Wondering how to introduce your kids to sushi? You’ve come to the right place!
This past spring break we successfully introduced sushi to our three kids. Two of them both still want to eat sushi, and one of those two still wants to eat sashimi. I believe we were successful even though one of our kids doesn’t like it, at least he tried. This is our kiddo that literally only likes chicken, steak, and hamburger with the occasional cheese puff and bags of candy. So getting him to try something new is always a success in my book.
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People with allergies beware!
Before we begin, I recommend not to introduce your kids to sushi or sashimi if you they have any kind of fish or shell fish allergy. That’s just not smart. While sushi can be made with imitation crab meat, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have fish in it. Imitation crab meat(crab sticks, krab sticks, fake crab) is actually made of ground up white fish, surimi, mixed with starch. Plus, at a sushi bar or restaurant, seafood and shell fish are all generally prepared in the same area. Those with shell fish allergies shouldn’t be anywhere near it!
What is Sushi and Sashimi?
Sushi and sashimi are not the same thing. Before learning how to introduce your kids to sushi, learn a bit about what types are available. I learned a bunch from MandarinGrillandSushiBar.com and compiled a list below.
Sushi – general term; Japanese styled meal consisting of fish, rice, or both; not all sushi is raw
Sashimi – raw fish without rice; generally selected by the chef
Nigiri – hand-formed ball of rice with a slice of fish on top
Maki – a roll with the seaweed wrapped on the outside
Roll – a roll with rice wrapped on the outside and the seaweed wrap on the inside
Hand Roll – seaweed wrapped on the outside in the shape of a small cone with fish, ingredients, and/or rice on the inside
There are many different ingredients that could be included in each dish – fish, shell fish, rice, avocado, spices, breadings, vegetables, fruits, fish eggs, and more. Then there’s all the different types of fish/meat – eel, crab, fake crab, shrimp, salmon, tuna, and more!That’s why when you go to a sushi bar/restaurant there will be a list of a bazillian different choices!
Speaking about selections, this reminds me… most times either a menu will be available or an order sheet for you to fill out will be available. Both generally include the name of the dish plus what is in the dish. Some also note if sauces are added or the sushi will be cooked. Keep in mind there are some sushi bars where the chef has a signature sauce they have created and put it on top of everything. Not mine or my kids’ favorite. Be sure to clarify whether or not a sauce is added even if it doesn’t show on the menu or is a common roll like the California roll. We made that mistake at a sushi restaurant and my kids’ California rolls came out with the signature sauce on top. It just wasn’t our taste.
How to Introduce Your Kids to Sushi
Now that you know about the dangers of allergies with sushi and have learned more about the delightful dishes, let’s talk about trying this new food with your kids. We are all so unique right down to our dispositions and taste buds. Your kids are unique. With my three kids I had to approach this adventure 3 different ways.
For the adventurous kid
My adventurous kid is up for trying anything new. Recently, she jumped off a 15-20 foot waterfall without skipping a beat (well the second time around she froze but was still brave enough to free climb down the bluff which seemed scarier to me). So, for an adventurous kid, introducing sushi is all about hyping up the food before you get there.
For us, that meant talking about how people in different countries have dishes that are know to be originated from that country. Sushi started in the paddy fields in Southeast Asia and around the 8th century migrated to Japan. You can help your child by showing them that trying new foods is a way to connect with other cultures.
For the bookworm
My oldest loves to know details about things – especially scientific things. At 5-6 years old, he could name fish that I had never heard of and tell me what ocean they are found, food they eat, and more. So introducing him to sushi was easy but also tricky. I didn’t want to remind him too much of the fish because I had no clue if what they eat would gross him out. So we talked about the culture that sushi originated in, the combination of spices and ingredients and how taste buds are affected, and more. Making the sushi seem more interesting than just a tiny slab of fish on top of rice peeked his curiosity and he will eat a plate full now.
For the picky eater
Some picky eaters are going through phases and some stay in the picky eater phase their entire life. I think by requiring my youngest to at least try different things that some day he’ll come out of this phase. And if not, oh well, at least he will know he’s not missing anything.
How to introduce sushi to your kids might go something like this especially if they are picky eaters… Order the dishes that you want everyone to try and include a couple of different types so there is a variety that they can choose from. We did convince him to try some deep fried sushi, teryaki(they had other entrees besides sushi) and had a side dish of edamame(aka steamed soy beans in their pods with way too much salt – YUM!). Although he vowed to never again try sushi, we’ll see in a couple years after his taste buds rotate.
Make sure to only order food for the people you think will definitely eat the sushi. This will help you avoid wasting food and avoid having a higher bill than necessary. If the picky eater ends up enjoying the sushi you can always add to your order.
For kids who don’t like restaurants
It was a long time before I felt more comfortable taking our kids to a restaurant that didn’t include a playground. You hear what I’m saying right Mommas? So if you are still in the stage of “getting out of the house takes an act of Congress” never fear! Lots of grocery stores now carry sushi and most sushi bars have to go ordering. Never fear, you can still enjoy the eating adventure from the comfort of your kitchen table. Plus, you don’t even have to cook.
Oh, you like to cook? (me, naaa!) Well, I hear sushi is a fun dish to make from home. You don’t even have to have the little mat to roll it up. Check out this article about using a towel. Yep, a clean towel or get a sushi making kit for beginners is a pretty good deal – click the picture below…
And don’t forget the soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger! Some people like dipping the sushi in soy sauce (like me!). I also enjoy using wasabi by mixing it with the soy sauce and then dipping the sushi in it. Wasabi is a spice kind of like horseradish or hot mustard that releases vapors that stimulate the nasal passageways. Ginger is used to cleanse the palate before or after eating sushi or between eating different kinds of sushi. I’m not a bit fan of the taste or it but many people use this functional garnish. Your kids may or may not like these spices but if they are feeling adventurous, why not give them a try!
There is no guarantee that this article will make giant sushi fans out of your kids but it is a great starting point! How to introduce your kids to sushi doesn’t have to be a difficult or unhappy event. Remember to make this an adventurous meal, and educational meal, and a meal that helps the kids open their palates to new cultures. This will help make your family’s first sushi meal a success!