California Maki Recipe

Make your fave Japanese rolls at home!
A serving of wasabi and a row of california maki on a rectangular sushi plate. Beside the plate is a pair of chopsticks and a dipping bowl of soy sauce.
  • Updated as of April 5, 2023 by Jasper Castro.

What is California Maki?

California Maki is possibly one of the most popular non-traditional fusion recipes, showing up on dinner plates as early as the 70s. It’s known for its inside-out style, brightly colored layer of tobiko or flying fish roe, and combination of fruit, kani, and cucumber inside. Its early iterations used buttery avocado but the local Filipino version typically use fresh, sweet, ripe mangoes that act as a counterbalance to the kani’s fish flavor and amplifies the slightly sour note in the vinegared sushi rice.

Plenty of Japanese restaurants, from fastfood chains, convenience stores, to high end sushi bars serve their own version of this popular roll. Making it at home though has its own perks: it can be a fun bonding activity plus you can make as many as you want! Unli-California maki, anyone?

Table of Contents

• How to Serve California Maki

• How to Make California Maki

• Tips to Make the Best California Maki

• California Maki Storage Tips

• How to Make California Maki Recipe Video

• California Maki Recipe

How to Serve California Maki

California maki is best served freshly prepared at room temperature with a pair of chopsticks, Japanese soy sauce, and wasabi. You can add more creamy umami flavor with a small squidge of Japanese mayo on top. Add a pinch of cayenne for some heat.

How to Make California Maki

To make iconic, delicious California maki, it all starts with making delicious sushi rice. First, wash the rice and then use a rice cooker to prepare it. While the rice is cooking, combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Once the water in the rice has evaporated, place all your rice in a large bowl. Pour in your vinegar solution and mix with a wooden spoon. As you’re mixing the rice, direct a fan towards your bowl. Once cool, set it aside and cover with a damp cloth.


It’s time to assemble your sushi. Lay half of a nori sheet at the bottom part of a sushi mat. With lightly wet fingers, spread a small amount of rice on your nori sheet. Sprinkle the roe evenly on top. Flip everything, roe side on the sushi mat. At the bottom part of the nori, arrange the mango strip, kani, and cucumber. Then, roll and compress the sushi tightly with the help of the sushi mat. Peel off the mat then cut your roll with a sharp knife.

Tips to Make the Best California Maki

1 Choose the right rice

Shortgrained sushi rice has the perfect amount of gluten that helps it stick together to get that iconic roll. Some restaurants use other types of rice such as sticky black rice that apart from its interesting color adds a note of vanilla and nuttiness. Long grained fluffy rice such as basmati won’t work for this recipe.

2 Roll your california maki tightly!

If you’re having a hard time getting those perfect rolls and it keeps falling apart, it’s possible there’s too much space inside. To get rid of that space, imagine tightening a roll of paper by pulling on one side while pulling the rolled up part to the other direction. Use this same technique using the sushi mat.

3 Sharp knives make sharp sushi

Another possible reason your sushi is falling apart is that your knife isn’t sharp enough. With a dull knife, you’ll find yourself sawing laboriously, agitating the roll to get through, and making it fall apart. A sharp knife can glide swiftly through the nori sheet without a sawing motion, giving you that crisp cut. Here are some tips on sharpening your knives.


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How to Store California Maki

1 Eat your California maki fresh or on the same day.

California maki uses freshly cut fruit and the roe is a fish product, making it prone to easily spoiling. Rice that ages and gets old also takes on a tougher texture. It’s best to eat your California maki on the day or a few hours from when it was made.

2 You can store California maki in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

If storing, it’s best to keep California maki a cool refrigerator, or if constructing a bento box, it’s best to keep it away from hot items. You can keep it fresh up to 24 hours by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap, roll uncut. You can slice it right before serving.

Watch: How to Make California Maki Video

California Maki Recipe

California Maki Recipe

Mira Angeles
Make your fave Japanese rolls at home!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 6


California Maki Ingredients

  • short-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water cold
  • 4 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 2 pieces ripe mango sliced into strips
  • 260 Grams kani (crab sticks) cut into two
  • 1 piece Cucumber hot house seeds removed with a spoon and julienned
  • 1 Pack Nori (dried seaweed) unseasoned
  • Masago (orange fish roe)
  • Sushi Mat


  • Make the sushi rice: Wash the rice and prepare to cook in a rice cooker. Add water then cook until water has evaporated.
  • Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt. 
  • Once the rice is cooked, place it in a small bowl. 
  • Pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and mix using a wooden spoon. While mixing the rice, it is important to use a fan to cool the rice. This makes the rice shiny and it also prevents it from being mushy. Set aside and cover with a damp cloth. 
  • Prepare the roll: Lay the sushi mat on the table. Cut the nori in half and lay the nori on the bottom part of the mat. Lightly wet your fingers and add a small amount of rice. Spread the rice all throughout the nori. Sprinkle the masago and spread it evenly. Flip the rice and masago mixture.
  • With the rice and masago facing down already, arrange the mango strips, kani and cucumber at the bottom of the nori. 
  • To roll, tuck your thumbs under the bamboo mat and use them to lift the mat and rice over the filling, while using your other fingers to hold it in place. Use the mat to continue rolling until you reach the end of the nori.
  • Press the mat so it the roll sticks together. Slowly peel away the mat. Use a sharp knife to cut the sushi roll.
Keyword Asian, California Maki, California Maki Recipe, Japanese food, japanese food recipe, sushi
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