Choices on family meals can contribute to healthier, more environmentally-sustainable food systems – sushi is no exception! Overfishing, destructive fishing gear and destructive fish farming methods put our aquatic ecosystems at risk. By purchasing sushi made from fish that are caught or farmed using environmentally-friendly practices, you can support the health of our lakes and oceans while ensuring your kids will have a robust seafood supply in their future. As a parent, how can you translate these big ideas to your young eater? Step away from the fish sticks and pick up a bamboo mat: it’s time to get cooking!

Get the Guide: On your family’s next grocery run, bring Shedd Aquarium’s pocket-sized Right Bite Sustainable Seafood Wallet Guide. This color-coded guide is a kid-friendly way to get your children involved in the kitchen, creating opportunities for them to learn what makes certain fish sustainable. Parents can use the guide to ask questions about fish at the seafood counter, frozen food aisle, or canned food section. This month’s recipe utilizes a local “best choice” fish called lake whitefish that comes straight from our neighboring Great Lakes. 

Choose Wisely: The wallet guide is a great starting point for families who wish to become seafood-savvy. For example, lake whitefish has healthy, abundant populations in lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron. Commercially, the fish is most often caught with a trap-net—fishing gear that does not cause excess bycatch (the accidental catch of other aquatic species). This month’s recipe utilizes a smoked fish instead of raw to simplify sushi and make it safer for young eaters. Other great choices for homemade sushi include pole-caught albacore tuna, Pacific sardines and smoked rainbow trout. Don’t see these items on the shelves? Be sure to ask for it!

Have Fun: With so many sustainable options, the wallet guide is a great way to expand your children’s palates. For picky eaters, create a “Fish of the Month” wheel on the refrigerator to introduce new food on a planned schedule. Celebrate a monthly family cooking night where you try new sustainable seafood dishes, like the recipe below. Cooking is fun and interactive, which can make new flavors less daunting to young chefs. For more recipes, check out our Fish of the Month page.

These mindful, interactive shopping and cooking activities will help your child feel more comfortable learning about food in the future. Use these simple actions to start connecting the dots between dinnertime and healthy environments at an early age.

Shedd guests learning how to make Smoked Lake Whitefish RollSmoked Lake Whitefish Roll
Makes 6 to 8 maki rolls

For Rice:
2 cups sushi rice 
2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar 
1 teaspoon salt

1. Place rice in bowl and cover with water, swirling the rice. Pour off and repeat 2 times to remove some starch. 
2. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add rice. After 2 to 3 minutes, place on low heat and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir to prevent rice from sticking to pot and add extra water as needed.
3. Prepare sushi vinegar by mixing rice vinegar, sugar and salt in saucepan over low heat. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Let cool.
4. Pour vinegar mixture over the rice, gently folding to incorporate. Keep warm.

Close up of sushi rollFor rolls:
2 smoked lake whitefish filets
1 package nori
1 sweet potato, diced
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 apple, sliced into one-inch pieces 
Chives, to taste
Materials: ice cold water, bamboo sushi mat, sharp knife

1. In a pot, boil diced sweet potatoes in water. Cook until sweet potato is soft, about 8-10 minutes and drain water. Let cool in bowl. Mash and add maple syrup.
2. Place a sushi mat down on a clean cutting board with the slats running horizontally. Place a nori sheet, shiny-side down on the mat.
3. Use wet hands to spread a thin layer of rice evenly over the nori sheet, leaving a 2 centimeter border along the furthest edge from you.
4. Arrange the fillings across the center of the rice. Do not overstuff the roll!
5. Pick up the edge of the mat closest to you and gently begin to roll the mat over to enclose, using forefingers to keep fillings inside the roll.
6. Wet 2 centimeter border and enclose roll like envelope
7. Shape your hands around the mat to gently tighten the roll.
8. Use a wet very sharp knife to cut into 1 inch pieces.
9. Arrange sushi on a serving platter and serve with pickled ginger and wasabi

Posted by Kassia Perpich, sustainability