RECIPES:
May 30, 2022

California Roll Sushi Stack

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
All of your favorite elements of the classic California roll turned into a stacked appetizer!

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This sushi-inspired appetizer is made with kani, imitation crab meat salad paired with diced avocado, and cucumber with crispy wontons for scooping. To make this California roll stack, simply pile the ingredients into a circular biscuit cutter or measuring cup to shape it. The goal is layering the ingredients so they are presented as a stack on a plate. This can also be served deconstructed as a rice bowl!  

California Roll Sushi Stack 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Kani – While the word “kani” means crab in Japanese, in this instance it refers to imitation crabmeat sometimes referred to as “krab”. Shellfish is not the main ingredient for Kani. The sticks are made from white fish such as pollock which are ground into a paste and mixed with starch and flavoring to mimic crabmeat making it more affordable than the real thing. 
  • Tobiko – Tobiko, or flying fish roe, is optional in this recipe but it adds a bright orange color, salty flavor and unique texture to the kani salad. It looks similar to ikura (salmon roe) but is much smaller in size. 
  • Avocado – When shopping for avocados for this recipe, look for ones that are ripe but on the firmer side. This will help them to keep their shape rather than turning to mush when stacking the ingredients inside the measuring cup.
  • Cucumber – I recommend using English cucumber or Persian cucumbers in this recipe. Both have fewer seeds than other varieties of cucumber and are less likely to water down the recipe. 
  • Rice – I use short grain sushi rice in this recipe. It’s stickier than long-grain white rice which helps to hold the base of this stack together. 
  • Wontons – I love frying wontons to create crispy crackers for this sushi stack appetizer. I buy packages of wonton skins at the grocery store, then cut them in half on the diagonal before frying!

How to Make this California Roll Sushi Stack

fried wontons for California Roll Sushi Stack
Step 1: Fry the wontons.

In a deep-fryer or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add enough vegetable oil to fill about an inch up the pan. Heat oil to 350°F (180ºC). Work a few wontons at a time, add to the skillet and fry on both sides, about 30 seconds total. Do not add too many at a time or it will crowd the pan.

Remove wontons to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Continue until all the wontons have been fried. Set aside until ready to serve.

mayo and spicy sauce California Roll Sushi Stack
Step 2: Mix the spicy mayo sauce.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the kewpie mayonnaise, rice vinegar and sriracha and set aside.

shredded kani for California Roll Sushi Stack
Step 3: Shred the kani

Use your fingers or two forks to shred the kani sticks and add to the bowl with the sauce.  

kani salad for California Roll Sushi Stack
Step 4: Mix the kani salad.

Toss the kani in the mayo sauce then gently stir in 1 tablespoon of the tobiko.

ingredient to make the roll
Step 5: Pack the ingredients in the measuring cup

Lightly grease a 1 cup measuring cup with the vegetable oil. Add the kani salad to the measuring cup followed by cucumber, avocado and about 1/3 cup of the cooked sushi rice. Press it firmly to pack the mixture together.

inverted measuring cup
Step 6: Invert the measuring cup.

Hold a serving plate to the open side of the cup and invert it, slowly removing the measuring cup so the mixture forms a stack. If the stack sticks, use a sharp knife and run it around the inside of the measuring cup to help loosen it.

garnished and ready for serving
Step 7: Garnish and serve.

Garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, green onions and the remaining tobiko. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve with fried wonton chips.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

How to Make with Real Crab Meat

Rather than using kani, imitation crab meat, use lump crab in this recipe. Swapping in real crab meat will change the texture slightly but the sauce will help to bind it together. 

How to Prep This Ahead of Time 

The kani salad mixture can be made up to a day in advance and assembled in the stack just before serving. The wonton chips can be fried up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container until ready to use. 

How to Make Wonton Chips in the Air Fryer 

Heat the air fryer to 350ºF (180ºC). Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the basket and, working in batches, add a few of the wontons to the basket at a time. Cook until golden brown, turning them halfway through for about 2 to 3 minutes total. 

Swaps and substitutions 

  • For a more classic sushi stack, the kani salad can be swapped with ahi tuna.
  • To make this recipe gluten free, swap the crispy wontons with sheets of nori (or seaweed snacks). 
  • Omit the roe if you can’t find it or don’t prefer it.
  • Try adding a drizzle of eel sauce or soy sauce just before serving.
  • The crispy wontons can be swapped with sheets of nori for scooping the crab. 
  • Kewpie mayonnaise can be swapped with regular mayonnaise mixed with a teaspoon of mirin. 
garnished and serving of California Roll Sushi Stack

Other Recipes to Try 

If you enjoy this sushi stack recipe, I recommend checking out these sushi-inspired recipes and share your thoughts on Instagram:

California Roll Sushi Stack

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the fried wonton chips:

  • Vegetable oil, as needed, for frying
  • 20 wonton wrappers, cut in half diagonally

For the sushi stack:

  • ¼ pound kani (imitation crab meat), about 7 sticks
  • 2 tablespoons kewpie mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tobiko roe, divided (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
  • ½ medium English cucumber, diced into ½” pieces
  • 1 cup cooked sushi rice
  • 1 medium Hass avocado, pitted, peeled and diced into ½” pieces
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 medium green onion, thinly sliced

Instructions:

For the fried wonton chips:

  • In a deep-fryer or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add enough vegetable oil to fill about an inch up the pan. Heat oil to 350°F (180ºC). Work a few wontons at a time, add to the skillet and fry on both sides, about 30 seconds total. Do not add too many at a time or it will crowd the pan.
  • Remove wontons to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Continue until all the wontons have been fried. Set aside until ready to serve.

For the sushi stack:

  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the kewpie mayonnaise, rice vinegar and sriracha and set aside.
  • Use your fingers or two forks to shred the kani sticks and add to the bowl with the sauce.
  • Toss the kani in the mayo sauce then gently stir in 1 tablespoon of the tobiko.
  • Lightly grease a 1 cup measuring cup with the vegetable oil. Add the kani salad to the measuring cup followed by cucumber, avocado and about 1/3 cup of the cooked sushi rice. Press it firmly to pack the mixture together.
  • Hold a serving plate to the open side of the cup and invert it, slowly removing the measuring cup so the mixture forms a stack. If the stack sticks, use a sharp knife and run it around the inside of the measuring cup to help loosen it.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions and the remaining tobiko. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve with fried wonton chips.

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