This week our family is traveling the world from the comfort of home. We are sharing stories, recipes, and resources in case you would like to join us and explore a country and culture along with us. The goal is simply to make memories and explore the world through food, books, music, and movies. You have freedom to make this experience your own!
Our New Year’s Eve this year looked a little bit different than in past years. We usually host a big New Year’s Eve party with gobs of food and friends or drive down to my brother’s house and have a party with cousins. This year we chose to stay home due to the pandemic.
We wanted to do something fun and different to pass the time until midnight. We decided to try out one of my oldest daughter’s Christmas gifts – a sushi-making kit.
My girl is a big fan of sushi. In recent years, we have frequented different sushi restaurants as a family for special occasions. One of our favorite local places is called Butterfish that serves up build-your-own poké bowls. Think deconstructed sushi in a bowl.
But we’ve never made our own sushi.
Honestly, it felt a little daunting. One of our favorite parts of eating at sushi restaurants is seeing the artful ways the sushi chefs display the rolls and the combinations of seafood, veggies, and sauces they employ.
Meilani made a list of necessary ingredients. I sent a few texts to my Auntie Doris, who is Japanese-American, and has some experience with sushi and Japanese foods. (When in doubt, phone an experienced friend or family member!)
Meilani put the sushi rice in our Instant Pot. We wanted to make sure it was cooked and cooled before assembling the rolls.
Meanwhile, we took a little field trip to R-N Market, our local Asian food market. We frequent this market often for ingredients for our favorite Filipino dishes, but this was our first time buying sushi grade fish. I was grateful for an experienced butcher to help us along. We decided to purchase some fresh salmon, avocados, cucumber, and pineapple for our first rolls.
We returned home with our bounty and set to work. I sliced the ingredients thinly while Meilani prepped the sheets of nori and sushi rice.
We started rolling.
The process of putting together the rolls was actually more fun than we anticipated. We got to choose the combinations and play with the colors. In Japanese culture, sushi is an art form. Appearance and taste are paramount, combining colors, flavors, and textures.
We are not experts, of course, but we watched some videos to help us and savored the outcome. I also made a grilled salmon dish with pineapple chunks. We put some shrimp tempura from Trader Joe’s in our air fryer, and the meal was complete.
Making sushi is not something I would attempt on a normal day or a school night, but this experience helped remind me that God’s glory is often discovered in the kitchen and through the exploration of culture through food. This is a value I long to instill in my daughters and embrace myself. We are each created in God’s image. We belong to each other. There is much we can learn from each other that will give us a fuller picture of our creative God.
Grilled Soy Ginger-glazed Salmon
2 tablespoons avocado oil (if using a grill pan or griddle)
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoons salt
4 (5-6 oz.) salmon filets
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 green onions, chopped
- Brush oil on grill or grill pan.
- Heat grill or grill pan.
- Whisk together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes.
- Sprinkle salmon filets with salt.
- Brush glaze on salmon filets.
- Reserve extra glaze for finished salmon.
- Grill approximately 5 minutes on each side. (You will begin to see the white fat push through the top or sides of the fish. Be careful not to overcook.)
- Transfer salmon to a plate and pour remaining glaze on top.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions on top.
- Serve with rice and other vegetables.
Ideas from our night in Japan:
- Order sushi from a local restaurant or try out some Japanese recipes.
Other Japanese meals, including Miso Soup and Chicken Katsu
2. Learn more about Japan’s landscape and culture through these videos:
National Geographic Japan: Between Earth and Sky (available on Disney Plus)
3. Read a book together. A few of our favorites include:
Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki (ages 4-8)
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by (ages 6-9)
Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki (ages 6-12)
4. Listen and watch some Japanese taiko drum performances.
*We would love to hear from you. Which ideas did you try? What ideas did you incorporate in your exploration of Japan? Leave us a comment.