Plated Zesty california rolls featured in this Sushi Rice Recipe.  Featuring vibrant red and orange pepper and creamy avocado.

Sushi Rice Recipe & Zesty California Roll

Hey food adventurers! This Sushi Rice Recipe is just a quick adventure overseas to Japan a populous island country! Firstly, what is sushi doing on a kids food blog it’s raw fish, right? Nope, sushi is actually the method for preparing soured rice, but more later in origins. Secondly, sushi is a light refreshing meal to enjoy when cooking with kids. Although, it is perfect for the summer when your trying to cook without turning on the oven! Lastly, this sushi rice recipe is perfect for kid friendly sushi rolls like our Zesty California Roll or any creative flavors kids can create.

Sushi is generally great for teaching kids how to pair flavors, simple knife skills, and learning about this Japanese staple. Although this sushi rice recipe is more or less a blank slate for other flavors it is the backbone. Specifically sushi rice is traditionally paired with fish it reaches from vegetables, eggs, to burgers?!? Specifically, The Cow Fish in Raleigh, NC serves up burger sushi fusion, which they lovingly call burgushi! Albeit burgushi is not traditional, but shows there is no creative limits with this sushi rice recipe. Unlike, The Cow Fish burugshi we are slight more tradtional with a Zesty California Roll.

Taking her first every bite of sushi from these tasty Zesty California Rolls. And it's a hit featuring this basic sushi rice recipe.
Digging into another bite of tasty sushi featuring this simple Sushi Rice Recipe and zesty california roll!

Sushi Rice an Origin Story

Traditional sushi rice recipes have strong ties to Japan though it was likely first produced in Southeast Asia, specifically Southeast China. During the early days sushi was a method of preserving fish by fermenting it with rice and the tradition moved to Japan. Additionally, as the tradition grew in japan it became about the consumption of “soured” rice with fish. Following that tradition a method for a sushi rice recipe was developed with the rice being enhanced with vinegar, salt, and other ingredients.

Moreover sushi rice recipes evolved from the fermented fish and rice to the makizushi rolls (mah-kee-zoo-shee) and temaki cones (teh-mah-kee). Although, sushi has it’s roots in Asia it is now a beloved dish across the world and showcase flavor, texture, and artistry. Nonetheless the sushi rice maki rolls we make cooking with kids will always look rustic as compared to sushi masters, or Itame (ee-tah-mah-eh), who’ve practiced for years.

Frequently asked Sushi Rice Recipe Questions

Sushi Rolling with the Kids

Whenever cooking with kids engagement throughout the process is key and this sushi rice recipe and Zesty California roll fits that bill! Moreover there is not a lot of on heat cooking here, so everything is very cook with kids friendly. In this case these zesty california rolls get a overall kid effort score of 2 out of 5! Lastly, enough talking about cooking let’s get those kids in the kitchen and cook sushi rice!

Assisting with spreading the sushi rice on the nori to start assembling the sushi rolls.
Plated Zesty california rolls featured in this Sushi Rice Recipe. Featuring vibrant red and orange pepper and creamy avocado.

Attention Parents Cooking with Kids!

Parents should use their own discretion in which steps their kids perform and should always prioritize kitchen safety!
Rinsing the sushi rice by stirring the rice in the water with wood spoon or washed hands (Kid Effort 1 out of 5)
Mixing the sushi rice gently with the vinegar mixture being careful not to smoosh the rice (Kid Effort 2 out of 5)
Adding the sushi rice to the nori creating the base for the sushi filling (Kid Effort 1 out of 5)
Arranging the sushi toppings and fillings in the center of the rice (Kid Effort 1 out of 5)
Rolling the sushi with the bamboo sushi mat. Younger children will likely need assistance (Kid Effort 3 out 5)
Utilizing a kid safe knife to slice the sushi into bite size pieces. (Kid Effort 2 out 5)
Plated Zesty california rolls featured in this Sushi Rice Recipe. Featuring vibrant red and orange pepper and creamy avocado.

Sushi Rice Recipe & Zesty California Roll

Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Japanese


  • 1 Bamboo Sushi Mat
  • 1 Mixing Bowl (Non-Metallic)
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Plastic Wrap (Can cover the sushi mat to make rolling easier)


Sushi Rice Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Japanese short-grain rice
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar or Sushi Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt

Zesty California Roll

  • 1 package Nori
  • 1 each Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Thinly
  • 1 each Orange Bell Pepper, Sliced Thinly
  • 1 each Ripe Avocado
  • 1 package Imitation Crab Sticks

Served on the Side

  • Soy Sauce for Dipping


Sushi Rice Recipe Instructions

  • Rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Drain the rice and place it in a large saucepan.
  • Let rice soak for 30 minutes and then drain
  • Add 2 cups of water and bring the rice to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the vinegar mixture. In a small saucepan, heat the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt over medium heat, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Once the rice is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit for 10-15 minutes with the lid on.
  • Transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Use a wooden spoon or rice paddle to gently mix the rice until it is well-coated with the vinegar mixture.
  • Let the rice cool to room temperature before using it to make sushi.

Zesty California Roll Assembly

  • Place the nori, textured side down, on the sushi mat
  • Moisten your hands with water to prevent the rice from sticking to them.
  • Take a handful of sushi rice (about the size of a small lemon) and evenly spread it over the nori sheet, leaving approximately one-third (1/3) of the nori sheet uncovered at the top.
  • Gently press the rice down with your fingers to create an even layer that covers two-thirds (2/3) of the nori sheet's surface.
  • Leave a small border of uncovered nori at the bottom edge to help with sealing the roll.
  • Add the peppers, avocado, & crab to the center of the rice based. Or your desired fillings, such as fish, vegetables, or exotic burgushi, in a line across the center of the rice.
  • Begin rolling the sushi by lifting the edge of the bamboo mat closest to you, tucking it over the fillings. Use your fingers to hold the fillings in place while rolling.
  • Continue rolling, applying gentle pressure to shape the roll. Be sure to use the bamboo mat to help keep the roll tight.
  • Once the roll is complete, give it a final gentle press to secure its shape.
  • Use a sharp knife to slice the Maki roll into bite-sized pieces, wiping the knife with a damp cloth between each cut for cleaner slices.
Keyword Cooking with Kids, Creative Recipes for Kids, Family-Friendly Recipe, Fun and Easy Family Recipe, Healthy Recipe, Kid-Friendly Recipe, Mealtime Fun for Kids

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