Kid-friendly Terrific "Temaki" Sushi + Sweet Soy Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Terrific "Temaki" Sushi + Sweet Soy

Recipe: Terrific "Temaki" Sushi + Sweet Soy

Terrific "Temaki" Sushi + Sweet Soy

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Eva Gruendemann/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
22 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Terrific "Temaki" Sushi + Sweet Soy

If our family could eat sushi every night, we would be very happy, and very poor. While sushi is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, it is costly to buy in a restaurant. However, you can quickly and easily make sushi at home. Just forget about the fish. That is not only acceptable but wonderful and perfectly traditional in Japan. Think about it: sushi without seafood and sushi without restaurants. It's an appealing option. What does the word "sushi" mean? You may be surprised to find that "sushi" doesn't mean raw fish. The word means "it's sour" and refers to the rice prepared with vinegar. The mounds, rounds, or rolls of pearly white, sweet and sour, just warm rice is the real essence of sushi. Like rice dishes everywhere—risotto, paella, arroz con pollo, biryani—sushi is a way of taking an ordinary, relatively inexpensive product and giving it more character by adding a bit of something interesting to it.

Most kids like playing with their food, and hand-rolled sushi is one of the most fun and delicious ways to enjoy sushi. The Japanese word "temaki" means "hand-rolled," so temaki sushi means sushi that is hand-rolled into a cone. My daughters and I have so much fun patting the rice onto the nori, flattening it, and filling it with all kinds of yummy, healthy fillings. It takes practice to roll sushi well, so don't worry if you don't get it right on the first try! We sure didn't! Just keep trying, and keep in mind that even if they don't look so great, they'll still be tasty! Handrolls are great for parties and having fun while kids learn about the art of sushi making, and they will fall in love with the wonderful flavors. Throw a temaki party today! "Oishii!" ("Delicious!")

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • dice :

    to cut foods into small pieces of equal size so that the food is cooked evenly or looks uniform and pleasant when used in the recipe.

  • drizzle :

    to trickle a thin stream of a liquid ingredient, like icing or sauce, over food.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • slice :

    to cut into thin pieces using a sawing motion with your knife.

Equipment Checklist

  • Large saucepan + matching lid (or rice cooker)
  • Colander or strainer
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Spatula
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Large plate
  • Small bowl
  • Whisk
  • Kid or kitchen scissors


Terrific "Temaki" Sushi + Sweet Soy

  • 1 1/2 C short grain rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T sugar/agave nectar
  • 1/4 C rice wine vinegar
  • soy sauce **(for GLUTEN/SOY ALLERGY sub coconut aminos)**
  • sugar/agave nectar
  • 8 to 12 large nori seaweed sheets **(for SHELLFISH ALLERGY sub rice paper wrappers)**
  • sushi roll fillings (choose at least 3 or more—feel free to add your own fruits and veggies!):
  • firm tofu **(Omit for SOY ALLERGY)**
  • scrambled eggs **(Omit for EGG ALLERGY)**
  • avocados
  • cucumber
  • carrot
  • bean sprouts
  • apple
  • dipping sauce
  • bell pepper
  • cooked sweet potato
  • green onions
  • asparagus
  • lettuce
  • snap peas
  • cooked mushrooms

Food Allergen Substitutions

Terrific "Temaki" Sushi + Sweet Soy

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce.
  • Soy: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce. Omit tofu from possible sushi roll fillings.
  • Shellfish: Substitute rice paper wrappers for the nori seaweed sheets.
  • Egg: Omit scrambled egg from possible sushi roll fillings.


Terrific "Temaki" Sushi + Sweet Soy

rice: rinse + cook

Have kids rinse with cool water **1 1/2 cups of short-grained rice** in a colander until the water runs clear and let it drain. Place the rinsed, drained rice in a rice cooker (cook according to directions on your machine) or a pot with a tight-fitting lid and add 3 cups of water. Stove Method: Cover and bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 2 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, or until water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, remove the lid, and place a towel over the pot. Replace lid and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

vinegar: whisk + drizzle

Second to the rice, the most critical ingredient for sushi is rice vinegar, which is pretty much the soul of sushi rice. Sugar and salt are added to flavor the sushi rice. Have your kids whisk together 1 tablespoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar together in a bowl.

fold + fan

Then have kids drizzle this seasoned vinegar you’ve just made over the precooked rice and gently fold the vinegar into the rice by running a spatula through the rice in slicing motions to separate the grains. While doing this, slowly add more of the vinegar mixture. Add only as much as is necessary; the rice should not be mushy. In Japan, they fan the rice with an uchiwa (fan) during the cooling and mixing procedures. Have your kids fan the rice while you pour on the seasoned vinegar!

fillings: slice + dice

Have kids slice and dice up the tofu, fruits, and vegetables into matchstick-size pieces. Sprinkle with a little rice vinegar as they chop and set everything on a plate in the middle of the table.

sweet soy: pour + whisk

For the sweet soy dipping sauce, kids get to pour soy sauce and sugar together in a small bowl until they agree on the taste. (We like a 4 to 1 soy sauce to sugar ratio.) Whisk and set to the side. Now let’s rock and roll up our sushi!

fill + fold

Have kids open up a large package of sushi nori. Then have kids cut the large nori sheets in half with scissors. Place a half sheet of nori horizontally in front of your child on a cutting mat. Place about 2 tablespoons of vinegared sushi rice on the left third of the nori, leaving a nori border all around. Your child can now place whatever filling ingredients they choose vertically across the middle of the rice. Fold the corner of the nori over to begin folding and rolling into a cone shape. Continue to roll until it forms a cone. You can put a piece of sushi rice at the bottom right corner to use as glue and close tightly. It takes practice to roll sushi well, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right on the first try!

Surprise Ingredient: Nori!

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Photo by penguiin/

Hi! I'm Nori!

"Did you know I grow in the sea? I'm a type of seaweed found in Japan, eaten either fresh or dried. My color varies from light green to jet black. You probably know me best as the paper-like, dark green wrapping that keeps pieces of sushi neatly contained."  


  • Nori is an edible form of seaweed used in Japanese cuisine. Nori is made from a species of red algae or seaweed of the Pyropia genus in the Bangiaceae family. Nori is an ancient food of Japan and can date back to the 8th century. 
  • Originally, nori was used in the form of a paste, which is still widely used today. However, around 1750, during the Edo period, the paper form of nori was invented using the traditional Japanese paper-making technique by shredding and drying the seaweed and then pressing it into thin sheets. 

How to Buy & Eat

  • There are several grades of nori sheets. The highest, indicative of the best quality, is the Gold or A grade, and it is also the darkest, being quite black. Restaurants may prefer the higher quality nori, whereas a home cook will probably be satisfied with a lower, less expensive grade.
  • You can find packages of nori at any Asian grocery store and, more frequently nowadays, in regular grocery stores. Shops also sell snack packs of seasoned, dried nori. Nori that is sold as "plain" or "toasted" is the most versatile for our cooking purposes. 
  • Nori packaged in an airtight container or ziplock bags will keep for quite some time in the pantry. If the sheets lose their crispness, you can crisp them up in a skillet on the stove for a few seconds or in the oven.
  • Chefs and home cooks commonly use nori sheets to wrap sushi and onigiri. You can also shred dried nori into tiny pieces to add to "furikake," a Japanese condiment that you can serve with fish, rice, veggies, or salad. It also makes a good topping for Hawaiian poke.  


  • Seaweed, especially nori, is often considered a superfood. Some people might consider seaweed an unusual food, but it is highly nutritious. 
  • Nori is a rich source of protein, fiber, iodine, vitamins A, B1, B2, B9, and C, calcium, and potassium. It is a moderate source of niacin, iron, and zinc. Eating seaweed may help prevent cardiovascular disease.

What is Sushi?

Photo by Sticky Fingers Cooking
  • Sushi is a Japanese dish. It is cold, cooked rice to which rice vinegar and salt have been added, and it is typically garnished with seafood, often fresh and raw, veggies, or egg. Popular sushi styles are "maki," "temaki," and "nigiri." 
  • "Maki" sushi is hand-rolled rice, seafood, and other garnishes wrapped in "nori," a Japanese seaweed, and cut into bite-size pieces. "Tamaki" sushi keeps the roll shape, so you bite into them. "Nigiri" sushi is vinegared rice formed into balls with thin slices of seafood placed on top. Hanaya Yohei is credited with creating the modern Tokyo-style "nigiri" in the 19th century.
  • The precursor of sushi, "narezushi," consisted of salted fish fermented in rice, vinegar, and salt. It may have originated in southern China at the turn of the millennium. Initially, consumers would discard the rice and eat only the fish. However, sometime between 1336 to 1578 (the Muromachi period), Japanese people ate the rice with semi-fermented fish. Eventually, they ate fresh fish with the vinegared rice during the Edo period (1603–1867).

Let's Learn About Japan!

Photo by yamasan0708/
  • Japan is an East Asian island country with more than 6,800 islands! However, there are five main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu (called "Hondo" or "mainland"), Kyushu, Okinawa, and Shikoku. 
  • The country is governed by a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, with an emperor, a prime minister, and a legislature. 
  • Japanese is the official language, with English becoming more widespread in business and education. 
  • Japan lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," contributing to its island geography. There are more than 111 active volcanoes, and Japan has the most earthquakes every year. Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain and volcano in Japan at 12,389.2 feet. 
  • Tokyo is Japan's capital and largest city. Japan's total area is 145,937 square miles, and its population is over 125.5 million. 
  • The Japanese word for Japan is "Nihon" or "Nippon." The Japanese or "kanji" characters used for its name mean "origin of the sun." This is the source of Japan's nickname, "Land of the Rising Sun." The red circle in the center of the Japanese flag represents the rising sun, or "circle of the sun." 
  • "Kanji" is a Japanese writing system that uses characters derived from Chinese writing. Each character represents a word or words. 
  • Ancient warriors of Japan were known as Samurai and were highly skilled swordsmen and fighters. 
  • Japan's national flower is the cherry blossom. The symbolism of the cherry blossom is abundant in Japan. The cherry blossom tree is also known as the Japanese cherry or "Sakura" (which means "cherry blossoms").
  • Haiku poetry originated in Japan. Haiku consists of just three lines, with the first line being 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the 3rd line 5 syllables. 
  • Shigeichi Negishi, a Japanese engineer, created the first karaoke-like machine in 1967, using 8-track tapes and booklets for the lyrics. However, he was not successful in distributing his "Sparko Box" machines. 
  • Then, in the early 1970s, a Japanese musician, Daisuke Inoue, marketed tape machines, taped music, and amplifiers to bars to accompany regular people who wanted to get up on stage and sing, and his karaoke business model took off. 
  • Japan produces the most robotics globally. The ASIMO is a human-like robot created by Japanese engineers of Honda Motor Company in 2000. The acronym stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.
  • Sumo wrestling is Japan's national sport, and like sumo, other martial arts originated in Japan, including karate, judo, kendo, jujutsu, and aikido. Western sports such as baseball, basketball, and soccer are also popular.
  • Since the 8th century, Coming of Age Day has been a holiday to celebrate a young person reaching the age of maturity—20 years old in Japan. Their special day serves to encourage them as they realize their adulthood. 
  • The Japanese tea ceremony is considered a traditional art in Japan, and some practice it as a hobby to share with family and friends. Tea was brought to Japan from China in the 9th century by a Buddhist monk. It is said that the ritual of drinking green tea began as a way for the monks to keep awake during meditation.
  • Japan has about four million vending machines, the highest per capita worldwide. The machines sell everything from hotdogs to underwear and soup to umbrellas!
  • In addition to sushi, other Japanese dishes include "soba" (thin buckwheat noodles), "teriyaki" (broiled or grilled seafood or meat with a soy sauce glaze), "tempura" (battered and deep-fried seafood, meat, and veggies), and yakitori (skewered grilled chicken). 
  • Many kids and adults enjoy bento boxes, which are lunch boxes filled with sushi and other snacks. Bento boxes are an experience with texture, shapes, and flavors!

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Japan?

  • Most school children in Japan wear uniforms, and their school breaks are shorter than in other countries. 
  • Kids have to learn 1,026 basic kanji characters by the time they finish sixth grade.
  • Parents and schools teach kids to respect their elders, teachers, and each other.
  • Primary school kids eat lunch together in their classrooms. A few students are assigned to get the lunches, serve them to their classmates, and return the dirty dishes to the school kitchen. Every student prepares themselves for lunch by cleaning their desks and washing their hands. In some schools they even put on a lunch uniform—a white garment and hat—to protect their clothes.
  • Some of the sports and martial arts kids participate in are baseball, soccer, swimming, judo, kendo, and karate.
  • School lunch may consist of rice or noodles, soup, fish or meat, fruit, salad, a cup of tea, and always a bottle or carton of milk.  
  • Two popular sweet treats kids in Japan like are "mochi," a molded cake made of rice, sugar, cornstarch, and water, sometimes with a sweet red bean filling, and "Pocky," a brand of chocolate-coated biscuit sticks.

The Yolk's On You

My cell phone got wet, so I put it in rice, but I don't think it's working.

The soy sauce just made things worse!

Lettuce Joke Around

With what did the scuba-diver use to harvest seaweed?

A sea-saw!

The Yolk's On You

What is a foots’ favorite food? 


The Yolk's On You

What did one rice say to the other rice? 

"I hope I see you a-grain!"

The Yolk's On You

How can you tell when seaweed is in trouble?

It yells, "Kelp!"

The Yolk's On You

Did you hear the tall tale about rice? 

There wasn’t a grain of truth behind it!

The Yolk's On You

Why did the Tofu cross the road? 

To prove he wasn’t chicken!

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