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the intersection of sushi and geology

Recipe: volcano roll sushi

My parents arrived in Boulder over the weekend. Back in September, when I learned that they were going to spend Thanksgiving week in Las Vegas, I asked them why on earth they weren’t coming to Boulder if they were already out west? I’ve only been through Vegas a couple of times, to fill gas and keep driving. Apparently they like Vegas. But they also like me, so they have a long layover in Colorado to visit and see what it’s like in non-summer here. My parents are not winter folk (I know, how did I fall so far from the tree?) and luckily for them – sadly for me, it’s hardly acting like winter around here. However, my parents do love a good party…

i can throw a party

I got their place set up for a little wine and cheese action before they arrived. My dad is all about having a plan, especially when someone else is implementing it. He is also a huge fan of drinking good wine with good people. Check and check. Jeremy was worried that they would be tired from traveling and was I sure they wanted to host a party at their place? Mom and Dad host parties like a boss. They walked into their condo, unpacked, got prettied up, tidied the place, sampled the food I was preparing, then greeted and charmed all of my friends as they arrived. It was a super fun evening and everyone had a grand time. Most importantly, my folks had fun.

My friend, Shirley, saw a picture of the food on Facebook and asked what I served, so here’s the rundown:

crudités and spinach dip
sweet onion dip and crostini
duck prosciutto, tartufo (truffle) salami, finocchietto (fennel) salami, chorizo
brie and tomato jam
manchego and membrillo
gorgonzola dulce, candied walnuts, fresh figs, and honey
castelvetrano olives
assorted crackers and sliced baguette
ginger lemon cookies

the spread

nibbly deliciousness

and a faboo sunset from the balcony to kick it all off!

Did I mention that I know nothing about cheeses? Because I don’t. I don’t eat cheese unless it is part of a recipe, but it was fun harassing the cheese experts around town to help me select and plan my menu. Now sushi is another story altogether. I know a little something about sushi. I know that I love that sushi in my belly… We had leftover crab from Thanksgiving – or rather, I saved a crab leg from our Thanksgiving dinner to make this sushi roll I had while I was on the road, from a grocery store, in middle-of-nowhere Colorado. Risky, I know, but it was awesome for grocery store sushi and the little lady preparing it was a total darling. Besides, I am drawn to foods with geologic names.

sushi rice (raw), mayonnaise, wasabi, maguro (sashimi-grade tuna), king crab, avocado, cucumber, masago (flying fish roe), nori, and sriracha

peel the crab, chop the tuna

mix the spicy tuna (tuna, mayonnaise, and sriracha)

mix the crab salad (cooked crab meat and mayonnaise)

A lot of things that are obvious to me may not be obvious for people who don’t eat sushi, don’t prepare sushi, or don’t know how to cook. So let’s be clear: only use sashimi-grade tuna from a reputable and trusted source. Why sashimi-grade as opposed to random slab of raw tuna? Because sashimi-grade has been inspected and also frozen to a temperature low-enough to kill any parasites. If this makes you squeamish and uncomfortable, don’t make this roll. Also, the crab is never raw. We use cooked crab. In fact, I don’t know where I can source uncooked king crab legs. If your search fails to come up with crab meat, then you can always use surimi or fake crab or krab or as we pronounce it in the House of Butter, kay-rab.

mix the wasabi mayonniase

then mix the sriracha mayonnaise

greenish and orangish

long and thin slices for making maki

Mise en place is essential when making sushi. So be sure to do your prep ahead of time. Make the sushi rice. Make your spicy tuna salad and your crab salad. Mix your wasabi mayonnaise and your sriracha mayonnaise. Slice your avocado and cucumber. Now you are ready, Freddy.

spread rice on 3/5 of the nori

layer the cucumber, avocado, and crab salad on the flip side

wrap in plastic and press into a round roll


When working with sticky sushi rice, it helps to have wet hands. Keep a bowl of water nearby and just wet your hands before handling the rice. It will result in reduced amounts of swearing, I promise. Plastic wrap is super handy when making inside-out rolls (versus regular maki with the rice on the inside of the seaweed sheet). And when you slice the roll, wet the knife too. We just want to avoid stickage, because that makes everything more difficult – and it is not my intention to make your life difficult.

top with spicy tuna

then masago

squeeze some sriracha mayonnaise, then wasabi mayonnaise on top

After placing spicy tuna on each individual cut on the first roll, I decided to put the spicy tuna on the uncut second roll. That was much easier and faster. What you do is spread the spicy tuna on the uncut roll, lay the plastic wrap over the roll and tuck it in snugly around the edges. Give it a squeeze with the bamboo mat (see how it’s done here), then slice the roll through the plastic. Don’t be tentative, don’t saw at it, just use a really sharp knife, dipped in water (to wet the blade) and make a clean and decisive slice through the middle of the roll. Repeat until you have eight equal pieces. Then the plastic just comes right off in one (albeit shredded) piece. Top it off with some masago or tobiko (flying fish roe), then the sriracha and wasabi mayonnaises. I find it easiest to do using squeeze bottles, but if you don’t want to get fancy, you can just drop little dabs on each piece. Finally, a sprinkle of black sesame seeds for effect and a nice nutty accent.

a volcano of amazeballs in one bite

Volcano Roll Sushi
[print recipe]

4 cups cooked sushi rice (see below)
2 cups spicy tuna
1 cup crab salad
1 cup mayonnaise
2-4 tbsps wasabi powder
1-2 tbsps sriracha to taste
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced into 12 pieces
2 cups cucumber, julienned
4 sheets nori (roasted seaweed)
1/4 cup masago or tobiko (flying fish roe)
black sesame seeds

sushi rice
2 cups sushi rice (uncooked)
2 cups water
3 tbsps rice vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsps sugar

Rice: I use a rice cooker. Combine the water and rice and cook per the instructions on your rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can try these instructions (I’ve not done them myself): Wash, drain, and soak the rice in water for at least 30 minutes, then drain. Combine the rice and measured water in a saucepan and cover. Place the pan over moderately high heat. When the water boils, reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for at least 10 minutes (don’t remove the lid or you’ll ruin it).

Dressing: Combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a bowl and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.

Sushi Rice: Wet a mixing bowl large enough for the rice. Wipe off excess water. Wet the tub a second time with vinegared water (1 cup water + 2-3 tablespoons vinegar). Wipe off any excess. Heap the cooked rice in center. Allow rice to cool in the tub for 10 minutes. Pour the dressing over the rice and mix the dressing evenly with a large spoon or rice paddle. While mixing, fan the rice to cool it. The rice is ready to use when it reaches body temperature.

spicy tuna
1 lb. maguro (sashimi-grade tuna), coarsely chopped (yields about 2 cups)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (to taste)
sriracha sauce (to taste)

Mix a tablespoon of mayonnaise at a time into the tuna until it reaches the consistency you prefer. Mix in a little sriracha at a time until you get the desired spiciness.

crab salad
1 cup crab meat (cooked) or surimi (aka krab), shredded by hand (nothing fancy)
1-2 tbsps mayonnaise (to taste)

Mix a tablespoon of mayonnaise at a time into the crab meat until you get the desired consistency.

Volcano roll: Divide the cup of mayonnaise into two half-cup quantities in separate bowls. Mix a teaspoon of water into the wasabi powder and stir until the water is absorbed. Continue adding a little bit of water and stirring the wasabi until you achieve a nice paste (you can make it pretty dry or more wet as you like – the less dry it is, the more easily it will mix into the mayonnaise). Add a teaspoon of wasabi paste to a half cup of mayonnaise and stir until combined. Press out any lumps. Add more wasabi until the mayonnaise is spicy enough to your liking. Now add sriracha by little squirts to the remaining half cup of mayonnaise and stir until uniform. Taste for spiciness and adjust accordingly. If you overdo it on either of the mayonnaises, just add more mayonnaise to cut the heat. Place each mayonnaise in a squeeze bottle.

On a sheet of plastic wrap, set down one sheet of nori. With wet hands, grab a handful of sushi rice and evenly spread across the top 3/5 of the nori sheet, pressing the rice down to ensure it sticks to the seaweed. Flip the nori over so that the rice faces down onto the plastic wrap. At the non-rice end of the nori, lay out a dozen cucumber strips parallel to the edge of nori with an inch of margin. Layer 2-3 avocado slices on the cucumber, then spread a quarter of the crab salad over the avocado. While it is tempting, don’t overfill the roll. Roll the fillings up from the non-rice end of the nori (like a carpet) and continue to roll tightly, but not too tightly until the rice encompasses the entire outer part of the roll. Use the plastic wrap to help maintain shape without letting the roll stick to you. Use a bamboo mat to firm up the shape (round – we’re shooting for round) and compact the roll. Remove the bamboo mat and the plastic wrap from the roll.

At this point you can either pile spicy tuna on top of the roll and lay the plastic wrap over it and around the roll for ease of cutting (this is faster, me thinks) or cut the roll without any tuna on it and put the tuna on the individual cut pieces. If you choose the first method, use a really sharp knife, dip it in water, and slice the roll in half through the plastic. Cut the two remaining pieces in halves and repeat again until you have 8 pieces. A sharp knife is important or else you’ll just squash all of your hard work. When the roll is cut, peel the plastic off – it should come off in one shredded piece, but nothing should be left on the roll. If you choose the second method (no tuna on top) dip a very sharp knife in water and cut the roll in half. Repeat until you have 8 pieces. Arrange your non-tuna pieces on a plate and carefully spoon spicy tuna onto each piece.

Top the tuna with masago or tobiko, then squeeze some sriracha mayonnaise over the roll, followed by a squeeze of wasabi mayonnaise. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Serve with wasabi, gari (pickled ginger), and soy sauce. This makes at least 4 cut rolls.

23 nibbles at “the intersection of sushi and geology”

  1. Kristin says:

    So beautiful! If you get tired of photography, you could be a sushi chef or party planner. But I hope you don’t ever get tired of photography!

  2. Allie says:

    That. Looks. So. Good. You are amazing!!!!!!

  3. Twila says:

    I bet your parties are so well-attended! My husband and I have noted that our occasional pulled-pork party is the only one to which people rsvp, almost all say yes, and arrive on time. If only I made a spread like yours, I’d always have such well-behaved friends :) Looks fabulous.

  4. Lisa says:

    This looks so good, I would have to say it is the prettiest picture I have seen to date on foodgawker. The color and composition is on the money. This is on my too do list, make volcano rolls from use real butter.

  5. Jaclyn says:

    You got me with the sriracha mayo. I love spicy foods and these look simply amazing! I love your first pic too! Your blog is always awesome great recipes and stunning photos!

  6. ducksandbooks says:

    we make spicy tuna with canned tuna, it’s not quite the same as fresh, sushi-grade fish, but it sure makes impromptu sushi night easier!

  7. Gina Marion says:

    you are brilliant!

  8. Kathy Swanson says:

    An exceptional looking feast. I am happy your parents decided to visit for a late Thanksgiving type celebration. Hope they decided Colorado is pretty awesome even in the cold months!

  9. JulieD says:

    This looks amazing…I have been wanting to make the plunge and finally make sushi…this might just do it for me. Thank you!!

  10. Marisa @ Uproot From Oregon says:

    I have never seen more beautiful sushi. Truly. I had some lackluster sushi tonight but it did not satisfy my craving. Can you open a spot in Nederland and I’ll be your regular customer? : )

  11. Caddie says:

    Oh yummm! I wish I never read this cuz now I’m starving! Looks absolutely gorgeous!

  12. Dana says:

    Jen, I don’t even eat fish and I think this is an incredible stunner! Your attention to details and patience with making beautiful food is always inspiring to me. I tend to muscle my way through things, especially the more complicated things. I can learn a thing or two (or 100) from you.

  13. Joy says:

    Your sushi looks great! It looks so professional :D

  14. jenyu says:

    Kristin – ha! I think going into food professionally would be a great way for me to hate it ;)

    Allie – thank you xo

    Twila – :) I’m sure your parties are great just because you are there!

    Lisa – you’re very sweet, thanks.

    Jacyln – thanks! You can make it as spicy as you like too.

    ducksandbooks – wow, I haven’t eaten canned tuna in years!

    Gina – xoxo

    Kathy – I think they had a good time :) You know, it takes patience and time to convince them it’s worth sticking around Colorado a little longer ;)

    JulieD – yay!

    Marisa – oh that would be hilarious, opening a resto in Ned is the last thing I want to do ;)

    Caddie – ha!

    Dana – hey, we each have our own way. My way isn’t always best :) I think it’s most important that you find what your strengths are and run with them xo

    Joy – thank you, hon. xo

  15. The Craving: Sushi | says:

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  16. condospalillos says:

    i love this recipe!!!!, as much that i’m gonna make it for for my japanese food blog, yummy yummy!!!

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  19. Kristine says:

    I love this recipe! Curious, what kind of mayonaise do you use? A specific brand? Because I’ve tried Kewpie mayo and the taste just wasn’t right. Thanks!

  20. jenyu says:

    Kristine – I use Kraft or Hellman’s or Best Foods. Sometimes I use organic mayonnaise from Whole Foods, but I don’t think it tastes as good. Homemade would probably be best, but I haven’t tried it.

  21. Jody Reeder says:

    I hope to get this emailed.

  22. Steve Taylor says:

    This is one of the best sushi roll recipes I have ever seen. I love sushi and I love to know and try different types of sushi. I was wondering to make volcano roll at home with the help of my sushi tools. I am definitely gonna try this. I hope it will taste good and kids will like it. Thanks for sharing such an amazing sushi recipe.

  23. ferdi says:

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