Hospobaby: Little sushi master
Zoya’s sushi making session with Dad helps Chand Sahrawat fill school lunchboxes
The school lunchbox is as dreaded in our house as any other. Hospobaby likes her lunch to be warm; there aren’t that many cold options she enjoys. You can only have sandwiches so many times a week.
Recently Zoya asked her Northcote Primary school classmates what they would like her to make for Bite and sushi was a firm favourite. Hospobaby loves sushi especially at her favourite restaurant, Masu, so she made a case to Sid to make some and was delighted when the leftovers made it to her lunchbox the next day. Sushi is now a weekly lunchbox item.
I came across onigirazu a few months back. If you are not as skilled at rolling sushi like me, onigirazu, or sushi sandwiches, are much easier to assemble. They are easier for little hands to hold and eat. You can also use nigiri moulds (from Japan Mart) to cheat your way to perfectly formed sushi. I have figured out that using our electric pressure cooker saves time and ensures evenly cooked no-fail sushi rice. Sushi is a great way to get kids involved in making their own lunchboxes — we hope you enjoy experimenting with your own favourite sushi fillings and have more empty lunchboxes coming home.
Sushi rolls, sandwiches and nigiri
- 1 cup sushi rice
- 1½ cups water
- 3 Tbsp sushi vinegar
- 1 packet toasted nori sheets
- Desired fillings, such as tuna, prawns, teriyaki chicken, cucumber, avocado
- Pickled ginger, pickled daikon, wasabi, Yum Yum sauce (Japanese mayo), tamari or soy sauce to serve
For the rice
Rinse sushi rice repeatedly in a colander under the tap until water runs clear. We cook sushi rice in an electric pressure cooker so it is quick and easy — add the sushi rice and water and cook the rice on high pressure for 8 minutes. The traditional method is to bring the water to a boil in a saucepan then add the rice, lower the heat and cover the pan. In 20 minutes you should have perfect sushi rice. Once the rice is cooked using either method, take it out of the pan and spread on a wooden chopping board or other flat surface to cool. Add the sushi vinegar to the cooling rice to flavour it — this also helps preserve the cooked rice. Use a flat spatula to mix gently.
For onigirazu (sushi sandwiches)
Take a sheet of nori and cut off any excess so you have a square piece. Wet your hands and grab a lump of sushi rice and flatten it on the nori. Add your favourite fillings on top. We used tuna and cucumber sliced thinly. Fold one corner of the nori to the opposite corner so you get a triangle that looks like a sandwich. Press hard to make the rice stick and flatten the onigirazu slightly. Using a sharp damp knife cut the onigirazu in half, forming two smaller triangles.
For nigiri sushi
Traditionally, sushi masters make nigiri by shaping it in their hands. Since we are no sushi masters we use the nigiri moulds available in Japanese stores and $2 shops. Kids quickly get the hang of this. Fill the nigiri sushi moulds with the sushi rice. Press firmly using the lid of the mould. Remove the lid and push out each nigiri sushi piece. You should have firm rectangles of sushi rice. Place thinly sliced tuna cut to match the size of your nigiri on top and press gently.
For sushi rolls (maki-sushi)
Place a nori sheet on a sushi rolling mat and spread cooked sushi rice evenly over the nori by pressing with wet fingertips, leaving a 1.5cm border at the far edge. You can dot a bit of wasabi, if using, on top of the rice in the centre. Add your choice of fillings (we used tuna and prawn) in a horizontal line across the centre of the rice. Using the sushi mat roll the sushi up tightly so you get a cylinder. Squeeze firmly and, if needed, seal the edge with some water. Slice the sushi roll with a damp knife into 1.5 inch rounds.
Create a fun platter by serving different types of sushi on a large plate with pickled ginger, pickled daikon, wasabi and tamari and other condiments of choice. Garnish with petals of edible flowers such pansies and nasturtiums.
“Hospo”, short for hospobaby, is a term used regularly in the hospitality industry. Chand and Sid own the restaurants Sidart and Cassia, so Zoya has been part of the hospitality industry from day one, hence the term “hospobaby”.