In this 7th grade humanities lesson, students make vegetable sushi and explore how Japan’s geography has influenced its diet and culture.
After this lesson, students will be able to:
- Cut vegetables into appropriate shapes and sizes
- Articulate the importance of seasonality
- Adjust seasoning and ingredients to their preference
During this lesson, students will:
- Cut vegetables into a julienne and at an angle
- Recognize ingredients as being in season
- Refine tasting skills
For the Chef Meeting
- Maki Sushi recipe
- Ingredients and tools for demonstration
- Visual aid
• For the Maki Sushi
• Seasonal vegetables
• Nori (dried seaweed sheets)
• Sprouted mung beans
• Pickled ginger
• Soy sauce
• For the Sushi Rice Dressing
• Sushi rice
• Rice vinegar
- Vegetable peeler
- Crinkle cutter
- Offset spatula
- Chefs’ knives
- Paring knives
- Cutting boards
- Measuring spoons
- Electric griddle
Before You Begin
- Collect all the tools and ingredients, and then distribute them to the tables
- Gather supplies for the Chef Meeting
- Create the visual aid
- Copy the Maki Sushi recipe to hand out
- Cook the rice
- Prepare the Sushi Rice Dressing and add it to the rice
At the Chef Meeting
- Welcome students and introduce Maki Sushi as an example of how food can be influenced by geography. Review Japan’s defining geographical feature (it is an island) and emphasize how that shaped its diet and culture.
- Explain that making Maki Sushi gives students an opportunity to practice their knife skills and techniques, which will be helpful for the upcoming Iron Chef competition.
- Introduce all of the ingredients and show students how they will look once they are prepared.
- Explain that each ingredient for the sushi will be prepared separately and kept in a different bowl. At the table, the various ingredients will be passed around, so that each student can choose their own ingredients. Students each eat the sushi that they make. Emphasize that this lesson is an opportunity for students to discover their own favorite combination of flavors and textures.
- Ask students to wash their hands and join their table group.
At the Table
- Meet with the table groups to review the recipe and assign jobs.
- Explain that for the sushi, the vegetables should be cut into small, thin pieces. Review cutting at an angle and demonstrate julienning.
- Prepare the recipe.
- Set the table; offer chopsticks; eat; clean up.
At the Closing Circle
Ask each student to share the combination of ingredients he or she used and why.