HANCOCK - For many teens, sushi can be a hard concept to work around: The aversion to the idea of raw fish, or the texture of seaweed.
But students at the BRIDGE Alternative High School tried their hand at tasting, and in some cases making, the Japanese dish during a session with Portage Health chef Mark Pittillo Monday.
It's part of an ongoing program at the school on making healthy food choices on a budget. It included lessons on nutrition; basic cooking skills; introduction to specific dishes using grains, fruits and vegetables and proteins; healthy drinks and snacks; and the foods of different cultures. The program was created through the Portage Community Health Endowment Fund.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Mark Pittillo of Portage Health and BRIDGE Alternative High School students Tyler Beuchert and Jaclyn Schutz make sushi during a session at the school Monday. The class is part of a program at the school teaching students how to make healthy eating choices on a budget.
For their final project, students will plan a menu for a meal or cooking for a large group. Groups of four will create a menu for a cook-off; the winner will cook with Pittillo for the Keweenaw Community Foundation board.
"From the beginning, talking about tobacco use, and then incorporating exercise, basic nutrition, information to make healthy choices, has inspired a lot of conversation," said Arnie Kinnunen of the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department.
Pittillo demonstrated the basics of sushi-making before turning it over to 11th-grader Tyler Beuchert and 12th-grader Jaclyn Schutz.
The chefs rolled out seaweed or a gluten-free soy wrapper over a bamboo mat, then spread rice and other toppings, such as tuna or shrimp, before rolling up the mat. The roll was then closed by applying water on the opening.
The students then sampled the results, along with the typical accompaniments of ginger, soy sauce and wasabi.
It was the first time eating or making sushi for Beuchert.
"It was a blast," he said. "I had fun doing that."
The same was true of Schutz.
"I thought it was going to be gross, but it was good," she said.
Eleventh-grader James Lampela had tried sushi before. He said the program has been great.
"Education, fun, get to learn new recipes, bring it home," he said.
Beuchert and Schutz agreed.
"I think it's really interesting," Schutz said. "It shows us how to cook a lot of different things that I never would have known about otherwise."
Beuchert said he's most interested in making the seafood dishes.
"I want to try stuff from different cultures, that's for sure," he said.