I first tried sushi when I was 21. I threw myself in at the deep end – a whole tasting platter for 6am breakfast at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo on my first solo travelling adventure. Luckily I liked it!
My daughter, A, on the other hand had her first taste when she wasn’t even a year old. Like some of my friends I like to shake my head in mock horror at how privileged and ‘frightfully middle class’ our children are (never mind that it’s us introducing the privilege), but actually you know it’s just rice and fish (cooked fish for littles) – and sticky clumps of rice are perfect for chubby baby hands to grab when they are first trying out food. Now A has graduated to inhaling tuna maki and raw salmon like it’s going out of fashion and I need a less financially-ruinous way to feed the sushi monster.
My sushi-rolling skills are very rusty, so we bought an onigiri (rice ball) mould from Amazon – they come in all kinds of shapes beloved by Japanese children in bento boxes and joyfully mean even the youngest of cooks can get involved in making their own rice and fish concoctions. To make it even easier (look away, purists) we make it using microwave-cooked Thai-style sticky rice with a few extras added meaning sushi is on the table (or in the lunch box) in under 20 minutes. Win, win, win.
Easy Peasy ‘Sushi’ (Rainbow Onigiri)
Serves 2-4 (it should serve 4 – but A can easily put away most of this)
- 200g uncooked Thai Sticky Rice
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2-3 sushi nori (seaweed) sheets, trimmed into 2cm wide strips
- Your preferred fillings (see below)
+ onigiri mould(s)
- Place the rice in a microwavable bowl with 350ml cold water and stir. Microwave on high power for 10-15 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed.
- Whilst the rice cooks, prepare your favourite fillings – you will need about 1tsp full per rice ball (= about 1 can of tuna)
- When the rice is cooked, stir through the vinegar, tamari and sugar. Optionally add any seeds or grated veg here (see below).
- When the rice is cool enough to handle, spread enough in the bottom of the mould to cover it. Place in 1tsp of filling, then top with more rice to fill. Place on the lid of the mould and squish down to seal.
- Pop out the rice ball, and wrap a nori strip around it to use as a handle for eating.
- Repeat until all of your rice is gone and serve with your favourite dips and sides. We like edamame beans and a grated salad.
Variations & Filling Ideas
- I like to add some whole grains and/or seeds in with the white rice to add a little more protein and fibre. Quinoa or sesame seeds work especially well.
- Stirring grated or mashed vegetables in with the rice makes rainbow colours – carrots or frozen edamame beans are our favourites.
- No mould? Serve ‘deconstructed’ sushi – a bowl of rice with a selection of toppings for everyone to choose their own.
- Our favourite fillings:
- Cooked, flaked oily fish (salmon, trout)
- Finely chopped prawns
- Tuna with egg-free mayonnaise
- Chopped avocado
- Finely sliced cucumber or spring onions
- Grated carrot
- Finely chopped pork or chicken in hoisin or barbecue sauce