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Japanese food for a class project


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My 11 year old son is in a World Geography and Culture class at school this quarter, and he chose to do a report/presentation on Japan, and wants to bring in food as part of the presentation, and with a week to go, I'm scrambling for ideas.

He wants to bring in sushi, which I said no to as sushi for 34 kids is a little too labor intensive for my tastes.

I'm good at family style meals, but am struggling to come up with something that will work for this, including surviving the trip to school.

Other ideas that have come up are edamame and onigiri, but he wants something more exciting and I'm stumped.

I'd appreciate any ideas.

Cheryl

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How about those cone sushi? You can make 34 cones and still make the ingredients kid friendly - imitation crab meat, enoki, carrots, etc.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

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although i'd probably just make some simple sushi (filled with advocado, pepper or cucumber), how about some sort of Yakitori using chicken breast? or perhaps to make the idea of edamame more interesting for your son maybe he could also take in a bag of wasabi peas for the more daring of his friends?

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Onigiri? (ignore that, just re-read the original post)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onigiri

there's heaps of easy stuff on this site (and hard stuff too :))

http://justbento.com/

Meatballs, omlettes (tortilla)....

The meatballs are probably easiest for a big group

http://justbento.com/handbook/johbisai/mea...-meatballs-more

viola :)

Edited by Craig Bayliss (log)
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Makizushi is not quite as labour-intensive as nigirizushi, and you can slice one roll into quite a few pieces. Kappamaki would be perfect.

Then only problem with suggestions involving different kinds of sushi is the rice. It would really need to be made the morning of, unless you want to turn the kids off sushi forever.

Would karaage be too western?

If they have a microwave handy, I'd like some curry rice served in little cupcake liners or something similar, with little plastic spoons with which to eat. Not as labour intensive, and students could dish out their own stuff (or you could have the servings ready--your son could help, since it's his project), and just make sure he keeps the plastic container or whatever upright on his way to school.

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I agree with Domestic Goddess about 'cone'/temaki sushi but would suggest a slightly different approach which would make the project less labour intensive for you and more fun for the children.

Instead of attempting to make temaki cones for everybody, portion out the ingredients in easy to manage kits (perhaps each 'kit' serving four or six children)

The kids take their sheet of nori seaweed, smear on the rice with a plastic utensil, add the fillings of their choice and roll it up.

You might like to make up and photocopy some simple instructions to go along with it. Here's an example you could adapt: http://www.eastsearoad.com.au/Temakisushi_Stepbystep.htm.

As mentioned, the rice does need to be the 'right' rice and cooked and seasoned with sushi vinegar that morning. Some of the fillings can be prepared the night before. You can discuss with your son the different ways he can distribute the food and teach them to roll it. But it's not so very different to making your own tacos or burritos at a party.

I've taken 'make your own temaki sushi kits' to picnics on quite a few occasions. It's the simplest way I know to make Japanese food for a lot of people.

Best of luck, whatever you decide!

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Part of the problem I discovered when rolling sushi ahead of time for a party was that the nori just doesn't stay crisp (it absorbs the moisture from the rice) and gets extremely chewy by the time you are serving it. If I serve sushi at an event now, it is done a la minute.

I agree with the other posters about individual sushi kits with pre-portioned ingredients. You may also want to have some less authentic, but more kid friendly fillings around just in case you have some wary eaters.

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My wife's default choice for this sort of thing is kappamaki with a little canned tuna and mayo.

The kids just gobble it up and I don't think it's that labor-intensive. (You didn't indicate if this is an in-class project, or something made at home to share with the class.) A side of karaage would be perfect with this.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I just thought of something. Are you a baker? You could bake little anpan or cream-pan the night before. Not "traditional" but still Japanese, and very accessible to kids.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Teriyaki drumettes as a side portion? maybe this is getting too complicated? But you an buy these frozen drumettes, part of the wing portion that is not messy, and just fry them in a non-stick pan, and when browned add Kristin's teriyaki formula or just a bit of Kikkoman's teriyaki sauce?

Can be made the night before. Finger food. A little Green Tea for a hot beverage?

Has your son asked how many of the 34 have dietary restrictions or what they WILL NOT EAT? meat, fish, nuts, eggs etc? Important to keep a note and maybe work around this.

You may, for example, have to sacrifice authenticity, and go for avocado/ cucumber sushi. Just a thought experiment, mind you, if dietary restrictions/dislikes hedge you in with respect to fillings.

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Mochi?  Who doesn't love ice cream mochi....

Mochi is exactly what I was thinking.

Sushi is a bad idea and you're asking for trouble with it. As much as I love sushi, I wouldn't want my kid eating some other kid's raw fish. Even if you're not going to include raw fish, you're still imposing on the teacher to ensure the quality of the final product. Plus giving wasabi and soy sauce to a group of 11 yr olds and the teacher will probably want to kill you.

Mochi is the answer. It's exotic enough for most kids, but it's still just rice. And if you don't want to make it (most Japanese don't make it themselves anymore) you can just buy a few boxes of the stuff.

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Sushi is a bad idea and you're asking for trouble with it.

Is this spoken from personal experience?

We've actually done this, for kids younger than 11, and had zero problems. First you choose a filling that is not raw fish (obviously), like the kappamaki that many have suggested. Maybe some sesame seeds too for interest. And of course no wasabi or pickled ginger. Some kids will also choose not to dip in soy sauce.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Has your son asked how many of the 34 have dietary restrictions or what they WILL NOT EAT? meat, fish, nuts, eggs etc? Important to keep a note and maybe work around this.

My kiddo is the one with dietary restrictions, so obviously anything I send in needs to be safe for him to eat, which means no sesame, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts or coconut.

Mochi is starting to sound like a good idea.

Cheryl

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My kiddo is the one with dietary restrictions, so obviously anything I send in needs to be safe for him to eat, which means no sesame, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts or coconut.

Mochi is starting to sound like a good idea.

Oops.

Mochi ice cream would be an easy sell (and minimal labor--just buy Yukimi Daifuku). Mochi itself might be a harder sell for the kids, depending on how multicultural the students' backgrounds are. In our community, sushi is definitely an easy sell.

How about snacks like arare and other rice crackers? Pocky?

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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To me, regular mochi wouldn't be a good idea unless the kids were used to that sort of texture. Most adults (from the "west") I've met don't like mochi, and it can be difficult to eat (how many people choke on it every year?). For the kids the gooey chewy stickiness might have a fun-factor to it (or a gross-factor), but would they eat it? I love it, and toasted with butter and sugar is the best!

I liked the idea of cream pan, too, but bread-things would be more labour-intensive than sushi. I'd do curry pan, baked not fried.

I've got a craving for Japanese curry these days. Can you tell? :smile:

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I liked the idea of cream pan, too, but bread-things would be more labour-intensive than sushi.  I'd do curry pan, baked not fried.

Probably the easiest and most accessible thing I can think of for this application is yakisoba.

Even better if there is a microwave on site (but not completely necessary).

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Probably the easiest and most accessible thing I can think of for this application is yakisoba.

Even better if there is a microwave on site (but not completely necessary).

Yakisoba! That's a great idea!

Or okonomiyaki. Everyone loves okonomiyaki, plus it's really easy to make, and it isn't so bad if served cold.

One normal-sized okonomiyaki could serve at least 10 kids, more if cut into small squares. Cheese okonomiyaki. . . mmmmmm. . .

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Hmmm... curry or yakisoba would work out well too. Yakisoba I could easy make as vegetarian. He (my son) says that they have access to a microwave in the staff room. I also already have everything I would need to make yakisoba.

I guess it depends on the students, but some kids might balk at curry and jump to the conclusion that it's "spicy." (Completely unfounded of course.)

Gyoza would also have a 100% hit rate, and is not too bad cold. Crispy, deep-fried gyoza is even better if it has to be served cold. A classic bento food.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Hmm... So, what about bento? Bring cooked rice and three side dishes (one meat-centered dish and two vegetable dishes), and let the students make their own bento. Bring barley tea as well. :biggrin:

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As someone who has done various things like this in the past I have a couple of more specific questions.

Is this just a small part of his presentation? Is he just going to pass these out at the end as a sample of Japanese food or is the presentation going to be built around this, meaning that food is the theme? How much time does he have? Is he the only student presenting that period, or does he have a set period of time like 10 minutes?

Will he be taking the food in the morning when he goes to school (if so is there a refrigerator?) or will you bringing it later on or will you be able to make it at the school?

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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