Food-Filled Fridays

Food-Filled Fridays: California Rolls, Sesame Chicken, and Fried Rice

Welcome to the first installment of Food-Filled Fridays!!!  I am super excited today to share with you what I was able to enjoy last night at our Girls’ Night!!

For a little background here, Girls’ Night has become a fun little tradition involving three families and three sets of sisters. :)  Sarah and Emily Day, Beth (Bull) and Jen Mrva, and my sister Mandy and I are all great friends, so recently, we have been planning some Girls’ Night events that include playing games, making food, lots of laughing, and just spending time together.  Last night we had another fun-filled evening, and we were blessed enough to have Jen teach us how to make sushi!!!!!  Whoohoo!!  For those of you who don’t like sushi (neither did Mandy or Beth), we also made sesame chicken and fried rice. :)  So, don’t write me off yet, read on, and enjoy with me!!

First of all, I want to give credit to the two sources we had on-hand.  I can’t say we really referenced this first source (a book) much, but I’m sure that Jen did while she was learning: Sushi by Lulu Grimes.

Our second source is as follows and includes the recipe for the sesame chicken, which was so authentic and much tastier than something you would get at a local Chinese buffet: Flawless Sesame Chicken (Restaurant Style).

The first steps to making sushi involve making your sushi rice.


(photo credit:

Although you might not have realized, sushi rice is actually a little bit of a different consistency than normal rice.  It cooks a lot stickier, which is important for the manipulation process as well as for holding your roll together.  You technically can use normal rice, and according to Jen, the best way to make your rice stickier is cook it with extra water, so that it almost becomes mushy.  If you cook it and realize it’s not sticky enough, don’t worry. :)  Just add water to the cooked rice and it will manipulate more easily.

Next, you need to select the items you will be including in you California roll.  The typical California roll includes super-thinly sliced carrots, cucumbers, crab (normally imitation because fresh crab is very expensive), and avocado.  However, this is your roll so include whatever you want!!  Emily didn’t like crab, so she cut up some fried chicken in tiny, tiny bits and wrapped that for a taste of meat, but personally, I enjoy smoked salmon, crab, raw tuna, eel, caviar, and many other additions. (If you like all those as well, then you should definitely experiment with rolls other than the California roll.)

crab and insides crab

Photos: As you can see, we left the crab meat to be much thicker slices than the cucumbers and vegetables being cut up.  A chunk of tasty meat is much better than a mouthful of carrots

Now comes the fun part! 🙂

The outside layer of sushi is actually seaweed.  Now don’t get grossed out, because it adds a quite-wonderful seafood taste without being overpowering.  In order to begin this process, let’s look at the two non-food supplies we’re going to need.

A roll of sushi is exactly that—a roll. So, in order to create that shape, we not only need an outer layer that will hold everything together (the seaweed) but we need something smooth which we can use to shape our rolls correctly so we don’t end up with a strange-looking “roll” that is any shape but that. Therefore, we use a sushi mat.

We did have one sushi mat last night, but to substitute because we had multiple cooks and only one mat, we used flexible, bamboo placemats.  On top of that, we cut a square piece of clear-wrap and set on that our sheet of seaweed.  (NOTE:  When setting down your piece of seaweed, be sure to keep the rough side face-up and the visible lines vertical.

seaweed If when looking at the photo to the left, you find that it contradicts what I just wrote about keeping the lines vertical, good eye!!…. and bad photography on my part. This is actually a side view of Jen’s seaweed, and she was working on her sushi at a 90-degree angle from me.

On top of your seaweed, you’ll want to spread your rice.  Until this point, you will want to keep the rice covered and hot.  To use, fill a good-sized bowl with rice, sprinkle with some water to help the manipulation factor, and begin covering the seaweed with it.  The key to a good coverage is to allow for just a hint of the color of the seaweed to show through without any open spots.  Cover the complete seaweed piece except for about a half-inch at the top and the bottom of the seaweed sheet for rolling.  Because, as I mentioned, sushi rice is sticky, you’ll need to wet your hands in some water multiple times to avoid all of the rice getting stuck to your hands and not to the seaweed.

spreading rice partially spread rice

Although neither of these pictures show a completely covered piece of seaweed, they do offer an idea of how this process is to take place.

Let me just say this about the next step of our sushi-making process.  In our discussion and distraction because of good conversation and creepy music from The Village, Jen messed up a step.  When you’re rolling your sushi, you want the goods to end up in the center of the roll – not on the outside.  In order to do that, you need to put your selection of chopped foods on top of the rice on the side of the seaweed closest to you.  Note: we did that the opposite way, and although they were tasty, they most-certainly didn’t result in the tightest or best-looking rolls.

After adding your “insides”, wet the edges of your seaweed (the part not covered in rice) with a tiny bit of water to help it become sticky.  Then, fold over the edge of the seaweed closest to you onto the rice (separating the seaweed from the clear-wrap so the wrap does not become part of your sushi roll) and begin to tightly roll the seaweed, rice, and “insides” up into a tight roll.  You will want to cover the insides quickly in one turn of the roll, so that they stay clumped together in the center of the roll instead of spread throughout (or in our case, on the outside.

stuffing and rollig rolled

Once the roll is finished, cover the roll in the clear-wrap as pictured above.  Then, roll up the mat around the roll to help shape your sushi into a perfect cylinder.

rolling and smoothing

Unwrap your California roll, remove the clear-wrap, and slice your roll into thick slices with a wet, serrated knife.  Now you are ready to enjoy them!  A great way to enjoy California rolls and all sushi is to dip your sliced rolls into soy sauce or wasabi.  Wasabi is a dry powder mix made of horseradish and avocado that, when mixed with water, created a quite spicy paste.  This paste is traditionally mixed with soy sauce to taste and makes a wonderful, salty/spicy dipping sauce.

 cut rollswasabi and soy sauce


rolls and celery rolls upclose

Okay.  For those of you who don’t like sushi, who have now lost all of your lunch, or who are merely scrolling down here to get some pictures of our making the most-amazing sesame rice ever, here we go:

Beth was in charge of making the sesame chicken, and I hereby give her a hearty salute.  The process took a long time in an average-sized frying pan, but I would assume a large wok-style pan would have helped in that regard.

raw chicken frying chicken

Because I have included the recipe (Flawless Sesame Chicken (Restaurant Style)) I won’t go through the whole process on how to make this simply glorious meal.  It was so wonderful as was the fried rice (Unfortunately, I don’t this recipe, but let me know if you want it, and I’ll get it), and the strawberry/blueberry/nectarine/banana smoothie made for dessert.

sesame chicken fried rice

Mmmhmm!!  It was such wonderful food, and I hope that you will enjoy making it for yourself sometime soon!!

Bon Appetit!

If you have suggestions for Food-Filled Friday recipes, discussions, or how-to’s, please feel free to comment here or email me at

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