The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Sayonara! Kids Make Sushi Rolls

May 4th, 2013 · 3 Comments · Posted in kids, Recipes

Perfect sushi: do try this at home

After four years of travels, our round-the-world culinary tour finally came to a close this week in Japan. The kids in my food appreciation classes have since the very beginning it seems been begging to make sushi. So here we are. And guess what? It’s not that hard and the payoff in happy faces is huge.

All you need is the right equipment.

Fortunately, we have a little Japanese market in our neighborhood here in the District of Columbia. I told the woman in charge what we were up to, and she helped me collect everything we needed.

First, there’s the matter of a small bamboo mat for rolling the sushi–in this case, classic California rolls stuffed with avocado, cucumber and “crab” meat. (Quotations because what looks and tastes like crab is actually pollock fish from Alaska flavored to taste like crab and extruded with a bunch of other ingredients.)

The bamboo mat only costs $2. What a bargain! Then there was the matter of a 1-pound bag of sushi rice, which is quick-cooking and extremely sticky. And you will need sheets of nori, or processed seaweed pressed into very thin squares.

Using bamboo matt to form a sushi coll

To start, wrap your mat in plastic wrap. This prevents the rice from sticking. Next, cook your rice according to manufacturer’s instructions. (One cup dry rice should make at least three rolls). Watch the rice carefully and stir if necessary so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan. While the cooked rice is still warm, season it with rice vinegar, salt and perhaps a bit of sweet mirin if you have some. If you prefer other seasonings, by all means use them.

Meanwhile, prepare your stuffing. Peel 1/2 avocado and slice into thin wedges. Trim away the curved ends. Thinly slice a seedless cucumber into 3-inch batons. Split lengths of “crab” in two lengthwise. (The “crab” typically is packaged in short, thick batons, sold frozen.)

To roll the sushi, lay one sheet of nori on the plastic-wrapped bamboo mat. Press a layer of rice onto the seaweed, occasionally dipping your fingers into a bowl of water to prevent sticking. Leave about 1 inch of seaweed uncovered at the far edge. This you will eventually moisten with water to form a seal–like licking an envelope.

Once the rice is applied, place lengths of “crab,” cucumber and avocado end-to-end near the leading edge of the roll. Now lift the edge of the mat up and over to form a log shape. Press the log firmly together with your hands on the back of the mat. Continue lifting and pulling the mat forward until the moistened edge of the seaweed has been reached. Continue pressing the log together.

Use a sharp knife to slice the rolls

Now you can pull the mat away and place the sushi roll on a flat cutting surface. Moisten a very sharp knife to slice the roll into pieces about 3/4-inch thick. We found that our Japanese steak knives with a bit of serration  on the cutting edge work best for this. You don’t want to press the stuffing out of the roll. Keep the knife moistened between slices.

Serve the sliced California roll with spicy wasabi paste (like horseradish, only green) and pickled ginger, both available in Asian markets. The kids pretended to blow their stacks after trying the wasabi. Be adivsed: It will clean our your sinuses if you eat a lot. Ini this case, a little dab will do ya’. Just about everyone loves the sweet, tangy flavor of pickled ginger.

The kids were wild for this lesson, a perfect note on which to end our world culinary tour and my seven-year tenure presiding over these classes.

Yes, it’s true. I am moving on. My wife and I recently purchased a farm property in Upstate New York where we hope to raise sheep, cattle, chicken, pigs and maybe a dairy cow or two. We are thrilled, sad and terrified all at once over this new chapter we are beginning. I will write more about it anon.

Soyanara! Goodbye, kids!


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