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SUSHI ETC.

Sushi Ingredients

Sushi savvy
Unwrapping the mysteries of this popular Japanese culinary export

Sushi has won over the palates of America.

The Japanese culinary import arrived in California in the '70s and worked its way east to most large cities. Now there are more than 5,000 sushi restaurants in the U.S. by one count. Last year, aficionados spent more than $36 million dollars just on the seaweed used in sushi rolls. There also is an ever-growing shortage of sushi chefs in this country, a situation expected to continue for years, according to Japan's National Sushi Society.

But despite sushi's growing popularity, it is still misunderstood by many people. Hopefully, this primer will help debunk myths and make sushi more approachable.

What is sushi?

Many newcomers to sushi think it is simply raw fish with rice. But raw fish represents only a part of the various toppings or fillings served with the vinegar-seasoned short-grain rice. The topping or filling also can be cooked seafood, as well as meat or vegetables.

Cooked fish used for sushi include smoked eel, smoked salmon, imitation crab and shrimp. Also used are carrots, cucumbers--even Spam.

On the American sushi scene, two kinds are most common: nigiri sushi and maki sushi. Nigiri sushi is the Japanese rendition of an open-faced sandwich. The topping and rice are hand-formed into bite-size pieces and served in pairs.

Maki sushi is the Japanese rendition of a rolled-up sandwich. A regular roll has nori (a seaweed also called sea laver) on the outside wrapped around a filling. A reverse roll, on the other hand, is when the rice is on the outside--as in a California roll. Rolls are served in six to eight bite-size pieces.

What to order

Many people are confused about ordering and eating sushi. It is amazingly simple. Order a sashimi (sah-SHEE-me) appetizer--an assorted platter of sliced pieces of cooked and raw fishes. Sashimi comes from the same fillet used for sushi and offers a good preview of what will be good in the sushi. Base your sushi order on what you like in the sashimi.

The sashimi comes with pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi paste (a green-dyed horseradish powder reconstituted with water). Mix wasabi with soy sauce in a small porcelain dish on the table. Dip a single piece of sashimi with chopsticks into the soy/wasabi mixture. Then put it onto your tongue and chew it slowly to savor the flavor. The amount of wasabi to dab on is up to you: It is very hot, so start with a small amount.

The pink slices of pickled ginger are to be eaten between different cuts of fish. Much like a sorbet, ginger cleanses your palate so the previous sashimi or sushi flavor does not interfere with the next one.

Next up: Sushi

On to the sushi. Good choices for beginners, especially those leery of raw fish, are California rolls, egg sushi, imitation crab, shrimp, smoked salmon, smoked eel and tuna.

Then work up to the following on another visit: flying fish roe, geoduck, octopus, salmon caviar, fresh salmon, fresh squid, sea urchin roe, snapper and yellowtail.

Restaurants commonly offer specialties--usually reverse rolls with a combination of ingredients. Names might include dragon rolls, B-52s, banzai rolls, tiger eyes and rainbow rolls. The fillings will vary from restaurant to restaurant, even though they might have the same names.

Eating etiquette

When eating sushi, you can use chopsticks or your fingers. When using hands, prevent the rice from sticking onto your fingers by wetting them with a napkin soaked with a few drops of tea or water.

Just like sashimi, dip one piece of sushi into the soy/wasabi mixture. For nigiri sushi, turn the topping side of the sushi piece down so the topping supports the rice. Dip the topping side into the soy/wasabi mixture and then touch the dipped topping onto your tongue. The topping of the nigiri sushi will prevent the rice from falling when biting down. You may then take what is left between your fingers and dip into the mixture again. You may take as many bites as you wish without setting it down on the plate.

When eating, it is bad form to lick your fingers. The action would be analogous to someone licking sauce off the table knife while eating a Western meal.

Once you have eaten one type of sushi, pick up a slice of pickled ginger with your fingers and take a bite to cleanse your palate. Eating ginger in the same mouthful with sushi is a dead giveaway to the sushi chef and servers that you do not know sushi.

If you run out of the pickled ginger and wasabi, ask for more; it's free.

To round out the meal

The Japanese usually drink the soy bean (miso) soup or green tea that accompanies the meal. Most sushi chefs prefer to drink green tea, claiming that it helps one appreciate the true taste of sushi. Because the tea leaves a subtle bitterness on the tongue, anything eaten after that has an accentuated flavor.

When you're done with the sushi, order a cold or a warm noodle soup to round out the meal. Good sushi restaurants always have hearty noodle soups, such as udon or soba. Dessert is optional, but ice cream in green tea, ginger or red bean flavors is always a good choice.

 

SUSHI VOCABULARY

No, you don't need to learn Japanese to enjoy sushi. But, knowing some of the key words will make your experience feel more authentic (plus make an instant friend out of the sushi chef).

Arigato - Thank you

Arigato Gozaimashita - Final thank you at the end of the evening.

Daikon - Large, white Japanese radish used for garnish. Can be found in most Asian or Indian markets.

Gari - Picked ginger usually served at the corner of your sushi tray. Eat a small quantity between each different type of sushi. This clears the palate so you can better appreciate the tastes, textures and nuances of the next piece.

Hangiri - Large, flat-bottomed wooden mixing tub used for mixing rice with Tamanoi Sushinoko or the sushi vinegar mixture.

Hashi - Chopsticks

Inari-zushi - Sushi rice in fired tofu bags

Itamae-san - The Sushi Chef

Kanpai - The Japanese equivalent of "cheers," used when drinking.

Konbanwa - Good evening.

Maki-zushi - Rolled sushi

Nigiri-zushi - Hand-formed sushi, also called "finger sushi."

Nori - The sea vegetable used with rolled sushi.

O Kudasai - Please give me. First say the type of sushi you want, then o kudasai (example: "Tekka-maki o kudasai" means "Please give me a tuna roll"). There is usually a card on the table or at sushi bar showing the various types of sushi with their Japanese names.

Oma ka se - Chef's choice. This is like a magic word. It tells the chef to make you whatever he wants and is considered a great honor. You almost always get something extraordinarily good and lots of times you won't even be charged for it. Try it, it works!

Oyasumi nasai - Good night

Sumimasen - Excuse me

Sashimi - Fresh seafood, perfectly sliced and elegantly arranged.

Shamoji - Sushi rice paddle

Shoyu - Soy Sauce

Temaki-zushi - Ice cream cone shaped hand rolls

Uchiwa - Fan, used for fanning sushi rice.

Wasabi - Hot, green Japanese horseradish usually served on your sushi tray. Mix with shoyu and use to dip your sashimi or sushi.


HOW TO MAKE SUSHI VINEGAR

Ingredients for 2 Cups of Sushi Rice:

1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Mirin (Sweet Sake) -- optional

Mix ingredients together in a sauce pan, heat slowly and continue stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved with the vinegar. Do not boil. Let sit until room temperature before mixing with rice.

 


SUSHI LINKS BELOW HOW TO PAGES AND MORE!

http://www.learn-sushi.com/ COOL SITE! TUTORIAL TOO!

http://www.sushi.infogate.de/ ANOTHER COOL ONE!

http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/~ag/sushi/sushi.html

Sushi home site!

http://catalog.com/sushi/ new cool site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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