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this is serious

Recipe: california roll burger

You can’t fight the weather. The best thing you can do is roll with it. That’s what I’ve been telling myself anyway. Now that the crud in my chest is clearing and I no longer sound like Kathleen Turner, we’ve been getting outside to assess the snowpack. Total spring conditions: ice in the morning, corn snow in the afternoon. We noticed over the weekend that our front yard aspens are already forming buds a month early.

still getting nice color in the mornings and evenings

walking on hardpack

The spring equinox is a day away and all of this increased daylight prompts me to think of spring and summer cooking. Normally we’d be shoveling a few feet of Rocky Mountain powder from the driveway, but it looks like spring has come early for Colorado. My friends in Southern California, however, are always in perpetual spring-summer. Allison posted a photo of a California roll burger on her Facebook page a few weeks ago and I haven’t been able to shake the idea since. A little Google action brought me to 26 Beach Restaurant’s California burger roll. Oh. My. Freaking. Goodness.

a lot of components, but totally worth the trouble

It’s pretty much what you’d guess it to be – a hamburger with the components of the revered fusion California roll. How could this not be amazing? Throughout the week, my mind would wander to the California roll burger. What would I put on mine? It’s heavy enough with the beef patty and the bun, so I opted out of adding sushi rice. In addition to the traditional lettuce and tomato, I figured there would be crab salad, avocado, masago (capelin roe), pickled ginger (gari), toasted seaweed (nori), and wasabi mayonnaise. Instead of our standard potato roll buns, I picked up some challah rolls. And if we were going to do this right, why not some shredded king crab legs for the salad? You could use krab (surimi), but I find real crab to be beyond awesome.

shelling the crab

mix mayonnaise with shredded crab meat

make the wasabi mayonniase: stir some wasabi powder into the mayo

Now, with regard to the burger… Ever since Todd and Diane told me about adding a dash of fish sauce to the ground beef, we have been hooked. You don’t need much fish sauce and you can’t taste it specifically. What you do taste is the umami (aka “ummmm nom nom”) and it makes a great burger. Brilliant. This I highly recommend!

magic ingredient: a splash of fish sauce in the ground beef

form patties (don’t pack too tightly)


Before your burgers are ready, I suggest getting your toppings prepped and ready to go. The burger is best served as hot as possible. I first layered the bottom half of the bun with red leaf lettuce and tomatoes, then placed the patty on top hot off the grill. Next was a layer of crab salad (just crab meat with a little mayonnaise), masago, and pickled ginger. Now, masago isn’t listed in the restaurant description of the burger, but it’s a standard in our California rolls and we love the crunch of the little eggs. I think it’s worth including. Based on photos I’ve seen, 26 Beach’s burger has a huge heaping pile of crab salad, but we actually wanted to eat these like a burger and not with a fork and a knife, so I tried to keep the height of the burger “slightly insane” rather than “completely outrageous”.

lettuce, tomato, patty

top with crab, masago, pickled ginger (gari)

Next: a few slices of avocado, nori strips, and for me – a squirt (or two) of Sriracha hot sauce. For Jeremy, I poured some of that sweet anago (eel) sauce instead of the Sriracha. Both versions are excellent. And finally, spread some wasabi mayonnaise on the top bun and you’re ready to (California) roll (burger).

spread some wasabi mayonnaise on the top bun

finish the burger with avocado, seaweed (nori strips), and a touch of sriracha!

This. This burger. Absolutely addictive. It’s a lot of food and it is messy to eat, but I am totally in love with it. We had these for lunch on Saturday and from the end of lunch Saturday until the start of lunch on Sunday, Jeremy couldn’t wait for the second burger. Of course, you realize the obvious next step is to make the other sushi burgers on the menu: spicy tuna, eel and plenty of other combinations I can think of! It’s the perfect project for summer: grilling and sushi. And the burger is perfect with a side of sweet potato, taro, parsnip, and other root chips.

the california roll burger is great with a mix of root chips

California Roll Burger
[print recipe]
inspired by 26 Beach’s Katsu’s California Roll Burger

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp fish sauce (don’t omit this, seriously)
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 oz. crab meat
1-2 tbsps mayonnaise
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2-1 tsp wasabi powder (to taste)
lettuce, washed
tomato, sliced
masago or tobiko (fish roe)
pickled ginger (gari)
avocado, sliced
nori strips (just take nori and slice it with a knife into thin strips)
Sriracha sauce or anago (eel) sauce

Mix the ground beef, fish sauce, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the crab meat with 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (to your desired creaminess) and set aside. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise with up to a teaspoon of wasabi powder to taste. Form the ground beef into four patties, taking care not to pack them too tightly. Grill the patties on high heat to desired doneness, flipping once. Remove the burgers when ready and layer on the bottom bun: lettuce, tomato, burger, crab salad, masago, a few slices of pickled ginger, avocado, nori strips, and Sriracha sauce or anago (eel) sauce. Spread wasabi mayo on the top bun and cap the burger. Serve hot. Makes 4 burgers.

37 nibbles at “this is serious”

  1. Allison says:

    This makes me so happy. Now I need to try your recipe (it looks fantastic!), and you guys definitely also need to come visit me so you can try the 26 Beach burgers too! ^_^

  2. Kulsum at JourneyKitchen says:

    Well I have no doubt this is crazy good! as for the weather? Try dust storm every single day :|

  3. Kevin (Closet Cooking) says:

    Great idea! That burger looks amazing!

  4. tami says:

    i about fell out of my chair when i saw this. goodness – i’d fall off the vegetarian wagon for that.

  5. Melissa | Dash of East says:

    What. This is brilliant! I’m with Tami on this one :)

  6. thelittleloaf says:

    Oh wow, this looks utterly incredible! Crab meat, juicy burger and all that delicious spice with a wasabi kick wrapped up in a big burger bun? Heaven. I’m with tami, nearly fell out of my chair :-)

  7. Mel says:

    Oh my goodness! This looks insanely good!

  8. Tricia @ {every}nothing wonderful says:

    Geeeeeezus this looks good! I need to make this happen. It’s acceptable for breakfast, right? Ok. Good. Because I want it right now…like all your food. I’m beginning to see a trend…

  9. Esther says:

    This looks amazing! But I’m more curious as to how you sliced your avocado?! It looks perfect!

  10. Kita says:

    Just saw this on foodgawker and about fell out of my chair! Holy crap this looks delicious!

  11. ska says:

    Please do show us how you managed to slice the avocado circles so perfectly.
    Your burger looks absolutely scrumptious.

  12. Stacey says:

    Great looking burger but who has a mouth big enough to take a bite out of it?? How does a person eat such tall burgers like that?

  13. Kate @ Savour Fare says:

    I’m a loyal Eastsider (Pasadena 4Ever) but that burger may be enough to get me to head to Venice. OK, I work near Venice, but let’s ignore that.

    I like adding a squirt of Sriracha to burgers generally, but what would also be awesome is to make it a spicy CA roll burger and add Sriracha to the mayo mixed in with the crab.

  14. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Whoa!!! I’ve never even thought of california roll in the burger. Amazing! There are always people who have creative minds. Your pictures are amazing!

  15. Lannie says:

    omg…. what an amazing idea…. omg i want to make every sushi roll into a burger right now, and vice versa…

    tempura burger?? OH HAI.

    actually my mom would sometimes put cooked beef into gimbap. does that count?

  16. Mrs Ergül says:

    This must be one hell of a yummy burger!!! So huge!!! And it does get messy as they say at Carl’s Jr.

  17. L. says:

    Holy wow. This look amazing. It would be great with some sliced cucumber too.

  18. Tony says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who was baffled by your avocado slices :) How did slice it like that?! Did you chop parallel chunks off from opposite sides of the avocado seed and some how slide/pop the seed out from the center piece? It looks beautiful and the burger sounds delicious!

  19. Delaney says:

    Whoa MOMMA. This just went on the shortlist for weekend projects. Must find meat-eaters to invite over!

    And yes, please spill on the avocado slicing technique. Seriously sexy.

  20. Stacey says:

    I assume you simply cut the avocado around it’s “middle* rather than it’s length and then just slice eace half. A nice sharp mandolin would do that also. If it’s too soft, slice with skin on to hold it’s form while slicing and then trim the skin from the slices.

  21. jillian says:

    This is such a great idea! I love the idea of the fish sauce in the burger.

  22. joey says:

    This looks awesome! I read that tip about the fish sauce from Todd and Diane and I have been meaning to try it…especially since fish sauce is so typical where I live!

    You live in such a gorgeous place…I love the little peeks of it we get from your photos and stories :)

  23. Sarah says:

    Ooooooh mmmmmmyyyy gooooooodneeeesss!! That looks completely amazingly delicious!

  24. Andrew [the fatty chalupa] says:

    Dear Jen,

    Why must you taunt me like this?

  25. vanillasugarblog says:

    that is quite possibly one of the best burgers i’ve seen in a long time.
    how did you slice the avocado that way? they are perfect.
    ok if i include this link on my “friday fun stuff” round up?
    i mean people have to know about this creative creation.

  26. Margie says:

    This is a ‘fancy-pants’ sandwich of the mega sort…a true beauty, and one that begs the question, “How soon?”

    YumCity 4sure. It’s going on the list.

  27. Petra says:

    Wow, this is getting bookmarked for summer for sure! What a good idea!

  28. LaBellaVive says:

    Oh my gosh, the burgers were awesome! We tried it tonight after running into this site 2 days ago. I’m hooked and bought ingredients for the Black Cod Miso, Chicken Sizzling Rice Soup and Chinese Hot Pot this coming week. Thanks for posting pictures of the packaging for the ingredients btw!

  29. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says:

    So I’m catching up on my Google Reader after a lengthy vacation and this recipe definitely made me stop and go YUUUM!! I love everything about this burger. So creative :)

  30. jenyu says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! Several had asked about slicing the avocado, so here’s a tutorial I posted for you:

    Allison – we will DEFINITELY come see you and camp out at 26 Beach to try all of their sushi burgers :) Thanks for introducing me to the genius!

    Kulsum – that sounds so terrible :(

    tami – ha ha! I can vouch for how awesome it is :)

    Tricia – I believe it is acceptable any time of day!

    Stacey – yeah, I tried to keep it reasonable (the restaurant burger looks taller than mine!). You pretty much have to squash it down and then start gnawing. But it’s amazing.

    Kate – I thought of doing that, but because Jeremy doesn’t take spicy as well as I do, I just added MORE sriracha to mine :)

    Lannie – I think anything is fair game :)

    jillian – it is really a nice addition. I do this every time we make burgers now.

    joey – thank you! xo

    Andrew – I’m sorry! If you lived next door, I’d have you come over to help us finish the food :)

    vanillasugarblog – oh hon, you can always link back, no prob xo

    LaBellaVive – glad to hear it! Worth the trouble, isn’t it? :)

    Brandon – thanks, sweetie :)

  31. Deb in Indiana says:

    Brilliant. I’m going to try it subbing crab cakes (because I love them ) for the burger altogether.

  32. Carol says:

    I made these last night (finally….I’ve been thinking about them since your post). It was actually a full day effort as I also made the challah buns, walked a three mile round trip to get the grass-fed ground beef and the snow crab, and it took a while to get 8 ounces of crab meat shelled. The only thing I changed was to omit the lettuce and tomato because they aren’t in California Rolls. I used avocado from our tree, the full teaspoon of wasabi powder, the tobiko, and the sriracha since I couldn’t find anago. IT WAS EXCELLENT! The flavors were all there, the crab and sriracha and wasabi and tobika and beef. The challah buns were great, and an excellent choice as I don’t think any regular bun from the store would have held up. I toasted the buns under the broiler before loading them up. This was a real treat, and will go on the list for special meals. It would go in regular rotation, but for the time and expense. Well done.

  33. Alfresco Refreshed: Burgers « So hungry I could blog says:

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  34. amy kim says:

    oooo….wasabi mayo. i have a whole tin of wasabi powder just waiting to become something. this is a great idea!

    oh, and the burger looks awesome. will also try the fish sauce secret ingredient…

    great site and beautiful photos!!

  35. j3nn says:

    Oh my GOODNESS! That looks amazing. Brilliant… just brilliant! I love that you shelled the crab legs and all. I need to use king crab more often, it’s so pliable. Yum!

  36. Vicky says:

    That looks phenomenal!!!! I’m going to be on the lookout for king crab legs next time I go to Costco… or make a quick trip down to Venice Beach!

  37. The Krabby Patty (California Roll Burger) | The Busy Spatula says:

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