Smoked trout sushi balls for squeamish kids

Getting your kids to eat sushi is a double edged sword. On one hand, you can be smug that they are eating just about the healthiest food on the planet. On the other, sushi is hugely addictive and eye-wateringly expensive. Those little sushi belts that dance around in front of you carrying oh-so-tiny platelets loaded with a few tasty morsels, are too darn easy to inhale, and when kids get the taste for it, they'll demolish a whole conveyor belt in about ten minutes, leaving a huge hole in your purse. Great that they want sushi above junk, but ouch, it costs.

This is when you need to make your own. I was nervous of DIY sushi because it looked so, well, expert. It's not, although the rice takes time to prepare, so do it when you're at home pottering around. If you are lucky enough to own a rice cooker, you don't have to bother with the rice soaking stuff, you just pop it in and away you go

Using smoked trout came about when the kids were in their experimental fish stage, whenthey were happy to eat smoked fish but drew the line at the fresh stuff. So I made it with smoked trout, as unlike raw fish I could put it in lunchboxes with a sachet of soy sauce. Trout isn't cheap, but you only use very small amounts for sushi so a little goes a long way.

This recipe is a variation on basic nigiri, which is simply rice with fish or vegetables and the balls are easy to eat with fingers if the little darlings aren't chopstick wielding just yet.

2 cups sushi rice

85ml rice vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

100g smoked salmon, diced

10cm cucumber chopped into 1cm matchsticks,

soy sauce

Preserved ginger

Optional wasabi

Preparing sushi rice isn't difficult, but it does take time between stages. Rinse the rice  thoroughly in a sieve. Use your hands to move it around to get out the starch out. It may take several washes, but when the water runs clear,  drain and place in a saucepan with the lid on. Leave to sit for an hour.

Add two cups of tap water to the pan and bring to the boil. As soon as it starts boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover tightly. Simmer for 20 minutes then don't take the lid off, just turn the heat off and let it sit for another 20 minutes. While it is standing mix the vinegar. salt and sugar together and stir to dissolve.

Transfer the rice to a big, preferably plastic mixing bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and with a wooden spoon cool it down by making chopping movements through the rice. You want to cool it down by 'slicing' or chopping the rice, rather than turning it over as it keeps the grains intact and stops it becoming mushy.

When the rice has completely cooled, cover with a lid or place in a Tupperware. Sushi rice dries out quickly so it's good to keep it covered while you work

Now, bring in the kids and give them each a bowl of water and a plate. Using wet hands, each child needs to make a ping pong ball sized piece of rice by rolling it gently around in their palms. When it is roughly the right shape, break it open and insert a few pieces of salmon and cucumber inside

Remake the ball so that there is no filling showing. Continue until the rice is finished. Serve with bowls of soy, ginger and wasabi for the more adventurous