SUSHI is probably one of the fattest reasons why I am still living in Japan. Sometimes when I feel under the weather, I’d walk into a sushi conveyor belt resto to spend some me time. It is the most basic, yet delicious, delicacy in Japan, period. A piece of raw fish plopped on top of what seemed to be skillfully mould mochi mochi rice. Sushi moment is THE moment, when you savour the purest form of sweetness and wonder what you have done in life to deserve this bliss. But I just can’t help but cringe when I witness devils eating them the wrong way!
Are you guilty of dipping sushi into the soy sauce thoughtlessly? Rice is like sponge – once you dip that part of the sushi into the soy sauce, it’s a gone case. You can admit it, but I have to say it’s a crime to have sushis this way!
But first, let us explore what sushi types are there. Because this is not the crux of my guide here, I’ll introduce just the broad categories today – Sashimi, Maki, Nigiri.
Probably the most widely used word with sushis, Sashimis are raw fish served without rice. This is recommended for people who love to savour just the fish alone.[PICS Maki]
Makis refer to sushis that have their rice and fillings (could be fish, or even random things like cucumber and natto) wrapped in seaweed. They are what people usually call the ‘sushi rolls’. We can dive deeper into the subsets of makis such as temaki, uramaki, gunkanmaki next time if we get the chance to talk about sushis again.[PICS Gunkan maki – fish roe] [PICS Nigiri – Salmon, with radish topping]
Nigiri (握り the kanji means to grasp, to grip) refers to a slab of topping, usually raw fish, served on top of rice that had been shaped by the sushi chef.
So what common mistakes do people make?[PICS Dipping-sushi-in-habanero-soy-sauce.jpg: La Fuji Mama]
- Dipping the entire rice into soy sauce
- Too much soy sauce
- Eating the sushi together with the ginger
How should we have sushis the right way?
For Nigiri, most chefs recommend to first topple the sushi 90 degrees, then dip the fish part into your soy sauce and have it in the upright position. But I often feel that the taste of the soy sauce is too strong and it overpowers the sweetness of the fish itself. What I do, and recommend:
- Grab a piece of ginger and dip into the soy sauce, then
2. Glaze your fish with the soaked ginger to give it a slight brush,
3. Pick it up with your chopsticks, and overturn it 180 degrees such that you are eating the fish overturned, with the sashimi at the bottom of the sushi, in direct contact with your tongue. Most people don’t do this because they might never have thought of it. I might have heard this from some sushi master, or I might have invented this way of eating. Bottom line is, you never want to over dip your sushi in soy sauce and you want the maximum taste from the sashimi! Brushing the ginger on the fish instead of dipping it directly is the recipe for the perfect blend.[PICS Tokyo Table Trip]
The same concept applies to sashimi alone too. Use the soaked ginger for the glazing effect on your fish then have them instead of dipping the whole slice into your soy sauce saucer.
For Makis, they are a little more tricky. You have no choice but soak the rice within the seaweed to some extent. Make sure you only tap the slice of soaked ginger until you are satisfied with the amount of soy sauce on your Maki. But always remember, it is never good to have too much soy sauce. It really destroys the taste and I cannot emphasize this enough!
What is the purpose of ginger and when should we eat it?[PIC Ginger with Wasabi]
When you are pouring different types of seafood and other cooked food all at once, you probably overwork your taste buds and you might get confused from all the tastes in your mouth. The purpose of ginger is for you to clear your taste bud before trying out another sushi. So it is recommended to take a piece of plain ginger, without dipping into soy sauce, before having another sushi of a different taste.
Where should we place the Wasabi?
Most sushi chefs have already inserted an adequate amount of wasabi in between the fish and rice in Nigiri. However, you may ask them to not include them should you find it hard to accept the taste. Wasabi is sort of an acquired taste, so don’t worry if you are not up for it. For pure sashimi and maki, mix a small portion of wasabi with soy sauce and either dip carefully, or use ginger to brush on them. Make sure not to mix the wasabi in your soy sauce such that it looks like a pool of muddy algae.
Should we eat the sushi whole or can we take a few bites?
Sushis are designed in a way that you can take it whole. Always do that for the maximum tasting effect.
That’s all for now! Stay tuned to our post on my most recommended sushi restaurant in Tokyo!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Let’s not let it slip our minds that it is rice we are eating. You may forget just how many pieces you have indulged in and find yourself overeating. IMO, 5 pieces of nigiri sushi should well equate to a bowl of rice (250 kcal). This should serve as a good gauge for you.