sushi art (my second Project Food Blog challenge)

I do not. eat. sushi. Ever. (This doesn’t count.) Partly because of taste. I like hearty meals: mac n’ cheese, spaghetti with pesto, breaded chicken, breaded anything. Partly because of health, oddly enough, as sushi is infinitely more healthy than everything I just listed. I’ve a medical history too long to cover in this blog post, and the components of sushi are a bit too high residue to sit well with me. And as I do not ever eat sushi, I most certainly have never tried to make it.

Why all this talk of sushi on a cookie blog? Because, dear readers, I surpassed the first challenge of the Foodbuzz Project Food Buzz! Remember my cookie pop meal? It got me through to Round Two. A gigantic THANK YOU to those who voted for little old moi. So I’m ready to face my next challenge: To “tackle a classic dish from another culture” that is “outside my comfort zone.” I chose sushi because: 1. It’s not a dessert, so out of my element. 2. My sushi resistance has led to voluntary social exclusion. Sigh. I never went to my friend’s “Sushi Friday.” I politely move “how about sushi?” conversations elsewhere. Sushi sushi sushi. Even my four-year old niece is a fan. And 3. I’m of Irish and English descent and grew up in the Jersey suburbs. Sushi is outside my culture.


So sushi it is. But as I must add art to every edible, I give you…
the decorated sushi
how I got here
First, I googled “sushi art” and found this panda bear sushi at the site, OK, my inspiration. Panda bear? Perfect. I live in DC where the Panda Bear is big. Problem was, my “how to make panda bear sushi” search was fruitless. So I’d have to wing it.
Second, I googled “how to make sushi” (see? I really am starting from scratch) and found this site. And I entered this phenomenally huge world of edible art and delicacies. Classic roll, inside out roll, Temaki sushi, Nigiri sushi, Dragon Roll, Rainbow Roll, Pandanni Roll…. I hadn’t the slightest clue what any of this meant. Best stick with classic (maki) sushi. And vegetarian, please. Step one: Feel the nori sheet. What’s a nori sheet? Geez, I’m in trouble.
Third, after some more research, I lined up my basics: a rolling mat, some seaweed (the nori sheet), Japanese rice. Maybe throw in some carrot eyes like the picture. I found almost everything at my local Giant. Rice vinegar, sure, but even the sushi rice and Nori. Then a trip to Whole Foods to find something I could use for the Panda’s mouth resulted in Arame Sea Vegetables. OK, here goes.


how I made Panda sushi
step one: make the sushi rice
For the sushi rice, I used this recipe.
step two: make the ears and eyes

After a little more internet search for “how to roll sushi,” I figured I’d start small with the ears and eyes. I tried to tint some rice with soy sauce to make it black. It was brown. So I added a couple drops of food coloring. Cheating? I learned of “black rice” after the fact. So I spread out my own “black” rice on a bit of Nori and folded a small roll. Then I cut the excess Nori with scissors. (Can I do that?) Two small rolls for the ears, which I sliced into pieces, and two slightly larger rolls for the eyes.

step three: the big roll

I spread out my rice as instructed on a full sheet of Nori, wet hands and all, then used logic to determine the placement of the two eye rolls. I was a little off. But the roll went relatively well considering I was applying logic to a total unknown. Then I sliced the pieces.
step four: assembling the Panda
I relied mostly on gravity and the sticky nature of things, but I used tiny pieces of dried spaghetti to keep some of the ears on. I used slices of baby carrots for the eyes (as in the photo), Arame sea vegetable strings for the mouth (tedious and difficult, since they are stiff), and I used a hole puncher on a piece of Nori for the nose (I already used scissors, I figured I could use a hole punch). A few slices of cucumber for “bamboo” (to add more than just rice, which I imagine is the dullest sushi ever) and I was done.
the result
While my sushi recipe was simple for a new adventure (rice and a few veggie sticks? No raw fish?), my challenge was the rolling. I had never eaten sushi, rolled sushi, let alone tried to make art from the roll. Clearly I need a bit more finesse. Not quiiiiite like this one, huh? But I’m pleased that I tried something totally foreign to me and with minimally recognizable–and even pretty tasty–results.
what I would have done differently

I’d have started at an Asian supermarket. Since I was focused on the art of wrapping and my ingredients were simple, I thought I could get away with more conveniently located stores. Had I started at the right supermarket, I’d have learned about black rice. What was I thinking? Although the black food coloring worked, I’m pretty sure it’s not a Japanese delicacy. Mistake. Second, I’d have taken pictures of the mess in my kitchen after trying to make sushi.


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  1. Sommer J says

    Congratulations!! I am not a big sushi fan either.
    These Panda Rolls look so cute I could….eat them all up! Bad joke. I love the illustrations as usual! Good luck!

  2. Marisa says

    Wow! I think you did a really great job. I wouldn't try anything beyond a plain circle for my first time.

    I love sushi, but I prefer someone else to make it for me. :)

  3. Sue says

    I don't care for sushi(except the California roll), but I LOVE your panda bears…just to look at and marvel:) They're beyond cute!

  4. bridget {bake at 350} says

    Well, you are DEFINITELY going to round 3! :) Just darling!

    I can eat a California roll, but still haven't advanced to the "raw fish" part. :)

  5. Laci says

    I recently had sushi for the first time! and I have been CRAVING it for the past few weeks. I have followed your blog for awhile and it is funny to me that you post this the very day I announced on facebook that I was craving it so much! Thank you for posting. It makes me brave enough to try it on my own!

  6. Lilimonster says

    The sushi looks great! I've tried making sushi before and it was a disaster, but after reading this I think it's totally doable

  7. Angela Brian says

    all i can say is you are lucky not to like sushi.

    it is a very expensive addiction.

    i wish i never tried the stuff.

    then i wouldn't have spent so much money eating it! :)

    – TONS!



  8. Chic Cookies says

    Oh, you are all the best! Thank you! Angela, some of the ingredients were crazy expensive, too! yikes. I think the sea vegetables were about 7 bucks!

  9. Fun and Fearless in Beantown says

    These pandas are so adorable! Good luck and I hope we can both advance to the next round of #PFB2010!

  10. Gabrielle @ i.gourmet says

    Wow, this was an awesome post and I voted! I have a daughter who is panda obsessed, she will love to look at these! Great job!

  11. Foo says

    I'm new to your blog, found you through the FB Challenge. I love this! Absolutely adorable, awesome job. I <3 pandas and also <3'd your entry. Good luck.

  12. Gina MarySol Ruiz says

    Wow. Those panda bears look adorable. I'll have to try that with my granddaughter. Good luck in the competition. I voted for you.

  13. Libby says

    I think you had my first vote, but I realized I hadn't left a comment: Wow! I have trouble making sushi look like sushi, let alone look like art!

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