I’ve never been a picky eater, but neither have I been one to gulf down anything and everything edible. For example, I think I’d rather eat dirt than a mayonnaise, glazed onions and banana sandwich (yes, I’ve heard of people who eat this, UGHHH!).
When I first started dating the BF, we both agreed that we would like to broaden our food choices and start eating things we’d never tried before (anything except Chinese food; there is no way I could stomach it—long story!). I was reading Marian Keyes’ Sushi for Beginners at the time, and was very curious as to why raw fish and rice were such a popular chow trend. BF and I talked about it, then talked about it some more LOL, and finally decided to give it a go. In the beginning, we had no idea what to order, and ended up getting a bunch of those completely raw icky ones (like eel *shudder*). But we trudged on, and little by little, started finding things in the menu that sounded interesting, and liking them. Now we are both sushi lovers—me more than him. He’d rather eat red meat than anything else, including me, I think LOL.
I’ve found something I like so much I feel the need to share—especially with those who don’t know where to start, and those, like Harlot, that say “HATE HATE HATE sushi!” but have never even tried it!!! I’ve put together a little “Sushinary” to get you guys started, and will list the rolls that I like best. I really hope you give it a try!
In Japan the word “sushi” refers to a broad range of foods prepared with sumeshi (酢飯) or sushi meshi (寿司飯), vinegared rice. Sushi toppings or fillings can include seafood, meat, vegetables, mushrooms or egg. Sushi toppings may be raw, cooked, or marinated. In the Western world, sushi is often misunderstood to mean clumps of rice topped with raw fish, or even simply raw seafood, which is properly called sashimi.
Toppings and fillings:
For culinary, sanitary and aesthetic reasons, fish eaten raw must be fresher and of higher quality than fish which is cooked. A professional sushi chef is trained to recognize good fish, which smells clean, has a vivid color, and is free from harmful parasites. Only ocean fish are used raw in sushi; freshwater fish, which are more likely to harbor parasites, are cooked.
Commonly-used fish are tuna, yellowtail, snapper, conger, mackerel and salmon. The most valued sushi ingredient is toro, the fatty cut of tuna. This comes in varieties ōtoro (often from the bluefin species of tuna) and chutoro, meaning middle toro, implying it is halfway in fattiness between toro and regular red tuna (akami).
Other seafoods are eel, squid, octopus, shrimp, fish roe, sea urchin (uni), and various kinds of shellfish. Oysters, however, are not put in sushi; the taste is not thought to go well with the rice.
Pickled daikon radish (takuan) in shinko maki, various pickled vegetables (tsukemono), fermented soybeans (natto) in nattō maki, avocado in California rolls, cucumber in kappa maki, asparagus, yam, tofu, pickled ume (umeboshi), gourd (kampyō), burdock (gobo), and sweet corn mixed with mayonnaise.
Beef, ham, and horse meat, often lightly cooked. In Hawaii, fried Spam is a popular local variation.
Eggs (in the form of a slightly sweet, layered omelet called tamagoyaki), raw quail eggs riding as a gunkan-maki topping.
(I mainly like calamari, shrimp, crab, salmon, avocado, sesame seeds, panko and/or cream cheese in my sushi, but once in a while something will catch my eye in the menu and I’ll experiment. There are a hundred different things to try!)
Shōyu. しょうゆ, or 醤油, 正油. Soy sauce.
Wasabi. The grated root of the wasabi plant. The best tool to use for grating wasabi is normally considered to be a sharkskin grater or oroshi. At cheap establishments like kaiten sushi restaurants, bento box grade sushi, and at most restaurants outside of Japan, imitation wasabi made of horseradish with green coloring and wasabi-oil flavoring is used instead. Real wasabi is believed to kill germs on raw fish.
Gari. Sweet, pickled ginger.
(I love wasabi, and use huge amounts of it in my sushi, but never use the rest.)
Here are some links that will help you get started on your sushi journey:
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