Sushi for Kids
Tips for introducing kids to sushi
I am often asked if it safe for children to eat sushi. The answer to this is question is absolutely. Sushi, as we all know, refers to a type of dish made with vinegar dressed rice and there are just as many varieties of sushi as there are fish in the sea. It is unfortunate that many people think of sushi as being strictly raw fish* as it prevents many from even trying the cuisine. The thought that sushi is unsafe often prevents parents from introducing it to young children and keeps expectant mothers far away from sushi bars. This advice often comes from well-meaning physicians, but the message they are truly trying to convey is steer clear of the raw seafood.
Sushi is the ultimate fun food for kids. The colorful and artfully arranged pieces captivate young ones. And though most children enjoy learning to use chopsticks, eating sushi with one’s fingers is just as proper and acceptable.
Want to introduce your kids to sushi? Keep these things in mind.
Think nigiri. In America, we tend to think of sushi as being rolls. But when most people, including children, try sushi and dislike it, the seaweed wrap that holds rolls together is often the culprit. Introduce the flavor of the rice and toppings together first. If children are picky they may feel more comfortable being able to see exactly what they are eating, rather than trying to decipher what lies inside of a roll. Some nigiri try are tamagoyaki(a sweet egg omelet), cooked shrimp, avocado, smoked salmon, and unagi(broiled bbq eel drizzled with a sweet soy flavored sauce).
Think color and fun factor. Though delicious, single ingredient vegetable rolls can be a bit boring in the eyes of children. I’ve often seen parents order cucumber rolls for their children only to find that what the children really want is the more colorful roll on their parents plate. Rolls such as caterpillar rolls that are topped with avocado and filled with cooked eel, California rolls that are topped with crunchy masago fish roe, and tempura shrimp rolls where playful shrimp tails poke out the sides are often more appealing to children. When ordering these for children, ask sushi chefs to cut rolls into 8 pieces for a more manageable bite. In some cases, they can even be cut into 10 pieces. For rolls that come with the typical seaweed paper on the outside, ask that colorful (and tasteless) soy paper be substituted.
Think “It’s no big deal.” Make experiencing sushi just as common as say trying spaghetti for the first time. If sushi is introduced without making it seem bizarre or unusual, you are likely to get the idea of sushi to stick.
*To introduce children to raw seafood, let your intuition be your guide. While it is not recommended that children, pregnant or nursing women, and those with compromised immune systems consume raw seafood, many parents that feel comfortable with eating raw seafood allow their children to do so as well. There is no recommended age that children begin eating raw seafood. When allowing children to eat raw seafood, always be sure to eat at establishments that have the freshest seafood available.