When my Japanese friends offered to teach me to make sushi a few years ago, I was really excited. Not just because I love sushi, but because when most of your family is gluten-free, new lunch options are really, really exciting.
I was thrilled that I was going to be able to impress everyone with my authentic sushi-making skills, so when another friend asked “Which kinds of sushi are the most authentic? Like, what do you really make for your family all the time?” I leaned in, eager for the inside information. She smiled somewhat guiltily and confided, “tuna and cucumber.”
Like, raw tuna steak, you mean? Where do you find that in China? “Um, no, actually, like, canned tuna.”
Victory. Easy, kid-friendly victory. My actual Japanese friend made this easy, fake-ish sounding sushi every day for her kids. So I present to you, Kid Friendly Tuna and Cucumber Sushi.
First off, you need sushi nori, the square sheets of seaweed that are the “wrapper” for your sushi. These are available at most large grocery stores or Target, etc. You will also need sushi vinegar. You can use regular Seasoned Rice Vinegar or this fantastic sushi vinegar powder if you can find it.
Start with two cups of uncooked sushi rice (or any other short-grain, “sticky” rice.) Cook according to your regular method. Add two tablespoons vinegar or vinegar powder to rice with a small amount of water, mix thoroughly. Break up the rice grains a bit as you stir to increase the stickiness.
Peel one or two cucumbers (the English, seedless kind work best, but any will do) and slice into long, 1/2 inch thick juliennes. Open and thoroughly drain tuna.
If you have a sushi roller (also available for a few dollars at stores with big Intl. food sections or online) place one piece of sushi nori on it. If you don’t have a sushi roller (what? who doesn’t have a sushi roller?) a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper will work just fine.
With wet fingers, carefully spread a small amount of rice mixture over the nori. You want one very thin layer covering all but one inch at the end. Next, place cucumber slice about 1/4 of the way up the nori, and spread a few tablespoons of tuna (less than you think) in a line at the halfway mark.
Next, carefully roll the edge of the nori tightly over the cucumber, tucking edges under to ensure a tight roll. There’s a good video here of sushi “rolling” technique. Use the roller to slowly squeeze and roll the sushi, until you reach the “empty” edge. You’ll see how the rice compressed up to fill the empty edge, but make sure you have at least half an inch of “clean” nori to make a good seal. Run your finger under the tap for a second and use the wet finger to moisten the nori. Finish rolling and smooth the wet edge down to seal.
Let the roll rest for a few minutes, then slice into thin slices with a serrated knife. Keep knife wet to keep the nori from tearing and the rice from sticking to the knife.
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(Final disclaimer. Yes, I know the characters on that plate are Chinese, not Japanese. No, I do not think China and Japan are the same thing. I honestly didn’t even notice that there WERE characters on the plate till editing the pictures, I just wanted a rectangular plate and grabbed the first one I had. In other words, I’m not ignorant, I just have way too many Chinese dishes. Thank you. 🙂 )