California Roll Salad with Farro and Pearl Couscous. Like the California sushi roll but in salad form with farro and couscous in place of the traditional sticky rice. This salad is so GOOD.
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This California roll salad is a few years in the making. I first had it from a small poke shop on the Big Island of Hawaii years ago. One of those amazingly fresh little hole in the wall shops that you have to go to when visiting there. Da Poke Shack.
They had poke plates of one to two kinds of poke and one to two sides. Or more of each if you were really hungry. They also had other plates such as kalua pork or lau lau. So yum. And now when I get a craving for this salad, I can whip it up at home. Cheaper than a ticket to Hawaii just for the salad.
- Imitation crab - You can use real crab here if you like, I went with a high quality imitation crab which flakes really nicely for this salad. Most California rolls use imitation crab as it is so this is why I went with it.
- Farro - a rich, nutty grain. Adds a really nice flavor along with a little crunch and texture to the salad
- Pearl couscous ( also known as Israeli couscous) - a little round pasta that has a nice chew to it. I love using this kind of couscous in many recipes. It is fantastic in this salad
- Vegetables - carrot, cucumber, sweet onion, green onion. Carrot isn't usually used in a California sushi roll, but it was in the salad from the poke shop and I loved the taste and texture it added. Same with the sweet onion and green onions.
- Furikake - a Japanese seaweed seasoning with sesame seeds. I use it on everything from rice to popcorn to salads.
- Avocado - a must have with anything California roll. I used two Haas avocados from Rincon Tropics. The BEST avocados ever.
- Dressing - I made a super light dressing out of soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin ( a Japanese cooking win) and a little sugar. Its perfect for this salad and adds in the seasoning usually found in sushi rice.
- Kewpie mayonnaise - some California sushi rolls have either a solid piece of crab or it is shredded in a mayonnaise based dressing. The crab gets mixed with this before being added to the salad.
See recipe for exact amounts.
How do you make California roll salad?
- I start by rinsing and soaking the farro. It then gets cooked, it takes about 30 minutes to cook in lightly boiling water. I get this going while I prep the rest of the ingredients. You can always prep and cook the farro the day before assembling the salad since it needs to be cooled before adding the rest of the salad ingredients.
- The couscous doesn't take as long to cook, it doesn't require rinsing, so I will make this the same day as the salad. Allowing it to cool completely as well.
- I love love love my julienne peeler. Its one of my nifty relatively inexpensive kitchen tools that I use to shred veggies quickly for salads. You can also use a box grater if you don't have a julienne peeler. I much prefer the peeler since it is quicker and I like the size of the veggie shreds.
- I will roughly chop the onion then finely chop using a mini food processor. You can also use a box grater for this step as you want really finely minced onion with its juices. This enhances the flavor and texture of the salad.
- The dressing ingredients get whisked together, the crab gets finely shredded and mixed with the kewpie mayo.
- Once the farro and couscous are cooled, all the veggies are prepped you mix it all together in a large mixing bowl. Save the avocado until just before serving.
Make some items ahead of time:
Since this is a chilled salad, you can make the farro and couscous ahead of time as well as the dressing. Keep chilled in appropriate airtight containers until ready to assemble the salad.
Right before serving I will dice up the avocado and mix it in. This way the avocado stays super fresh. I also use avocado that are more on the firm side of ripe so they don't mush when the salad is mixed.
This salad is amazing on its own or as a side for anything really from poke to any kind of baked or grilled fish, it would be excellent served with salmon.
This California roll salad keeps well in an airtight container up to a week in the refrigerator. The avocado will brown, since that is what it does once cut. You can always leave the avocado out and only add it to individual servings if you like.
More salads to try:
California Roll Salad with Farro and Pearl Couscous Recipe
For the salad
- 208 g dry farro (1 cup) * see notes
- 150 g dry Israeli couscous (1 cup) *see notes
- 150 g Carrot, finely shredded (1 cup)
- 133 g Japanese or Persian cucumber, peeled and finely shredded (1 cup)
- 26 g Sweet onion, about half a medium, finely minced (½ cup)
- 1 bunch scallions, about 10-12 onions, light and dark green parts only, finely chopped
- 226 g Imitation crab ½ pound
- 2 Tablespoons Kewpie mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons Japanese Furikake
- 2 medium Haas avocados, 453 grams (about 1 pound)
- 57 g rice vinegar, not sweetened (¼ cup)
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon Mirin, Japanese cooking rice wine - not sake
Cook farro and couscous to package directions for whatever brand you use. I used Bob’s Redmill and these are the instructions for theirs:
- Rinse and soak the farro. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil with a pinch of kosher salt. Add the farro and bring back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and rinse with cool water, set aside to cool completely.
- For the couscous, heat one tablespoon of oil or ghee in a saucepan and add the couscous and stir for one minute. Add one and a half cups of boiling water and bring to a boil, lower the heat and place a lid on the pan. Cook for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir and let cool completely, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking.
- Peel and shred the carrots and cucumber. Mince the onion in a food processor or shred using a box grater. Finely dice the dark and light green parts of the green onion.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the cooked and cooled farro, couscous with the carrot, cucumber, sweet onion and most of the green onion, saving some green onion for garnish.
- Add In the furikake and stir.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients and add that to the salad and mix.
- Shred the crab and mix with the Kewpie mayo then add to the salad and mix.
- Keep chilled until ready to serve. When ready to serve, cut two avocados in half, remove the pits and skin. Finely dice then add to the salad. Serve.