Tuesday, May 26, 2015

California Roll Tartine Recipe

After completing some recipes for a client recently I was looking for something to do with leftover fake crab, and it occurred to me that the most common way to use it was in a California Roll. But I gave it a twist making a California Roll Tartine instead, using toasted whole grain bread, topped with sliced avocado, unrolled "crab legs" and thin slices of cucumber. If you like a California Roll, you can be pretty sure you're going to like the sandwich too. 

According to one of my favorite food history resources, The Food Timeline, two different Japanese sushi chefs coming out Los Angeles in the early 1970's are credited for having invented the California Roll, an Americanized sushi that quickly became very popular. The sushi roll sometimes uses real crab but more often uses fake crab, made from surimi. The roll was invented around the same time imitation crab was produced and patented. 

This was the first time I ever bought a package of crab sticks. Call it imitation crab, fake crab, surimi, or whatever you like, it's a product made from the Alaskan fish pollock, and is commonly used in things like sushi, chirashi or salads. It doesn't contain much crab if any at all, and truth be told it doesn't really taste like crab, but it is inexpensive and convenient and I actually like the way it tastes. It comes in sticks, but you can unroll them into thin sheets that can easily go in a sandwich or you can shred them to make a seafood salad. 

The combination of avocado, cucumber and crab or fake crab is so tried and true, I think you could use it other ways as well--piled on crackers, or stacked in appetizer style kabobs, maybe even rolled into rice paper, like a summer roll. If you prefer a more traditional sandwich with two slices of bread, you could make a heartier fake crab salad sandwich filling by shredding the crab sticks and mixing it with mayonnaise. As a tartine or open faced sandwich it makes a nice lunch but would also be a lovely thing to serve for afternoon tea. 

California Roll Tartine


Whole grain peasant bread slices, toasted
Avocado, sliced, about 1/3 per sandwich
Crab sticks, rolled, about 2 per sandwich
English cucumber, thinly sliced, enough to cover the bread 


Layer or spread the avocado evenly on the toasted bread, as thick as you like. Top with the unrolled crab sticks and finish with the cucumber slices.