What’s in this Sushi? The Mystical California Roll

Keith Riegert, Langone Managing Editor

Even the most squeamish, raw-fish-averse among us can usually palate a California roll or two during those rushed mid-class breaks. The essence of Americanized Sushi, the California roll consists of rice (on the outside), seaweed, avocado, cucumber, tobiko (flying fish roe) or sesame seeds, and imitation crabmeat. What is imitation crabmeat, you ask? It’s much more complicated than you think.


Melanogrammus aeglefinus, or the common crab wannabe

This oddly flavorless, shapeless seafood filling is a remarkably popular product in Japan. Called kamaboko, the substance is made from white fish meat (usually haddock or Pollack) that is pulverized to a fine white paste and mixed with a myriad of random ingredients, like MSG and egg whites, to give it that “authentic” crustacean texture. Add a layer of food coloring and voila, you’ve got some authentic, grade-A California krab.

This was adapted from the book “The Manual”, Ulysses Press, by Keith Riegert and Sam Kaplan

Image copyright: Shutterstock.com ©Hein Nouwens

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