GeekMom: Make/Play/Watch/Read: Roll Up for International Sushi Day!

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Stop what you’re doing. Today (June 18) is International Sushi Day. We’re celebrating all things sushi. The rice, the vinegar, and, yes, there will be seafood. It’s easy to make, easy to play with, and there are movies and books to inspire. I will warn you, however. There will also be sushi puns. Just roll with it, okay?

Make: Sushi Rice for Spam Musubi

The things you learn in the name of research: Spam musubi. I didn’t even know this was a thing. Since asking around, I have now learned it is a popular snack in Hawaii! It has also been linked with survivors of Japanese American internment camps in mainland USA. As an out-of-towner, I had no idea. BUT I do like Spam and I do like sushi. You can find recipes for making sushi all over the internet (along with the obligatory “story of my life” intro to go with it). I am far more interested in this variation.

Dive into the GeekMom archives and you will find a hoard of treasure, including this recipe with a brief guide on making Spam musubi. Bonus tip: The secret to good sushi (and good Spam musubi) is in the rice. Sushi chefs spend most of their time learning the skills for making GREAT sushi rice. However, I have been advised by a Japanese-American friend, there is a big difference between sushi and Spam musubi: the rice is prepared differently. You still use the same short-grain rice (it is stickier than others) but where vinegar and sugar are added to sushi rice, musubi rice is left plain or lightly salted at most.

sushi spam musubi
Image of sushi spam musubi / Looks surprisingly good!

Also, don’t skimp on the seaweed. Good quality seaweed is thicker than the snacking variety also available. It is slightly tougher and coarser but with less roughness to the touch.

Now I’m hungry… Let’s go try this Spam musubi.

Play: Sushi Roll From GameWright

Sushi Roll is a slight variation on the infamous Sushi Go!, a very popular game with geek families around the world. Go on any game-schooling or geek parenting forum and I guarantee you someone will recommend Sushi Go! It’s universally loved by all geek-playing families. 

Sushi Roll Components, Image Sophie Brown
‘Sushi Roll’ Components, Image Sophie Brown

Fellow GeekMom Sophie provided an awesome review of Sushi Roll for International Sushi Day in 2020 (you can read it here). In brief, it’s a dice-rolling game for 2-5 players. It’s a quick game of 20 minutes, played over three rounds, and easy enough for most kids to pick up. It feels a bit like Yahtzee, in the way you use combinations of dice to collect sets of items and score points.

A couple of sweet features for this game: I love the unique dice sets!! They are designed specifically for this game, with images to match the items you are looking for. In comparison with the original Sushi Go!, the dice add a level of chance that may or may not be welcome. Personally, I love a bit of luck… if I ever find it (dice hate me). For families, the dice rolling might give the younger members a fighting chance.

Watch: East Side Sushi (Amazon Prime)

Sushi has always been popular in Japan but it BOOMED into the mainstream with the introduction of Sushi Trains in the 1990s. While there are still plenty of purists out there who love the traditional menu, there is a growing fanbase for new creative fusion menus. And why not? We live in a multicultural society—that’s how we end up with sushi in the mainstream! However, it has not been an easy journey for people to accept these new ideas. East Side Sushi captured this perfectly with its funny and poignant story.

East Side Sushi cover image

East Side Sushi stars Diana Elizabeth Torres and was released in 2014 by HBO (currently available through Amazon Prime). Torres plays Juana, a single Mexican-American who lives with her young daughter and her widowed father in East Oakland, California. Juana is struggling to find sustainable work, from tending her father’s fruit cart to working at Mexican taquerias. Along the way, she has picked up the finest slicing-n-dicing skills I have seen outside a teppanyaki restaurant. Thanks to these skills, Juana scores a job as a sous chef at the Japanese restaurant Osaka.

Image from East Side Sushi
Image from East Side Sushi

Here in the kitchen, Juana finds her love for sushi and creating her own recipes. When the sushi chef at Osaka quits, Juana helps out with the hope she can have the role. However, the owner refuses because she is a woman and not Japanese. This fictional story gives us a real-life insight into how competitive the traditional side of sushi can be, balanced with a fusion of determination and creativity behind Juana’s dream of being a sushi chef. It opens up the discussion about where sushi has come from and where sushi is going into the future. While it is important to celebrate the history and cultural character of sushi (thanks to International Sushi Day), we should also allow it to grow and show us a path of even more enjoyment. East Side Sushi is a fantastic movie featuring beautiful full characters and a well-rounded story.

Read: The Way of the Househusband by Kousuke Oono

It’s been a hit on Netflix, but the book is always better. And in this case, the Netflix animated series is essentially a copy of the book, so read the manga! The Way of the Househusband is currently sitting at seven volumes and I’m only up to volume three!!!

The series is centered on Tatsu, a former Yakuza boss who has retired from crime to be a househusband to his wife, Miku—a career-focused designer. During the day, Miku heads off to work while Tatsu takes care of the home with the same skill and intensity he possessed as a crime lord.

Image from Netflix ‘The Way of the Househusband’ but it is almost exactly the same as the manga anyway

The Way of the Househusband is pure comedy (and, apparently, not an instruction manual *shrug*). Each issue gives us a glimpse of Tatsu performing some of the most boring domestic chores in complete contrast to his rather violent past. My favorite is his determination to prepare the perfect bento box with sushi for Miku’s lunch at work (close second is Tatsu’s yoga class with mob-inspired poses). As mentioned previously, sushi chefs can work on the perfect rice for years. I’m not sure exactly how long Tatsu has been working on it, but I’m pretty sure his results are because of his devoted commitment and not his kitchen apprenticeship.

International Sushi Day is the fine balance between past and future, rolled up in the crisp contrast of delicious distractions. Like any great sushi, it is easy to over-indulge and not realize how filling this topic can be. Pace yourself. Enjoy the tidbits. Find your own path and fuse it with the lessons of the past. Go catch the sushi train and see where it takes you!

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