Sushicicles with Imogen

Immy digging in

Immy digs in

The other day, I was having some tuna toro sashimi for a snack before dinner. As I sat at the dining room table daintily dipping thin slices of fish into soy sauce and wasabi, my 3-year-old daughter, Imogen, approached.

“I have some?” she said.

Sure, I replied, and gave her a bite.

“Mmmm,” she said. “I have my own?”

I was down to my last bite. But begrudgingly offered it to her. She frowned and flopped down onto the ground.

“Noooooo!!! I want my own!!”

“Imogen there is no more,” I said. But reason was no match for emotion, and  reality only seemed to make matters worse.

Eager to diffuse the situation before it escalated into a full-blown tantrum, I blurted out a desperate half truth:

“Wait,” I said, “There is more!!”

“Yayyy!” she perked up.

What I had was sashimi-grade salmon. But I’d put it in the freezer an hour or so before. So while not frozen solid, it had attained roughly the texture of an Otter Pop. After eating the last bite of toro that she had moments before rejected, Immy joined me in the kitchen and watched eagerly as I cut sashimi-sized bites off for her. “We have to let it defrost for a few minutes, though. It’s frozen.”

“That’s okay,” she replied, scooping up the plate and heading off into the other room. I found her back at the dining room table, skewering the icy fish chunks on the pointy end of a Japanese chopstick, dipping them in soy sauce and chowing them down.

“Mmmm,” she sighed between chews, “I like it.”

Salmon sashimi crisps

Salmon sashimi crisps

Before I had kids, I had romantic fantasies about introducing my adventurous little eaters to all my favorite things, and discovering new foods together! But you get the kid you get, not necessarily the one you imagined. It’s sort of like going to a restaurant and ordering the fish with cous cous, and being served the pork chop with mashed potatoes instead.

My son Flynn started out with promise. I remember sitting at a sushi bar with him when he couldn’t have been much older than two, and being impressed and delighted as he gobbled down deep fried ama ebi sweet shrimp heads. For a brief time, unagi eel was his favorite thing. Then everything changed.

With Imogen, it seemed promising. I at least had a daughter I could eat raw fish with, although she was prone to making insulting proclamations at dinner time:

“Ewww, that’s disgusting.”

Or:

“I hate this dinner.”

Of course, it is a matter of “be careful what you wish for,” as I’ve on occasion had to distract her a mere moment before my cherished last piece of toro was snatched.

Several times we’ve had Japanese dinner parties, in which I cover the table with various types of sushi, usually made with four people in mind, only to have Imogen descend on the table and eat at least one adult’s portion of tuna, albacore or salmon. I’ve managed to develop the reflex to remember this when I’m at the Japanese market buying sashimi fish. Sometimes I’ll even buy a decoy piece of salmon just to throw her off the trail of the other fishes.

Fortunately, she hasn’t developed the taste for sea urchin… yet.

*    *    *

Salmon sashimi crisps with jalapeño and ponzu
serves 4

8 oz. sashimi-grade salmon
12 won ton wrappers
1/2 cup vegetable oil
about 2 cups steamed Japanese sushi rice
2 scallions
1 small jalapeño
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup ponzu sauce (citrus soy)
toasted sesame seeds

With a sushi knife or your sharpest chef’s knife, slice the sashimi about 1/3-inch thick into bite size pieces. (If you have a wide piece versus a long piece, you may want to cut it in half. Sashimi slices are easier to make if the fish has been placed in the freezer for 30 minutes.) Lay slices out on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Fry wonton wrappers, about 4 at a time, for about 60 – 90 seconds per side (or until golden and bubbled, though not browned). Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.

After sushi rice is made and cooled, form into 12 balls of equal size (about ping pong ball size). Set aside.

Finely chop together the scallion, jalapeño and cilantro. Place in a small bowl and set aside.

Assemble sashimi crisps: Place three fried wonton wrappers on each of four plates. Dampen your hands, and flatten out each rice ball between your palms into a disk. Place gently on top of wonton wrappers, continuing until each wrapper has a rice disk (redampening hands as necessary).

Depending on how many salmon slices you wound up with, place 2-3 on top of each rice disk. Sprinkle scallion/jalapeño/cilantro mixture over the top of each. Then drizzle each with ponzu sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Oct 18, 2013 @ 02:08:19

    Sweet.

    Reply

  2. Greggie
    Oct 18, 2013 @ 17:35:52

    It also works the other way around. You imagine you get parents who would introduce you to foods around the world but instead get well done steak cooked until it’s like shoe leather and topped with rubbery canned mushrooms.

    Reply

  3. overzelousdesign
    Oct 19, 2013 @ 03:27:19

    Wow, I love this little write up!! I love Imogen and yes, she has stolen sushi from my plate too!! You have to provide her with her “own” grown up “sushi” plate!!! xxxoooo to Imy

    Reply

  4. overzelousdesign
    Oct 19, 2013 @ 03:27:49

    By the way, It’s me…Monica Schneider lol

    Reply

  5. overzelousdesign
    Oct 19, 2013 @ 03:29:37

    overzelousdesign is my new website that I am working on….not sure I am liking wordpress though just posted a comment loved your write up on Imogen the sushi thief

    MOnica

    Reply

  6. pal-O
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 03:10:42

    Immy is a little doll and we are so pleased we finally got the chance to meet her and play a little “Hello Kitty” catch with her! Photo coming to you! Thanks for such gracious hospitality to all you Call-gins! Much love . . . p&l

    Reply

  7. glennis
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 15:13:48

    That girl will go far!

    In our case, we were perplexed that our little darling spent the first seven to ten years of his life eating little more than bread. Max was such a narrow-band eater we’d sometimes get embarrassed at restaurants, because we wouldn’t even order anything for him, knowing he’d just eat the bread-basket (and want refills). Now at 26 he’s a very adventurous eater and cook, trying all manner of seafood and organ meats. So who knows?

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Oct 21, 2013 @ 22:37:40

      Hopefully finicky Flynnie will follow in Max’s footsteps.

      Reply

    • Heather Lawless
      Dec 31, 2013 @ 21:19:08

      my 6 year old nephew is the same way right now and it is very hard to watch him live off so little with almost no nutritional content. he will even gag if we try and let him sit with us while we eat and he smells the foods. we supplement him with vitamins of course but I pray he too grows out of it too and one day learns to love new foods. your post gives me hope 🙂

      Reply

      • scolgin
        Dec 31, 2013 @ 21:56:41

        Yes don’t worry, they all grow out of it. Our friends were here with their seven year old last night. And they had to force him to try a bite of a new food — RICE!!

  8. lmjapan
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 11:14:12

    Wonderful post, it was such a fun read! Imogen is such a cutie!

    Reply

  9. russianmartini
    Nov 05, 2013 @ 19:43:12

    she’s adorable.

    Reply

  10. Trackback: The Piñata | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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