Cooking Around the World - JAPAN

Around the World in 12 Dishes

Welcome to "Around The World in 12 Dishes". We will be taking you on a journey around the world, exploring 12 different countries with our children, by cooking 12 dishes with them. One for each country we visit. We started our journey the same way Phileas Fogg did in London, UK, and Stockholm, Sweden continued on to Moscow in Russia and then, New Delhi, capital of the exotic sub-continent of India!  Our stop this month is in Japan!

Here's where we've traveled so far on our journey...
 Now I have to admit that my family has never "really" been to Japan.  In fact, we don't know much about this country and are excited to learn more about it this week.  We were fortunate to be able to take a trip to Walt Disney World's Theme park of Epcot this year and are using the pictures and information we learned from the day there to springboard our learning!  If you have the chance to take a Disney vacation, Epcot is a great place for traveling "around the world" in a very short amount of time! No time for a Disney Vacation this week?  Travel there virtually, by stopping over at National Geographic for Kids website for kid friendly pictures and facts about Japan. Here is another site with fact for kids and lots about Japanese food!

For our Japanese Cooking adventure, we decided to try Handrolled Sushi with a
 I thought this would be a great way to get the kids in the kitchen cooking AND another way to offer healthy vegetables.  The book, "A Cook's Journey to Japan," by Sarah Marx Feldner provided us with a guide on how to make Sushi Rice, the ingredients needed, and the directions on how to make them!  The pictures in this book are absolutely georgeous and the explanations on ingredients and directions are easy to follow - even if I didn't know where to buy them all!  For those of you experienced Sushi rollers - this probably seems like a no-brainer to you.  I am not at all an expert, rather, the most novice Asian chef ever.  This was a challenge for me and completely different than the type of cooking I am used too!
 I was pretty excited when my rice turned out looking just like the pictures of hers on page 29!  It is the small things in life that bring joy =)  I sent the kids out to pick the herbs that we had available in the garden.  It called for optional Shiso leaves, but I don't know that herb, so I am pretty sure it didn't grow in our garden!  We opted for chives and cilantro as a substitute!  We tried Basil in a few, but the flavor was not right!
 Since we are visiting Grandma and Grandpa, they joined in the fun too!  It was REALLY nice having a couple extra hands to help in the kitchen!  We made sure to bring out our book to show the kids the connection between what we were making and the cookbook.  (The kids also went to the library with us to pick out a stack of Japanese Cookbooks.) My mom read through the steps and we followed her, well, Sarah's instructions.

Our rolls didn't turn out as pretty as store bought ones, but they were definately yummy and a little more budget friendly!  My 5 year old built and ate 2 rolls.  My 2 year old said, "This is yucky.  Me no like it." and proceeded to spit it out on his plate!

Suspecting that this may be his opinion, we didn't count on Sushi to be our only Japanese dish.  Using Japanese Buckwheat noodles, Soba, we made a ginger and soy sauce chicken and vegetable stir fry with fresh veggies from the garden.  It turned out fabulous (even the 2 year old ate it) and I think I have found a new staple for my kitchen pantry.  The noodles are quick to cook and have a delightful nutty flavor! We were overall very happy with our short trip to Japan and look forward to learning more about the country this month!

Would you like to join in the fun???

The only mandatory part is the dish, the rest is all up to you, we just thought it would be fun and more concrete to the kids as to why we are making a unusual dish.
  • Cook a dish from Japan: The goal is to explore this country through FOOD and activities if you wish. Make a typical dish (sweet or savoury) from the country with the kids, take photos and have fun!
  • Typical dishes: Sushi, Gohan, Chicken Yakitori, Gyoza, Sukiyaki, Yakisoba.
  • Print your passport: Click here to download, comes with space for a photo of the child with the dish. Here is a little cover for it if you wish :)
  • Color a placemat: Once colored/painted or whatever other way you want to do this, you can laminate it or put it between clear contact paper to use it over and over. Great conversation piece for you and your kids. Click here to download it.
  • Make a craft: you can make a country related craft with the kids [optional!]
  • Read a book: We recommend "K is for Kabuki".
  • Fun fact: Many of the western style toilets in Japan have a built-in bidet system for spraying your backside.
  • Share with us: Our Japan challenge starts on July 1st and will remain open for a year, so attach a link to your blog to enter the linky party or go to the comment section and post a photo together with what you did together with your child(ren).
  • Pinterest: We will add your photos to a "Around the World in 12 Dishes" Pinterest Boards (one for the dishes, one for the crafts) you will be a great source of inspiration for everyone :)
  • Are you a blogger? Let your fans know about the challenge and grab our cute lil’ button to share it on your blog.
Around the World in 12 Dishes
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Around the world in 12 Dishes" width="125" height="125" /></a>

Please link up your Japanese dish and/or craft in our linky below, we would love to see it!
If you do this, we’d LOVE to see a photo of it. Email it to us or post it on our Facebook page.


  1. Great post! I love the non nonchalance of it :)

  2. I'll have to check out that book because I love sushi rice!

  3. Getting perfect rice is what makes me nervous to try my own sushi making at home. Looks like this was a success!

  4. I love it!! thanks for sharing! We'll be checking out all your dishes for sure!

  5. SUCH a great idea! I'm definitely inspired to try this with the kids. I think they'd enjoy this new method cooking, and it might possibly get some more veggies in them!


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