Japanese is fast becoming the hottest foreign cuisine in the country, shoving Chinese, Thai and Lebanese into the background. My first tryst with the much-famed Sushi was back in the year 2009, when I tried a few from a big box of sushi, rather apprehensively, during a family dinner at the Pan Asian, ITC, Kolkata. The box almost looked like an assorted candy box and the concept of cute, little, bite-sized rice-rolls really fascinated me. Since then, I have never missed a chance to have them.
Even a few years back, sushi was considered to be pretty elitist a food, and I actually had to hunt for them around the city, with only posh and fancy restaurants serving them. Now, people in general have become a lot more adventurous about food, and sushis have caught the fancy of many. Plus, being the oil-free, healthy blocks that they are, sushis got a lot of leverage from weight watchers too.
Even now, the name Sushi is most often equated with raw fish, which is not a very true apprehension. Just raw fish is Sashimi and live fish is Ikizykusi. However, though the word ‘Sushi’ has entered our vocab, the dish itself is still shrouded by misconceptions. ‘Sushi’ generally refers to rolls of vinegered rice with fish (whether raw or cooked) and/ or veggies (cucumber, avocado) etc. Most menus will have prawn, crab, tofu and egg omelette rolls too.
As I was reading up on Sushis I came across something pretty interesting. It is that some question the Japanese origin of sushi, and claim that it originated in South-East Asia, which now forms part of Thailand, and later spread to other parts of Asia, including Japan. What started as a method of preserving fish by packing them into cooked rice and vinegar, has now come to be a worldwide food fad.
I often see people very confused about how to eat a sushi, trying to take bites of it or making it too soggy with a lot of soya sauce. And in fact, I too was initially equally clueless about how to eat a sushi, and hence thought of writing down the basics.
How to eat:
1. The Pick-up Line
– There’s no trick here. Just pop the entire thing into your mouth at one go. please don’t have it in bites or cut it up with cutlery.
– You could pick it up with chopsticks or with your hand, both are fine, just don’t shove a fork into it.
2. What you put in it:
– Generally, wasabi and soya will be given along with the sushi. The soya sauce is to be poured into the small bowls provided specifically for that. Then the sushi can be dipped in it. But don’t overdo it or else the sushi itself might just disintegrate in the pool of sauce. Dip the nori wrap or fish in the soya, and not the rice directly, as the rice might soak up too much.
– The wasabi, which has a strong hit, is often mixed with the soya, so that the wasabi doesn’t knock one out. But if you aren’t afraid of the green monster, you could put a tiny bit of it directly over the sushi.
– It’s okay not to use either soya sauce or wasabi. In Nigiri for example, wasabi is anyway put between the fish and the rice, in an optimally calibrated amount by the chef and hence there isn’t any need to add any.
– The pickled ginger is a palate cleanser, and NOT to be placed on top of the sushi. It is to be had between different kinds of sushi, to fully appreciate the different tastes of each.
- Sushis are delicate, beautiful things. Handle them with love and respect.
- Now that you are comfortable with sushi, its time you try sashimi (thinly sliced pieces of raw fish)
- I am craving sushi, like crazy … :*
Note: This is the 1st part of a 3 Part series on Sushi.