Taste the Rainbow

On paper, one year appears laughably brief.

365 days out of a lifetime is but a flash in the pan, a blip on the radar.

Taken into the context of history, millennia in the making, it’s not even worth mentioning. Time continues slipping through our fingers unimpeded even as we speak, turning the most recent set of months into a shockingly short memory. It feels like no time has elapsed at all since I officially set down roots here on the west coast, and yet my calendar tells me that I’ve reached this first milestone, seemingly out of the blue.

Though many more months and a string of variably sketchy apartments in the bay area preceded this count, it’s been one full year that I’ve been parked in the same place, calling the address my own. You know it’s official when you finally set up shop and invest in a stand mixer, after all. Home is where the heavy kitchen equipment is.

While I felt it was essential to commemorate this first anniversary, it couldn’t be with any recipe that took itself too seriously.

That just wouldn’t do for the occasion, or for the place. No, I wanted to create something that spoke of San Francisco’s modern whimsy and free spirit; the place that I know, not the place it used to be.

California rolls are something I’ve wanted to make for a while.

With the name of the state built right in, the easy pun was irresistible. Though it’s likely that this American maki originated a bit further down south, with this contemporary reinterpretation, I do hereby propose that we of the bay area reclaim it as our own. To create something truly San Franciscan, nothing short of a rainbow would do.

“Traditional” crab filling is replaced by fishless shredded jackfruit, spiked with vegan fish sauce and a touch of sriracha, if you so desire. This unique, oceanic addition would normally be the big selling point for any sushi roll, but it’s clearly the colors surrounding it that steal the show. 100% natural hues are derived from plant-based sources that are probably sitting around in your pantry or fridge right now, to tint plain sushi rice and transform it into something truly special.

Cheers, San Francisco! Here’s to many more vibrant, colorful years together!

Yield: Makes 8 Servings

San Francisco, California Sushi Rolls

San Francisco, California Sushi Rolls

Finally, a rainbow roll that lives up to the name! 100% natural hues are derived from plant-based sources to transform plain sushi rice into something truly special. Traditional crab filling is replaced by fishless shredded jackfruit as a perfect ode to the quirky, compassionate Bay Area.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours 2 seconds
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes 2 seconds


Crabby Filling:

  • 16 Ounces Young Jackfruit
  • 2 Scallions, White Parts Only, Finely Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely Minced Roasted Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegan Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 2 Teaspoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Celery Seeds, Ground
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegan Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 - 1 Tablespoon Sriracha (Optional, for Spicy Rolls)

To Assemble:

  • 2 Ripe Avocados
  • 2 Persian Cucumbers, Thinly Sliced Lengthwise
  • 8 Sheets Roasted Nori
  • Additional Sriracha, if Desired

Rainbow Sushi Rice:

  • 2 Cups Sushi Rice
  • 2 1/4 Cups Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Mirin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Red: 1 Tablespoon Beet Juice
  • Orange: 1 Tablespoon Beet Juice, 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
  • Yellow: 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
  • Green: 1/2 Teaspoon Spirulina Powder
  • Blue + Purple: 1/3 Cup Diced Red Cabbage, 1/2 Cup Water, 1/8 Teaspoon Baking Soda (Divided)


  1. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but it’s really quite simple to create your very own sushi rainbows. Prepare the filling first so that it has time to sit and marinate. Shred and/or chop the jackfruit coarsely to break it up and approximate the texture of shredded crab. Add in all of the remaining ingredients and stir well. Cover, place in the fridge, and let sit for at least 1 – 3 hours for the flavors to fully meld. This can also be prepared well in advance; up to a week if stored in an air-tight container.
  2. The real fun comes with the rice. Rinse and thoroughly drain the rice, washing away the excess starch, before bringing the water to a boil. Add the rice, stir once to break up any clumps, and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for 14 – 18 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed. Mix together the vinegar, mirin, and salt in a separate container before pouring it into the hot rice, mixing thoroughly to incorporate. Keep the rice covered and let steam until fully cooked and tender.
  3. Allow the cooked rice to cool until you can comfortably handle it; about 30 minutes. Divide it equally into 7 bowls (yes, you’ll end up with a lot of dishes to wash, but it will be worth it!). Mix in the designated coloring agent for each individual hue, stirring until the grains are more or less evenly dyed. The only colors that aren’t entirely self explanatory are the blue and purple, which take a little bit more effort to extract. Combine the cabbage and water in a small saucepan and simmer, covered, for 10 – 15 minutes, until the water is a pleasing shade of purple. Strain out the actual cabbage pieces and use 2 – 3 teaspoons of the liquid to create your violet rice. To the remaining water, whisk in the baking soda, and watch the dye magically turn blue. Just as before, mix in 2 – 3 teaspoons to make the blue rice.
  4. Finally, to assemble, lay out thin strips of each colored rice on a sheet of nori in rainbow order, leaving about a 1 1/2-inch span of nori clean. Press down lightly to adhere and even out the lines. Top with the marinated crabby filling, thinly sliced cucumber, and plenty of avocado. If you really like it hot, go ahead and add an extra squirt of sriracha in, too.
  5. Carefully roll the whole bundle up as tightly as possible, pressing everything together gently but firmly as you go. Lightly moisten the clean strip of nori to seal the end.
  6. Slice into 6 – 8 pieces and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve with soy sauce for dipping and go ahead, taste the rainbow!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 549mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 5gSugar: 17gProtein: 5g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

26 thoughts on “Taste the Rainbow

      1. Be sure that I’ll hold you to that, Hannah. I met another blogging friend when we were there the last time as well as one of my cousins and it was a blast! I love the Ferry Building for sure. :-) So much good food there.

      2. Oh yes, the Ferry Building farmers market is my favorite place to be on any given Saturday, rain or shine (or fog.) I can’t claim to know all the best spots, but I’d sure love to show you around some of my favorites!

  1. These look scrumptious Ms Hannah. Perfect for our rampagingly rapidly approaching warmer months. I am clinging tenaciously to winter and all things “cold” but I can’t deny, these pique my interest. Going to save this for when I am sweltering out on the deck with a glass of beer mid January :)

  2. Currently in San Fran. I can see why you love it but the hills are killer. I’m going to make this when I get back home to the east coast. I’m planning to have dinner at Shizen tomorrow. Have you been back to Boston since the big leap to the left coast.

    1. Sadly, it’s been a very long time since I’ve been back out to Boston. It sounds like there are a whole lot of exciting new eateries popping up, so I’d sure love a trip back to check it out!

      Hope you have a great time at Shizen. The special sushi rolls are gorgeous, but the ramen is really the thing to order, if you ask me.

  3. You’re having way too much fun with your food! Such pretty sushi — love it. Now that you’re officially planted on the West Coast, maybe it’s time to reclaim your Instant Pot. :D

  4. […] Taste the rainbow in these multi-colored rolls that serve as a variation on the classic California roll. Blogger (and VegNews contributor) Hannah Kaminsky replaces crab with jackfruit and naturally “dyes” sushi rice with beet juice, turmeric, spirulina powder, and cabbage water for a roll that is as stunning to look at as it is delicious to taste.Get the recipe […]

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