Sushi with a six year old

When my girls were younger, they always wanted to help me with dinner which – if you’ve ever cooked with young children you know – is really no help at all. But they enjoyed it and I thought it was a good way to get them interested in different kinds of foods and how to prepare them so I tried to indulge them as much as I could manage.

Lately though, whenever I ask, “who wants to help with dinner?” I get a rousing chorus of, “not me!” I still think it’s important for kids to learn about food and cooking so last night at dinner I announced that the oldest would be helping me with dinner tonight. She didn’t seem thrilled but I told her we could make whatever she wanted and she could help me make the list and shop. She wasn’t thrilled about the shopping part – which she ended up dodging anyway – but the rest of it got her on board. We decided to make sushi which was probably super ambitious but it’s one of her favorites and I figured that would keep her interested.

I’ve made sushi exactly once before so I wasn’t going in completely blind but I knew it would be a bit of an experiment.

We decided to make California rolls, shrimp rolls and kiddo rolls which were my oldest’s invention and included imitation crab, carrot and cucumber. I think. It all kind of ran together after a while.

We learned a LOT while making our sushi. Things like:

  • Wet fingers work best with sticky rice.
  • Plastic wrap can be substituted for a bamboo mat but if you have to resort to press n seal, make sure the ‘sticky’ side is down, not sticking to your sushi.
  • Plastic wrap or a rolling mat is necessary. I am nowhere near skilled enough to roll sushi without it. Can that even be done?
  • I still can’t make rice without burning it.
  • Little. Make your filling little. I think 6 of my 8 rolls didn’t seal because we stuffed them too full.
  • Sushi takes a lllooooonnnnnggggg time to make but it’s worth it.

Wanna know exactly how we did it? Read on!

We made our shopping list last night since the kiddo was going to be selling Girl Scout cookies today at our local grocery store. In order to save time, I shopped while she sold and she was glad to miss out on her least favorite pastime. I found everything I needed for our sushi – nori, wasabi, pickled ginger, sushi rice, avocado, etc – at the store which was nice because the last time I made sushi, I had trouble finding even the rice. That should tell you how long it’s been since that first time.

Kiddo and I made the rice (following this recipe) around 4 so that it would have time to cool before we needed it. As I mentioned above, I burnt the rice. I always burn the rice. You would think I’d be able to figure this out somehow but no. Fortunately, it wasn’t dark black burnt, just golden brown burnt and I was able to salvage the top portion of the rice.

IMG_7288We mixed in the sushi vinegar as the recipe called for and spread the rice out on a cookie sheet to cool in the fridge. While the rice cooled, I prepped our sushi fixins. We had imitation crab, shrimp, cucumber, avocado, carrots, and Mommy’s spicy mix which consisted of chopped crab, a touch of mayo, Thai red chili sauce and a dash of sesame oil. We tried rolls with rice both on the inside and outside of the nori. I can’t say one was easier than the other because they were both pretty difficult for me to roll. The rice on the outside rolls used up more rice so as we got closer to the end and I got tired of working, we made more with the rice on the outside.

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Making sushi is actually pretty simple in theory. We started by breaking our nori sheets in half long ways so we had long rectangles. For the rice outside rolls, we pressed our rice out onto our plastic wrap (remember, wet fingers work best!) in the general shape of our half sheets of nori. We put the nori (shiny side down) on top of the rice and pressed it down so it would stick. For the rice inside, we did the opposite; nori down first and rice on top. You want to make sure you have an even layer of rice so you get even coverage in/on your roll. Now it was time to ‘decorate’ our sushi. This is where we got to have fun. Although we had decided on three rolls to begin with, we ended up experimenting with different combinations after the first few.

IMG_7294As I said before, you want to make sure you have very little filling in your rolls. A quarter of a crab stick, a slice of cucumber and a sliver of avocado won’t look like much running down the middle of your rice or nori but once you go to roll it, you may be surprised by how quickly you run out of real estate. After your filling is added, it’s time to get rolling. Start by lifting up the edge of the plastic wrap closest to you and roll the long edge of the nori away from you. This is where I had trouble and I’ll need to do some YouTube researching before we make sushi again. I basically just rolled the sushi over to the other side and prayed it stayed together. Mostly it didn’t. The key, I think, is to pull them tightly together. I managed that on a few but not the majority. I let the rolls sit for a few minutes while I made a salad and the rest seemed to do them good. While they may not have been totally sealed, they didn’t totally fall apart either. A wet steak knife (keep a pint glass of water nearby) made cutting fairly easy and before I knew it, we had full plates of sushi. They certainly wouldn’t have made the cover of any food magazines but they tasted really good! The spicy roll was my favorite and I wish I would have made more of them.

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No awards for presentation here but nom, nom, nom!
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Sushi with a six year old

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