I have made sushi a total of two times in my life. And by made I mean someone else cooked/cut/prepared everything and I rolled up a bunch of colorful stuff, dipped it in wasabi soy and ate it. One of those two times was at a surprise birthday party my best friend planned for me and the other time was at my friend Todd’s house. Even after both experiences, I was useless in remembering how it was done. Kind of like singing a song with no music. Once the radio is up and the lyrics get going, I’m all “shooooot, I got this!” but if I’m flying solo it’s like watching one of those awful auditions on American Idol. So when planning for June’s Celebrating Life post, I skimmed right past National Donut Day and National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (to my children’s dismay) and landed happily on June 18: International Sushi Day. If my past behavior was any indication, I knew the day would end in a shark-like feeding frenzy and I would soon forget all the steps…again. Luckily, this time I came armed with two things that rarely let me forget anything: my camera and my children.
My friend Hannah, being the patient, child-loving, occasional sailor-mouthed, teacher and friend that she is, offered to make sushi with us. She collected all the ingredients from various cabinets and assigned jobs to each of my children. My daughter was in a bit of a funk (she doesn’t like sushi…or much of anything for that matter) but when Hannah put a sharp, “dangerous” kitchen tool (aka the vegetable peeler) in her hand, she perked up for a moment and focused on her task. Meanwhile, my son did some chopping and peeling and Hannah brought the rice over for a taste test.
Everyone helped prep the ingredients for our rolls: rice, cucumber, crabstick, roe, avocado, nori, wasabi, salmon and shrimp. Hannah explained how in Korea sushi is called kimbap (or gimbap). From what I understand, kimbap is similar to the sushi we made except larger and not always filled with seafood…sort of like the Korean version of a sandwich. You can switch up the filling (seasoned veggies, beef, chicken, tuna, etc) in the same way we could switch up a sandwich: a turkey sandwich or a pb&j or a rueben. She also told us about her upcoming trip to visit family in Seoul, Korea. Her husband has never been before so she has Post-it notes placed around the house with both the English and Korean version of everyday items like “plate”, “bowl”, “towel”, “bathroom”. I was glad to hear this because after seeing the notes in the bathroom, I assumed she was just leaving little works of art everywhere…I mean, it wouldn’t really surprise me.
After Hannah’s sushi-rollin’ tutorial and our first round of food-crushing silence, the kids were eager to give it a whirl. It didn’t take long for them to realize that it wasn’t quite as easy as her experienced hands made it look. But Hannah helped and before long we had a table full of sushi to consume. We ate and talked and laughed…and laughed at Hannah’s laugh. It’s so contagious! I believe my son is her #1 fan.
Once the sushi mess was under control and we all had Garfield belly, it was time for dessert and another lesson in Korean cuisine. The golden melon she peeled and chopped is called Chameh. It’s a Korean melon that I would describe as a cross between cantaloupe and watermelon, but sweeter. We all tried it but I was full to my collarbone with sushi so I didn’t have much room to thoroughly examine it’s taste complexity. However, I did some searching and found a tempting popsicle recipe using chameh. If the use of Papyrus font is too much for you, try this recipe instead. I’m not judging.
A lot of the sushi ingredients we used here were purchased at Friendly City Food Co-op and Food Maxx. If you can’t make your own sushi today, go support your favorite sushi spot! If you’re local, you’re in luck! You can devour some excellent rolls at Sushi Jako, Oriental Cafe, Beyond and Kyoto. And if you’ve never tried sushi before, it’s a good day to be adventurous. Happy International Sushi Day!!