No poetry today. Today we will talk about the best Japanese invention ever, Sushi!!! I am no Sushi expert but I am a Susi lover. Susi is on my list of foods that I call Day Changers, the kind of food that has the power to change a bad day into a good one. I mean after a long day of stubbing my toe, dropping my things, falling on my face, getting late everywhere, pointless arguments with cab drivers and cancellations of long-awaited plans, I could go to a good sushi place for dinner and come back home a happy woman. Day Changer! 🙂
Today I woke up and decided to educate my self about Sushi as thoroughly as possible. I can’t tell why I have no Sushi plans in near future but what I can tell you is everything you need to know about Sushi.
ORIGIN OF SUSHI
Let’s start at the beginning, did you know that although the Japanese rightfully call it their food as the sushi we eat today definitely originated in Japan but the inspiration of it came from Nare-zushi (fermented fish wrapped in sour rice) which originated in southeast Asia around the Mekong River and tasted a little like a sour cheese before Japan found it and did something amazing with it.
Sushi in Japan started as a street food and a cheap snack in movie theaters. (good old days!) The devastation from the earthquake of 1923 made real estate prices dropped so much that suddenly sushi chefs could afford brick-and-mortar restaurants bringing sushi and themselves off the street.
Sashimi and Sushi, not the same thing!
Sashimi is simply raw slices of fish without the rice typically served with soy sauce and wasabi paste. Sashimi isn’t necessarily is a fish either, it could also be raw slices of octopus or chicken. Loosely translated it means cut meat.
TYPES OF SUSHI
(Sushi becomes zushi when the type is specified)
It is the most popular type of sushi also called Maki Roll or Sushi roll. It is generally wrapped in Nori (seaweed), but can occasionally be wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber, or shsiso (perilla) leaves.
There are several variations of Makizushi or Sushi Rolls :
Hosomaki – Thin roll, rice on inside, nori on the outside
Chumaki – Medium roll, rice on inside, nori on the outside
Futomaki – Thick roll, rice on inside, nori on the outside, usually cut in thinner slices
Uramaki – Not a very traditional form of maki, it’s sushi inside-out, rice on the outside, nori on the inside wrapped around ingredients in the middle.
Temaki – A cone-shaped hand roll made of nori and filled with rice, fish and other ingredients.
- NigirizushiIt is the other very popular type of sushi meaning “hand-pressed sushi”. It is typically a rectangle/oval handmade strip of sushi rice with a swipe of wasabi on top, finished with a piece of fish expertly pressed to stick on top.
Nigiri should be eaten with the fingers with the fish side down so that it’s the fish that is dipped in soy and first touches the tongue and at the same time it keeps the rice from falling and you looking like a silly mess. Let’s face it we have all been there or have feared being there when we first started with sushi.
Meaning scattered sushi, it is not too common outside Japan. Chirashi is a type of Sushi served in a bowl with sushi rice and covered with various toppings of shashimi, vegetables and garnishing. The number of toppings varies but 9 seems to be a common number.
It is popular in Japanese homes because it is simple to make and ideal for using up leftovers.
- InarizushiFor those who like crispy food this is the sushi to try. It is a pouch of fried tofu (abura age) filled with Sushi Rice.
- OshizushiMeaning “pressed sushi”. It is also known as hako-sushi which means “box sushi”. A wooden mold, called oshibako is used to make a firm, rectangular box form of sushi which is then cut into squares, triangles of smaller rectangles.
That’s about all the traditional types of sushi you need to know about. These days they keep coming up with some fun versions of sushi, like sushi was not fun enough already but I am not complaining. 🙂
- Nori: The dried, black-and-green seaweed used in sheets to create sushi.
- Roe: Fish eggs put on top of sushi to add color, texture, and saltiness.
- Wasabi: A term used for the spicy, green paste provided with sushi. Real Japanese wasabi root is perishable and expensive, so dyed horseradish is often substituted instead.
- Gari: Sliced, pickled ginger served with sushi. Gari is used to clean the palette between different types of pieces. Ginger also aids digestion and helps to kill microbes in the raw fish.
- Hashi: The Japanese word for chopsticks. Chopsticks are used for eating sashimi; other forms of sushi could/should be eaten with the fingers and nigri should always be eaten with fingers.
- Sake: Properly pronounced “sah-keh” not “sah-key.” Fermented rice wine served either warm or cold. Sake can have an alcohol content as high as 20 percent. In some authentic sushi experiences, you can complement the chef by buying the two of you a shot of sake.
SEA FOOD USED IN SUSHI
- Maguro: Tuna (different words denote species and cuts of the tuna).
- Toro: The fattiest part of a bluefin tuna belly; usually the most expensive and sought-after piece.
- Hamachi: Yellowtail fish, often a Japanese amberjack.
- Saba: Mackerel
- Sake: Salmon
- Unagi: Freshwater eel; usually grilled rather than eaten raw.
- Anago: Sea eel.
- Tako: Octopus
- Ika: Squid
- Ebi: Shrimp
- Kani: Crab (real crab, not surimi)
- Hotate: Scallop
- Uni: Sea Urchin
- Mirugai: Clam
- Awabi: Abalone
- Tamago: Sweet egg; gyoku is used to refer to the sweet, square omelets.
- Surimi: Imitation crab or lobster meat made with fish paste. Kani kama is a term for imitation crab meat.
Ok! So, now that you have read this or have marked it on your phone, you are officially ready to take your date to a Sushi place and own that shit! 🙂
If you are looking for recommendations, here are some of the best Sushi places I have been to in different cities of India:
- Delhi – Setz, DLF Emporio
Yauatcha, Ambience Mall
- Gurgaon – Yum Yum Cha, Cyber Hub
- Mumbai – Yuuka, The St. Regis Mumbai
- Chennai – Sora Jima, The Accord Metropolitan
- Goa – Sakana
If there are places that you would like to recommend or share any fun Sushi facts and experience or if you have any further Sushi questions please do leave a comment.
Have a great day and if the day is shity, go have sushi! 😉