Kids love to cook and the easiest way to get your child to try new foods is to involve them in making interesting things to eat.
The joy of making sushi with kids is that it’s really hands on – there’s cooking, chopping, mixing, stuffing, rolling and a range of fun foody skills involved with healthy and delicious results. If you are new to cooking sushi, there are sushi making kits available with everything you need to make step-by-step superb sushi but here are a few of the main elements.
Fluffy, sticky rice is the basis for all sushi rolls and nigiri. Whether you are using a rice cooker or making it on the hob, make sure you buy proper sushi rice and follow the instructions on the packet. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes to cook.
Once the rice is done, transfer it to a wooden bowl known as a hangiri (though any wide and flat bottomed bowl, pan or dish will do) and spread it out to cool with a wooden spoon or paddle.
Sushi rice is dressed with good quality rice vinegar or rice seasoning to give it a sweet and tangy flavour. Use the paddle to mix this in with a slicing motion and then cover the rice with a damp cloth to keep it moist until you are ready to roll.
Some people are put off giving sushi to kids because they associate it with raw fish. Sashimi is a small and specialist part of sushi cuisine and there are endless tasty fillings and flavours for your maki rolls.
Here are a few ideas:
- Cook and shred some chicken breast and mix it with a tangy Japanese mayonnaise
- Marinade some beef or salmon in a teriyaki marinade for 30 minutes, cook and chop into small pieces
- Use tinned fish such as tuna, salmon or mackerel
- Cook a plain omelette and slice it up
- Chop thin slices of avocado, carrots, cucumber, peppers or spring onions and use them on their own or with any combination of the fish and meat above.
Depending on the age of your child, you may have to do the chopping yourself but choosing the fillings and combinations can be just as fun. When you have decided what kind of maki rolls you want to make, lay all your prepared ingredients out on a chopping board so you can pick and choose as you roll up your sushi.
This is the fun bit whether you use a bamboo or silicone rolling mat or a sushi rolling machine. Lay out a sheet of nori seaweed and a thin layer of rice on top and lay out your filling in a strip across the middle. Then you are ready to roll up your sushi. There are lots of ways to make rolls including with the rice on the outside of the seaweed and it is easy to get the hang of it.
Once the rolls are done they will need to be sliced to an inch or so thick using a sharp knife to make sure they hold their form, which may not be a job for the little ones.
Sushi is not only fun to make with kids, it is fun to eat too. Dipping each delicious sushi roll into little dishes of tasty soy sauce or sesame sprinkles, adding a bit of pickled ginger (maybe not wasabi unless you have a particularly brave child) and pushing the sticky, tasty parcels of rice, seaweed and vegetables into your mouth is the real treat of all that preparation and cooking.
Everyone has different tastes and favourite foods but learning to enjoy cooking and trying new things at a young age is the ideal way to open your child’s mind to a range of exciting culinary experiences later in life. Itadakimasu – Happy Eating!