Alaska rolls: What you should know before ordering

If you're thinking of getting an Alaska roll the next time you order sushi at a restaurant, there are two major things to know: One is that there isn't really a set-in-stone version of what an Alaska roll looks like, and two is that, in spite of that, nearly all versions you'll find include salmon.

Oftentimes, an Alaska roll can be as simple as a California roll that has salmon on top of it (via Nagoya). A California roll, at its simplest, is a roll made with sushi rice, dried seaweed, avocado, crab, and possibly cucumber or radish, according to the Smithsonian. It's made "inside-out," meaning that the rice is rolled on the outside of the seaweed.

But other versions of Alaska rolls offer unique variations on a simple salmon-topped California roll. You might see an Alaska roll described as an inside-out roll stuffed with salmon and avocado, rolled in panko bread crumbs, and deep-fried (via Sushi Sushi). Or you might see it presented as a regular maki roll (that's the kind with rice on the inside) that's stuffed with smoked salmon, crab, and avocado (via Sushi Sama).

Unlike the California roll, which we know was invented by sushi chef Hidekazu Tojo at his Vancouver restaurant in the 1970s as a way to get Westerners to eat sushi, the Alaska roll seems to have a less clear origin.

Unclear beginnings aside, we can all agree that just about any combination of salmon, crab, rice, and avocado is delicious. But if you want to have the best Alaska roll experience, we do have a few recommendations. Whether you're making it for yourself or dining out, try to find salmon that's sustainably fished (via Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch); Coho and Chinook salmon are prized for their texture and flavor (via Smithsonian). Frozen-at-Sea (FAS) fish is often the freshest option, but if you're buying non-frozen salmon, it should have a firm, dense texture and shouldn't have an overpowering "fishy" smell (via Cooking Light).

If you are ordering or making Alaska rolls that contains crab, skip the imitation stuff in favor of pot-caught Alaskan King Crab, a delicious and sustainable choice (via Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch).

Last but not least? Once you're ready to dive in, make sure that you're not actually eating your sushi all wrong. Dipping your Alaska roll in a muddy mixture of soy sauce and wasabi will just drown out the delicate flavor of the salmon and crab you worked so hard to procure.