Tempura California Roll Recipe – All you Need for Crunchy Roll Sushi!

Crunchy roll Sushi is a popular and tasty version of the popular California roll. The crunchy roll features a shrimp tempura filling and is topped with toasted panko breadcrumbs that are nice and crispy!

The flavor and texture elevate this dish to being one of the best sushi ones available!

Crunchy Roll Sushi - What is it?

We touched on it briefly earlier, but for those who aren’t sure, let’s have a quick recap!

Crunchy roll sushi is a unique version of the classic California roll that we all know and love. It features maki sushi, otherwise known as rolled sushi, made with crispy shrimp tempura or imitation crab and avocado.

The inside-out roll features rice outside and a crunchy topping of toasted panko breadcrumbs that sets it apart from other Sushi dishes! It's a delicious delicacy and one that needs to be tried!

Now that we have covered the crunchy roll let’s look at what we need and how to make it! 

What do I need for my crunchy roll sushi?

To make your crunchy roll sushi, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup of Sushi rice - high-quality short-grain Japanese sushi rice for the best results! You can purchase this online or at the Asian aisle in your supermarket.
  • 1 ½ cup of water
  • Two tablespoons Sushi vinegar - you can purchase this ready-made, or make your own by combining rice vinegar, sugar, and salt (1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and ½ tablespoon of sugar is the best recipe).
  • Eight pre-cooked Shrimp tempura - you can use pre-made shrimp to save time. You can make it at home or substitute imitation crab if you wish. The choice is yours! 
  • 1 Avocado - a ripe avocado is best that can be sliced through with a knife easily.
  • Two nori/seaweed sheets - you can purchase nori from the Asian aisle in your supermarket too.
  • One cup of Panko breadcrumbs - these breadcrumbs add the crunch to your sushi roll. Panko breadcrumbs are the best to use here, although you can use any bread crumbs you want.
  • Two teaspoons of olive oil - you will need the oil to fry the breadcrumbs to make them extra crispy! You can swap the olive oil for canola, vegetable, sunflower, or any that you have to hand.

Once you have these ingredients, you can get started on your crunchy sushi roll! As you can see, you can make substitutions if needed to suit your tastes and what's in your kitchen.

How to Make Tempura California Roll

Let’s get into why you came here today, to learn how to make your crunchy sushi roll! Follow the step-by-step instructions below to make the delicious sushi roll.

1. Cook the Rice

To begin, we need to cook the sushi rice. Rinse your sushi rice first before adding it with water to the rice cooker. Follow your cooker and rice packet instructions to cook the rice (some have slightly different variations).

Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl for it to cool. You want it to be quite warm when you add your sushi vinegar to the rice. Make sure to mix it gently to avoid rice flying everywhere! 

2. Cook the shrimp tempura

If you are using premade frozen shrimp, you will first need to cook it before making your sushi. Bake them at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for between 10 to 15 minutes.

Depending on the size of your shrimp, you might need to bake them for slightly longer.

If you are using fresh shrimp, cook the shrimp following the cooking instructions on the packet or ask your local fishmonger for instructions. For an easy cooking time, we recommend using premade shrimp!

3. Crunchy topping time!

Next, it's time to add the crunchy panko bread crumb topping! This is pretty easy to do. Take your olive oil and add it to a large skillet on medium heat. Pour your panko bread crumbs in and mix them with the oil. Next, cook for a few minutes. 

You want the panko to turn golden brown. Be sure to stir the breadcrumbs constantly to avoid them burning or sticking to the pan. Once these are cooked, set them aside and allow them to cool down.

4. Make the crunchy rolls!

Now it's time to make your rolls. Start by cutting your nori sheet in half with some scissors.

Take your bamboo mat and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap on top. The wrap will stop the rice from sticking to the bamboo and make rolling your rolls easier!

Take half a nori piece and place it on top of the bamboo mat, with the shiny side facing down. Then, take ¾ cup of cooked rice, and spread it evenly over the nori sheet.

Use your fingers to spread the rice. If you find the rice is sticking to your fingers, dip them in some vinegar water and handle the rice again. You should notice that the rice doesn’t stick to your fingers now.

You will then need to flip everything, so the rice is facing down. The rice will now be on the outside of the roll. This can be a little tricky, so take your time! Once flipped, place your shrimp and avocado on top of the nori.

Add two to three pieces of shrimp to the roll and two slices of avocado to the roll.

You can mash or slice your avocado for this; the choice is yours. We prefer mashed avocado as we think it's slightly easier to work with and spreads nicely when rolling. 

Some people prefer sliced avocado as the slices tend to stay in place, but the choice is yours!

Next, place your thumbs underneath the bamboo mat and lift the edge up and over the filling.

Here comes the fun part! Roll the bamboo mat away from you and apply some pressure. The pressure will tighten the roll-up and ensure everything stays inside; you don’t want a wrap that falls apart, do you?

Continue to roll the wrap until the ends meet. Peel off the plastic wrap and set the rolls aside. 

5. Assemble your sushi!

We are almost at the end! Take your panko breadcrumbs that have been cooling and spoon them on top of your sushi roll.

Place a new piece of plastic wrap on top and cover it with the sushi mat. Squeeze gently to shape the bread crumbs around the roll; this allows you to get more crumbs all over the roll!

Once done, remove the mat from the roll while keeping the plastic wrap on. Slice the roll into bite-size pieces using a sharp knife.

Remove the plastic wrap and drizzle with a sauce of your choosing. Unagi sauce or mayo works well.

Serve immediately and enjoy! 

Top Tips

You didn’t think we would let you go without imparting some of our wisdom, did you? We’ve got some top tips here for you that will make your crunchy sushi roll the best and make it even easier!

  1. Dip your hands in some Tezu water (essentially water and vinegar) to prevent the rice from sticking to your fingers. It's best to do this while flipping the roll and rolling it.
  2. Squeeze the rice and filling while rolling to avoid the roll falling apart as you roll it. Once you finish rolling, give the roll another gentle squeeze to ensure it's all in place.
  3. Ensure that your panko bread crumbs have cooled down before adding them to the sushi. The hot and cold temperatures don’t always mix well and can leave you with a messy roll!

Following these tips can help make the roll-making process run smoothly and avoid any kitchen meltdowns!

Providing nothing is too hot, you can even get children involved to help make the rolls! Be sure to keep all hot pans and sharp knives out of reach if you do this.

Topping Time!

As we have mentioned, the toasted panko breadcrumbs top this roll for a delicious taste and crunchy texture!

Be sure to gently toast them to avoid burning the breadcrumbs and remove them from the heat when they are crispy enough for you.

Some people don’t like them too crunchy, so be sure to make them to your liking. We think the crunchier, the better here!

The breadcrumbs must be cool before you apply them to your roll. Not only does this prevent you from burning your hands, but it ensures that everything rolls together perfectly.

You don’t want to add hot breadcrumbs to your cold rice and watch the roll fall apart, do you?

Cover your sushi with plastic wrap and the bamboo mat on top to gently shape the layer of breadcrumbs over the roll.

Shaping it this way gets the breadcrumbs over more of the roll and leaves each bite with a delicious and crunchy texture!

Sushi Roll Variations

As we mentioned earlier, the crunchy sushi roll is a variation of the classic California roll.

The addition of shrimp and crispy toasted panko breadcrumbs sets it apart from other sushi rolls. Before you leave us today, let's take a look at some other tasty variations you can make!

Spicy California Roll

If you like some heat and spice in your life, then try the spicy California roll!

Add some spicy mayo to the roll and feel the heat! You can make the spicy mayo yourself, combining one tablespoon of Sriracha sauce with two tablespoons of mayonnaise and mix them well. 

Take the mayo and apply it to your shrimp tempura or imitation crab before rolling your sushi.

Fried California Roll

This variation calls for you to gently fry your sushi roll to create an extra crispy outside!

Dip the prepared sushi roll (before cutting it) into a mixture of whisked egg, sriracha, and soy sauce. Take your wet roll and roll it in some panko breadcrumbs.

Next, heat two inches of oil in a skillet to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and fry the roll for 2-3 minutes. This allows for the outside of the roll to get nice and crispy without cooking the roll itself.

After the time has passed, transfer your roll to a cooling rack to drain the excess oil.

Before you slice the roll, dip a sharp knife into sushi vinegar to prevent the rice or any ingredients from sticking to the knife as you slice.

Boston Roll

The Boston roll features poached shrimp compared to the tempura shrimp we have used in today's recipe.

The jumbo shrimp is gently poached in seasoned water to create a tender and flavorful shrimp.

Season your water with salt, lemon juice, and parsley for a delicious piece of fish! Serve with avocado and strips of crunchy cucumber for plenty of taste and texture!

Final Word

And just like that, we have reached the end of our sushi journey today!! As you can see, the delicious crunchy roll is easy to make and will leave you craving toasted panko bread crumbs every day!

Why not try one of the variations we have suggested and expand your sushi repertoire today?