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California Roll Salad

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I call this Sushi Salad and my friends love it but technically it is a California Roll Salad. Whatever you call it this rice salad is a delicious combination of all the elements in a California Roll tossed together in a bowl. The kind of big salad I like to make for a Pot Luck event. The kind of salad that brings comments like, “Can I have the recipe for this?”, so here it is.

The ingredients can often be found in the Asian section of a well-stocked grocery store. If you haven’t made sushi or tried Japanese cooking the gluten free checklist may seem daunting but I think the result is satisfying.

It goes without saying…but I feel compelled to say it…you must read the label of each product every time. Even ingredients that are naturally gluten free may have additives and preservatives, including wheat or other food allergens. Check your labels and support the brands displaying a gluten free claim and the mandatory allergen warning.

Gluten Free California Roll Salad Ingredients

Rice vinegar – Available as either unseasoned or seasoned. Rice vinegar labelled seasoned has sugar and salt added to it. I prefer to season my own food and not have two types of rice vinegar in my pantry so I buy unseasoned rice vinegar. All Marukan brand rice vinegars are gluten free and GMO free.

Pickled ginger – Also called sushi ginger this is thinly sliced, young ginger in a brine of sugar and vinegar so is naturally gluten free. Young ginger turns a pink hue from the pickling process but some brands add colouring to enhance the pink colour. Pickled ginger is sold in plastic tubs or jars in the deli or Asian section. It should have an expiry date but will last up to a year in the fridge.

Nori sheets (seaweed) – Edible seaweed is shredded, pressed into thin sheets and then dried. The sheets are sold in square packages, regular or toasted. Tightly sealed they last indefinitely in the pantry and even the toasted sheets can be re-toasted to bring out the natural grassy flavour.

Crabmeat – Fresh crab and canned crab are gluten free. Fake crab or sea legs are not…and who really wants to eat anything that starts with the word fake?

Soy sauce – There are several brands of gluten free soy sauce and tamari available.

Wasabi – This Japanese type of horseradish is familiar to us as the green paste served with sushi. Wasabi is expensive and therefore some brands of wasabi paste and wasabi powder, especially in North America, may be made of mustard or non-Japanese horseradish to provide a similar tasting product at a lower price. (Frustrating!) Also, some preparations of both the powder and the paste include wheat starch and this would be declared on the label.

The good news, both wasabi paste and wasabi powder are available gluten free. The paste is sold in tubes, the powder in little tins. Wasabi powder can be made into a paste by adding a little hot water. Let it sit for a few minutes and you have paste. Wasabi powder made by Eden Foods is gluten free. Let me know in the comments below what gluten free brands you have found.

So once you get your pantry stocked with these gluten free ingredients you will be able to make this gluten free California Roll Salad and maybe some sushi too. Let me know how it worked in the comments below.


1½ cups long grain rice
¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar (first amount)
¼ cup sugar
1½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar (second amount)
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped pickled ginger
4 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths, each length cut into thin strips
½ cup finely shredded carrot
1 seedless cucumber, quartered lengthwise, cored and chopped
1 avocado
1 can crabmeat, drained
2 sheets nori (seaweed)
3 Tbsp GF soy sauce
1½ Tbsp GF wasabi paste
1½ tsp ginger juice from jar of pickled ginger


Bring rice and water to a boil in medium saucepan. Put the lid on, turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
While rice is steaming in small saucepan combine first amount of rice vinegar (¼ cup), sugar and salt. Bring to a boil stirring until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Transfer hot rice to a large bowl and stir in warm vinegar mixture. Mix well spreading rice out to the sides of the bowl allowing it to cool.
Add sesame seeds, second amount of rice vinegar (3 Tbsp), oil, pickled ginger, green onions, carrot and cucumber. Salad can be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
Pit and peel avocado. Quarter avocado and cut crosswise into thin slices. Add avocado and crab to rice mixture.
Toast nori sheets by slowly swiping each sheet back and forth over moderate heat (gas or electric burner) until it turns bright green, about 30 seconds. With scissors cut the nori into thin 2-inch long strips. Add ¾ of strips to the rice and toss well. Reserve the remaining strips for garnish.
In a small bowl stir all dressing ingredients until smooth.
Transfer rice salad to a large glass bowl. Sprinkle with remaining nori strips and drizzle with dressing.


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