Cobb Salad & California Rolls: Recipes and Cultural Relevance

Cobb Salad & California Rolls: Recipes and Cultural Relevance

As the famous Andrew Zimmern once said, “the common food of a country or a town defines a huge part of its overall culture.” This pays homage to how Sicilians highly value artichokes, and how Filipinos prefer to practically pair any food with rice. There’s so much to be said for the amount of diversity in cultural cuisine.

Labeled California avocados.

Meanwhile, California is considered the “salad bowl” of the United States for various reasons. The cuisine of California is characterized by fresh produce and fusions, from the fertile Salinas Valley, to the wine countries across the state, and the vast diversity of urban areas like Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The health-conscious culture paired with the abundance of local produce has led the way to some modern and creative kinds of cuisine.

Before it was a concrete jungle, California was initially the health-first town. Modern takes on ethnic foods from countries around the world were modified to fit local tastes, evolving throughout the years, especially after immigrants surged to the state.

So the next time you are on the road bound for California, choose among the most ethnic-centered Vernon hotels, stay in for a while, and treat your taste buds with the classic tangy-taste of the original ranch dressing or some tasty California rolls.

Here are some recipes to make your taste buds dance.

The California Cobb Salad

Invented in Hollywood, California back in the 1930s, Cobb salads are staple food choices by the locals. Cobb salad is a dinner salad made from “as many as you can” – flavorful ingredients.

A California cobb salad.

The origin of the original ingredients for the Cobb salad is not known for certain, but its name came from Robert H. Cobb, the pioneer of Brown Derby restaurant chains in the USA. This is where the dish was first served.

Cobb salad is composed primary of iceberg lettuce, romaine, tomatoes, bacon, roasted chicken, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, chives, and roquefort cheese. The ingredients are then all chopped and tossed with French dressing, a mixture of red wine vinegar, lemon, mustard, oil, and Worcestershire sauce. The many ingredients of this salad are often formed into ornate displays before serving, showing off the contrasting colors, shapes, and textures to excite palettes.

A woman preparing a cobb salad.

Classic Cobb Salad Recipe

~ Serves 6 ~

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head of romaine, rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 head of Boston lettuce, rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine (about 4 cups)
  • 1 small bunch of curly endive, rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 bunch of watercress, coarse stems discarded and the watercress rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine (about 2 cups)
  • 6 slices of lean bacon, finely chopped
  • 3 ripe avocados (tip – use an authentic California avocado!) skinned and pit discarded
  • 2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds total), halved, cooked, and diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 hard-boiled large egg, separated, the yolk grated fine and the white grated fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Roquefort

DIRECTIONS:

  1.   In a large salad bowl, toss together the Romaine, the Boston lettuce, the curly endive, and the watercress.
  2.   Cook the bacon over moderate heat in a skillet until crisp.
  3.   Prepare the avocados by cutting them into halves then slice them into 1/2-inch pieces.
  4.   Arrange the chicken, the bacon, the tomato, and the avocado decoratively over the greens and garnish the salad with the grated egg and the chives.
  5.   In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, the mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Then, add the oil in a slow stream, whisking the mixture until the whole dressing is emulsified. Stir in the Roquefort. Continuously whisk the dressing then pour over the salad. Toss well.

California Roll Recipe

The California roll is easily the most famous of California’s cuisine, and it speaks a lot about how the state is open to accepting foreign influence. This dish tells tons of stories about the combination of the Japanese and the Californian culture.

Most importantly, it’s healthy. And delicious.

california roll

A sushi roll consisting of crab meat, cucumber, rice and seaweed, it is fused with the essential taste of California – the avocado. The roll has helped make sushi more appealing and “edible” to Californians (and Americans, in general) who have reservations on trying sushi for the first time. Given this, the roll is made inside-out, that is, the rice is outside the seaweed called nori because the American taste buds were not ready to take that culinary leap at the time.

To experience the1960-born experimental fusion of both traditional Japanese and California ingredients, you can follow this recipe:

hand roll

For the sushi core filling:

  • 1/2 lb crab meat
  • 1 Avocado, ripe but still firm
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into long julienne strips
  • Toasted Nori Seaweed
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For the rice:
  • 2 cups Japanese short or medium grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water
  • 5 Tbsp Sushi Vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt

Preparing the rice:

  1. Wash the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well.

For stove top method:

  1. Put drained rice in a heavy sauce-pan and add 2 cups cold water. Add in sushi vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar and salt into the rice mixture.
  2. Cover tightly, set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium and let the rice cook or until all the water is absorbed (7-8 min).
  3. Do not remove the cover to check. Instead listen for the bubbling to stop.
  4. Once you hear a faint hissing sound, reduce the heat to very low and cook for another 6 min. Remove from the heat, and let it stand for more 15min covered.

Using a rice cooker:

  1. Follow the suggested cooking instructions of the rice
  2. Include the sushi vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar and salt when adding the water to the raw rice.
  1. Once the rice is cooked, transfer the hot rice to a large bowl.
  2. Let the rice cool down just a little. tt should still be warm when made into a roll.

Now, to make the rolls:

  1. Fold the nori sheets in half and cut them into two equal parts.
  2. Toast your sesame seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden.
  3. Dice up the avocados, cucumber and crab meat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. With damp fingers, spread a generous handful of sushi rice onto the 1/2 sheet of nori.
  5. Flip the rice covered piece of nori over so that the rice side is facing down the sushi rolling mat. Place your filling along the length of your nori.
  6. Start rolling the spread, applying pressure as you go along to make a tight roll. Rolling it tighter makes the sushi easier to slice.
  7. Once the roll is complete, sprinkle the roll with toasted sesame seeds while it is still on the mat so you can turn it easily.
  8. Run your sharp knife through a damp paper towel before slicing so the rice would not stick as much. Cut the roll in half, then line the two halves up and slice into even 1-inch rings.
  9. Serve with soy sauce with wasabi paste or powder.

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