For the past ten years, I taught Kindergarten. I learned a lot about cooking and baking from my years in Kindergarten. A number of those years were spent teaching at two International Schools in Europe. The students in my class came from all corners of the world. Some of my favorite recipes come from those classroom experiences. Every week, one school period was devoted to cooking/baking and many parents graciously volunteered to lead the activity.The following rice recipes are from a mother of one of my former Japanese students who gave our class a lesson on making onigiri (rice balls) and inarizushi(fried tofu sushi).
For the following recipes you will need umeboshi plums, which can be purchased at Asian or Vegetarian grocery stores. They are Japanese pickled plums which have a very sour and salty taste. When blended with rice and mint leaves it balances the intense tart flavor of the fruit. You will also need to purchase aburage, seasoned fried tofu. These come canned or frozen. Both foods are a delicious healthy mid-day or after school treat. It is a very simple recipe for children to follow. And as much as my students enjoyed making them, they also happily devoured the delicious rice snacks in seconds! Now, go and hit those Asian grocery stores!
(VERY IMPORTANT TIP! Make sure to keep a bowl of water by your workplace and remember to dip your fingers in the water before handling the rice. It keeps the rice from sticking to your fingers.)
Umeboshi Rice Balls (makes 20)
1 1/2 cups of cooked sushi rice
4 umeboshi plums (this is usually packaged with shiso leaves, add a few of them too!)
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
2 packages of pre-cut crispy toasted seaweed
Remove the pit from the umeboshi plums.
Slice the fruits into very fine pieces.
Pull the mint leaves off the stem.
Roll up and slice into thin slivers.
Add the umeboshi and mint to the rice.
Using a wooden spoon or wooden rice paddle,
mix all the ingredients together.
Remove the seaweed from the package.
Place a bowl of water and a small dish of the salt
beside your workplace.
Dip your fingers into the water and then dip
one finger into the salt.
Smear the salt into the middle of your other hand.
Pick up a small portion of the rice mixture and press
it into your palm until the rice begins to stick
Take a piece of seaweed and wrap it around the rice.
Repeat until all the seaweed is used up.
Inarizushi (Fried Tofu Sushi, makes about 16)
1 cup of cooked sushi rice
One package of aburage:marinated fried tofu (found at Asian grocery stores, either canned or frozen)
1-2 tablespoons of gomasio (sesame salt seasoning found at Asian grocery stores)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Mix the vinegar and salt together.
Sprinkle the gomasio and vinegar/sugar mixture over the rice.
With a wooden spoon or wooden rice paddle,
blend all the ingredients together well.
Separate the fried tofu pockets.
Bring a bowl of water to your workplace.
Dip your fingers into the water.
Open the skin of the fried tofu and
stuff the inside of the pocket with the rice.
Repeat until all the tofu pockets are filled.