Sushi for picnics and more from “The Sushi Lover’s Cookbook”: Easy-to-prepare sushi for every occasion


Taking sushi on a picnic may not be the first choice of many Americans, but it is a favorite in Japan and Yumi Umemura’s new cookbook shows us why.

“Sushi was a special part of my childhood,” the Tokyo native recalls in The Sushi Lover’s Cookbook. “I remember my mother used to prepare sushi on my birthday, for school picnics, and on sports festival days.” And, some of her take-along recipes offer very interesting, tasty fare for dining al fresco.

Start by understanding that sushi is not raw fish. In fact, the name refers to the rice that was once used to preserve fresh fish.

A thousand years ago in Asia fish was preserved by packing it in cooked rice in sealed jars. The rice would ferment preserving the fish and when the fish was eaten, the rice was discarded. This process found its way to Japan and by the fifteenth century, people let the fish/rice mixture process for shorter periods of time making the fish fresher and the rice palatable. Eventually they began to eat the rice with the preserved fish. Today, sushi refers to the rice that is now cooked and mixed with saké and kelp to provide that fermented, fish flavor instantly.

Umemura offers a wide variety of sushi dishes from kebobs to salads, wraps, rolls, and canapés. She goes beyond the usual salmon, eel, and tuna choices to sushi with prosciutto and melon, chicken and Japanese onions, roasted peppers, roast beef, barbecued pork, and even egg sheets.

The author explains, “While (raw fish) is a common sushi ingredient, many types of real Japanese sushi do not include raw fish – or any fish at all. In fact, some popular varieties of sushi are vegetarian-friendly.”

While her book includes a few recipes using raw fish, many do not. Yakitori Sushi Skewers is one good example. Here sushi rice balls, pieces of chicken, and chunks of long onions are alternated on skewers, grilled, then brushed with a yakitori sauce for a whole new look at outdoor cooking. Or Egg-Wrapped Sushi with Mushrooms is an easy portable treat using egg sheets to wrap a mushroom/sushi rice mixture in bundles tied with long chives for a colorful, edible package. Peking Duck Sushi wraps this Chinese treat in a package with sushi rice and uses Sweet Peking Miso Sauce for dipping – another portable dish that is definitely not ordinary picnic fare.

There are also Paella Sushi, Taco Sushi, Korean Kimchi Sushi Rolls, and Sushi Canapés nicely served in pastry shells. And, Sushi Pizza, Pork Cutlet Tonkatsu Sushi, Cabbage and Sausage Sushi Rolls, and Thai Shrimp Sushi Parcels. In fact, after going through The Sushi Lover’s Cookbook, the world of sushi opens up to include touches of cuisines from every continent.

The Sushi Lover’s Cook- book was published last month by Tuttle Publishing and has a hardcover price of $34.95. It is filled with outstanding photos by Noboru Murata, and is easy to read with recipes that range from very easy to moderately complex.

With all the recent sushi cookbooks flooding the market, this one stands out as a new look at this delightful cuisine.

Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the website at

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