.
• Read more: Deconstructing the California Roll at Gourmet Live
Related: What Exactly is Sushi?
(Images: AMERICAN IMAGES INC./GETTY IMAGES via Gourmet Live)