If your family is like mine, various members spent large swaths of the summer hunting Pokémon in your neighborhood and, perhaps, further abroad (my sister-in-law sent the kids pics of various critters inhabiting landmarks throughout Italy). As the weather has gotten colder, we’ve traded in some of our Pokéwalks for Minecraft sessions but that isn’t to say the kids’ interest in the critters has waned. They’ve continued to play with their Pokéfigures and to sculpt their own from modeling clay ands set them about various adventures.
They were pretty excited when they found out they were going to get to eat them too.
The Pokémon Cookbook: Easy and Fun Recipes by Maki Kudo is a great little book with adorable cooking projects which not only get the kids measuring and stirring but also introduce the whole family to Japanese ingredients and prep techniques they might otherwise not encounter, well… ever, depending on how widely ranging everyone’s tastes are (my husband and I are lucky in that we’re able, and interested, in ranging as widely as possible, as is the girl child, but the boy has historically been a bit pickier due to some sensory issues. Though those have resolved to some extent as he’s gotten older but he’s still hesitant much of the time; in Pokemon form, however, he was willing to try cabbage, which he had previously only started at suspiciously, and actually asked me to make him the Pikachu omelet when he he has likewise been wary of eggs).
The Sondheimers decided the best way to make a first foray into Pokéfood was to make an event of it and plan a Pokéfeast. Each member of the family picked a dish (my husband picked two) from The Pokémon Cookboook; our smorgasbord ended up including the aforementioned Pikachu omelet (boy), the Carnivine Stuffed Cabbage (hubs), the Diglett Potato Field(girl), the Pokeball Sushi (hubs), and the Slowpoke Strawberry Mochi Balls (me). That last didn’t end up on the table as preparation of the other dishes took a bit longer than anticipated and the head chef (aka: me) was out of energy due to bronchitis and a rousing, pre-preparation game of Ticket to Ride.
A good portion, if not all, of each recipe, is prepared on the microwave, which definitely shaves off the clean-up time at the end and makes the preparation much more viable, and safer, for little, and less coordinated hands wishing to participate. The only things for which I used the stove, and hence pots and pans, for were the sushi rice and the sausage that goes into the omelet’s accompanying ketchup rice (which is really surprisingly delicious).
If you’re intimidated by the decorative aspects of these projects, rest easy; I won’t claim my dishes looked exactly like the photos in the book, they were close enough for rock and roll and the pleasing of tiny, demanding humans.
And if some of the recipes are time consuming and have a long list of steps, well, it’s time well spent; not only did the four and seven year olds help me spear the Digletts, the four year old helped me roll the sushi. And now, she’s addicted to kani. My son’s interest in cooking with me has waned over the last year or so but preparing some of his favorite characters in edible form brought him back into the kitchen and my daughter, who loves to cook with me but who has four-year old coordination, which means denying her many stove top tasks for safety reasons, could participate pretty much at will in the meal prep. She was so proud of her contributions and so excited to share them with her dad and her brother. And that, in turn, gave me a heck of a lot of joy.
My only other caveat is: if you don’t have an Asian market nearby, it may be a tad bit challenging to locate a few of the more specialized ingredients. Those which are shelf stable (the great majority) can be ordered from an online retailer; those that aren’t can be substituted (we ended up at the Chinese market instead of the Japanese one and there was a seasoning I couldn’t locate, meaning I needed another way to turn half of the sushi rice red. I used raspberry juice).
The Pokémon Cookbook: Easy & Fun Recipes by Maki Kudo (Viz Media) is a great way to bring the entire family together for a project and a meal. An excellent holiday gift for any chef or Pokémon lover on your list!
(Shiri received a review copy of The Pokemon Cookbook: Easy and Fun Recipes in exchange for an honest review)