I was mesmerized by the colours in this salad: the pale pink and white crab meat beside the pale green cucumber and avocado bits. I had visions of a garden party with girls in pretty dresses and ladies in large-brimmed sun hats. And of a gingham-clad picnic table filled only with foods that were white, pink and green. The California-sushi-roll salad would be the centrepiece, perhaps even displayed in a pedestal bowl. Normally a vision like this would make me gag. Pink? Gingham tablecloths? I was never a girly-girl who sashayed around in princess dresses and tiaras. I was more into playing super-sleuth Nancy Drew at recess with my friends. My biggest fear about the possibility of this baby inside of me being a girl is the reluctance to have our house gradually filling with all things pink, pretty and plastic for the next dozen years or so. But looking at this pretty partly pink salad made me feel almost serene. And made me want to host a potluck of just pink-coloured foods, on a warm, sunny afternoon.
But then I stopped staring at the salad, snapped a photo and dished out the portions for my family. The consensus? My husband and I loved, loved, loved it. Our toddler enjoyed it best with pieces of shredded nori, or seaweed, which he calls ‘sushi’. And our 19-year-old housemate? She was less enthused. But she’s not a sushi-aficionado like the rest of us, nor is she a huge fan of imitation crab meat. But she did have a second helping and sprinkled it with more toasted sesame seeds. For my second serving, I followed my toddler’s lead and tossed in some shredded seaweed. Hmm, I could have made some rolls or cones with it, too. Maybe next time. This California-sushi-roll salad is definitely one of my new favourites. And I’ll bet it tastes just as good cold, as it can be refrigerated for up to one day. Thankfully, I’ll get to find out: we have leftovers!
I should have timed how long (or should I say ‘short’?) it took to prepare this salad. The recipe states 22 minutes and I think I came in at par. While I waited for the water to boil, I was able to prepare most of the salad items: juicing the lime, mincing the garlic, scraping out the cucumber seeds. The avocado was a perfect specimen for making sushi — perfectly ripe but still firm. It’s not always easy to find the perfect avocado, especially when I buy a bag of them in advance and just hope that one is ripe on the day I want to eat it.
I only wish I had thawed the imitation crab earlier because when I was chopping it into little pieces, I could feel my knife forcing its way through the still-frozen bits. Oh well, they thawed quickly once I added them to the warm orzo. I was surprised that I did not notice the two cloves of garlic in the dressing. I was concerned that, even though I love garlic, it would be overpowering. Not so. This salad left my mouth filled with the flavours of Japanese food, the salty soy sauce, sugar and lime juice mixed together to perfection. Too bad we weren’t eating it in a beautiful park in Tokyo during the cherry blossom festival . . .