This Spicy Cali Sushi Bowl is incredible and - dare I say - even better than restaurant rolls! And so dang easy to prepare while the rice cooks. You gotta make this!
When I saw the viral video for crispy rice waffles, I HAD to try it. So I made some sushi rice in the instant pot, plopped some on the waffle maker, and let it do its thing. Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle... and we've got ourselves a rice waffle. Neat-o!
Then I mixed up a little spicy surimi, chopped a little cucumber, diced some avocado, and piled that on the rice waffle. We drizzled on some wasabi soy sauce and thought, Gosh, this is incredible!
But, man. I gotta admit: making the rice waffle was kind of a pain. First getting out the waffle maker, setting it up, waiting for it to heat... that takes time. Once the rice was waffling (??? 😂), it took a couple cycles to crisp up. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be to remove the waffle from the grid, either. Then there's the whole business of wiping down the waffle maker and putting it away. I mean, I did it, it was fun-ish. But Ease of Use... that's a no from me, dawg.
Somewhere in that process I thought, "Do I want to do this again or skip the waffle maker and put the rice directly in the bowl next time?" So we skipped it. And that... THAT was the way to go!
We have quite the cast of ingredients for this delicious recipe. Here are some notes on the main actors.
- sushi rice - This is a sticky, short grain rice specificially used for Japanese dishes. You can try other types of rice in this recipe, but the sushi rice will give you the best-tasting, most authentic result.
- rice vinegar - Made with fermented rice, this vinegar imparts a slightly sweeter, less acidic taste than standard white vinegar (which is made from fermented grain). It's available in the majority of grocery stores and lends itself perfectly to the flavors of this recipe. It's also in our Hot and Sour Soup!
- imitation crab - Imitation crab is made from Pollack, a low-mercury fish. I find it in a refrigerator section near the seafood counter in my grocery store. It comes in flakes or sticks. I like to use the flakes for this recipe, because they are easier to stir and break up a bit.
- avocado - Perfectly ripe avocados give slightly when squeezed. Avocados that are hard will be tasteless and difficult to cut. If the skin feels too loose, they are likely too brown inside - yuck!
- English cucumber - American slicing cucumbers will work, but English cucumbers are ideal for this recipe. The skins are thinner, and the seeds are smaller.
See recipe card for quantities.
It's easy to swap out ingredients to make it more to your liking. I've got a couple suggestions:
- Fish - This recipe could easily be turned into a spicy tuna bowl. Simply use an equal quantity of sushi-grade tuna instead of imitation crab.
- Vegan/vegetarian - The imitation crab can be replaced with a extra-firm tofu to make this vegan/vegetarian.
These Spicy Cali Sushi Bowls have been made many, many times at our house since the rice waffle experiment. These amazing kitchen tools definitely contribute to the recipe's success.
When cooking rice, I usually use the stove-top method. A nice non-stick saucepan with a tight-fitting lid is great for that, and I'm a big fan of OXO non-stick cookware! On the other hand, I started using my Instant Pot for rice, and I really love that method, too. Instructions for both are below. Your call.
My 8" strainer is a go-to for rinsing and draining rice. I use it for so many other things, too, like rinsing vegetables and sifting dry ingredients like flour, spices, & powdered sugar.
This adjustable measuring cup is an item that I grab for all ingredients that aren't liquid and aren't dry... like mayonnaise, ketchup, peanut butter, honey, you get the idea. Push the measured ingredients out, scrape the top in one swipe. It's a God send.
And, of course, a nylon cutting board and my favorite knife. Nylon cutting boards are great, because they are easy to clean and dishwasher safe. The knife that I reach for time and again is the Mercer Culinary Santoku Chefs Knife. It's light weight, has a soft handle, and the blade stays sharp with a few swipes through this sharpener before each use. And it is incredibly reasonably priced. I love it!
This dish should be consumed immediately. If you have leftovers, make sure you refrigerate them right away and eat them within 4 days.
Both rice and seafood have a shorter refrigeration lifespan than most other foods. The maximum time to refrigerate cooked fish is 3-4 days; the max time for cooked rice is 3-5 days.
Livestrong has an informative article on how to cool, store, and reheat cooked rice.
The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has a great download on the food safety of proteins.
These ingredients do not freeze well.
Eat right away. Refrigerate leftovers right away. Eat those within a couple days.
The Spicy Cali Sushi Bowl is a meal in itself. However, if you'd like to introduce a starter course to the meal, I suggest a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup.
You're also going to need a drink! The flavors in our favorite Ginger Lime Mocktail pair so well with the Spicy Cali Sushi Bowl. Definitely mix a couple of these for yourself: one to enjoy while preparing your sushi bowl and one to drink while you feast!
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 8 ounces imitation crab flaked (or diced sticks)
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoon sriracha or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon lime juice
- ½ avocado sliced or diced
- ¼ english cucumber ¼" diced
- ½ teaspoon sesame seeds toasted
- 3 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce omit for soy free
- ⅛ teaspoon wasabi paste more or less, to taste
- Add water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to saucepan or instant pot. Stir to dissolve salt and sugar.
- Rinse rice by placing in mixing bowl and cover with water; stir. Empty rice into a strainer. Transfer rice back to bowl and repeat up to 4-5 times until water runs clear. Drain rice and add to saucepan or instant pot.INSTANT POT: Set Instant Pot to pressure cook for five minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then pressure release manually.STOVE TOP: Turn burner on medium-high and bring to boil. Cover tightly and lower heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 16 minutes.While rice cooks, prepare other ingredients.When rice is done, remove cooked rice from saucepan or Instant Pot and spread on sheet pan to cool.
- Combine mayonnaise, lime juice, and sriracha in mixing bowl. Add imitation crab flakes and stir to break up a little. If using imitation crab sticks, cut with kitchen shears and stir to break up.
- Cut avocado in half. Remove pit. Dice or slice half as desired.Store the other half by spraying cut side with cooking spray. Place face down on saucer, cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator. Eat later when you mix up another batch of sushi bowls or spread on toast.
- Dice cucumber.
- Mix soy sauce with wasabi paste in small bowl. Or serve soy sauce and wasabi separately for others to mix in dipping bowls as desired.
- Place rice in four bowls. Add spicy surimi and toppings. Drizzle with wasabi-soy sauce mixture.Serve and enjoy immediately. See storage section above for leftovers.
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After cooking or preparing food, it is important to quickly cool it to a safe temperature of 41 degress or below. This helps to prevent food poisoning from rapid bacteria growth at room temperature.
You can read more about food safety guidelines at USDA.gov. Stay safe and healthy, friends!