Quick! What is sushi? If you said “raw fish,” you’re actually wrong. Although many people associate this iconic Japanese cuisine with glistening slices of raw tuna, salmon, yellowtail or other fish, the term “sushi” actually refers to the vinegar-seasoned rice that serves as a bed for that fish — or for other ingredients, like cooked shrimp or egg.
When you sit down at a sushi bar and unwrap your chopsticks, you may notice a wide array of dishes, ranging from the aforementioned rice-and-fish combo, to dazzling rolls wrapped in nori, to bowls of chirashi sushi, or scattered sushi. There are even vegetarian options. The best sushi restaurants will offer not only fresh seafood, but also miso soup, salads, and perhaps even cooked dishes like tempura or gyoza. This means that you can go out with your friends to enjoy Japanese restaurant cuisine, no matter what everyone’s individual taste preferences may be.
Another misconception about sushi? It’s actually not meant to be eaten with chopsticks, but is intended as a finger food. Moreover, each piece of nigiri — that’s the name for the hand-formed rice topped with fish that we mentioned earlier — is meant to be eaten in a single bite. The top sushi restaurants’ chefs have carefully constructed this morsel, with exactly the right amount of wasabi, or spicy Japanese horseradish, tucked underneath the slice of fish.
To enjoy this kind of sushi, grasp the piece between your thumb and first finger, turn it over, and gently dip the fish — not the rice — into your small dish of soy sauce. This will provide just enough soy for flavoring; dunking the rice into the soy sauce saturates it, and will make the sushi taste overly salty, which is not at all what the chef intended.
If you love a good seafood platter and you are feeling adventurous, belly up to the sushi bar and ask for “omakase,” which means “chef’s choice.” Although it may seem frightening to give up control this way, it’s usually a guarantee of good food and entertainment. You get to watch the chef perform the art of creating your meal right in front of you, and he or she, in turn, can gauge your reaction to the individual sushi dishes as you eat them, and tailor the rest of your meal accordingly. Chefs respect diners who opt for the omakase option, so they will often favor those diners will especially tasty tidbits or the very freshest seafood they have. The result is a Japanese-style seafood platter that is as tasty to eat as it is beautiful to behold.
While we’re on the subject of aesthetics — it can certainly be tempting, in this day of Instagram, to photograph your food and share pictures of it with all your friends via social media. However, chefs would encourage you to resist the temptation to do this, simply because it delays the pleasure you’ll derive from the seafood platter. The fish is meant to be eaten immediately, as soon as it’s placed in front of you, when it’s at the optimal temperature. So put down that iPhone and pick up your nigiri. Cheers! Find more on this here: www.carminesog.com