Thursday, June 8, 2006

Sushi for beginners


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 KeyesSushi 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:

Fish
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).

Seafood
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.

Vegetables
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.

Red meat
Beef, ham, and horse meat, often lightly cooked. In Hawaii, fried Spam is a popular local variation.

Other fillings
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!)

Condiments
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:

Labels:


20 comment(s):

Anonymous yee69 said...

A whole bunch of people were getting sushi so I decided to try it. I was scared because of the raw fish. I like most things well-done and burnt. However, once I dipped that tuna roll into the soy sauce mixed with wasabi, I was hooked by the mixture of soy, horseradish and fish. It didn't even taste raw or fishy. I am a huge sushi fan!

6/08/2006 05:12:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I love sushi! One of my fave things but only the vegetarian kind since, well, I'm a vegetarian. LOL. (^_~)

6/08/2006 05:40:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

Blogger's ok now? Can't believe they've been down almost half a day. Anyway, sushi. :D Never thought I would like sushi until I tried it. Though I've yet to eat anything raw, LOL, I'm finding more and more types that I love. :D

Some of my faves:

california roll
tuna salad roll
bbq chicken
tempura roll
I forget the name but it's a square of rice with a slice of sweet egg on top LOL

6/08/2006 08:25:00 PM  

Blogger Rachel said...

I personally do not like to eat any seafood (just something about the texture and flavor) but I love to eat veggie rolls when I go with the BF out for sushi. My favorite is tofu and spinach rolls.

BF just started eating sushi and maki rolls only a couple years ago and he has become very addicted. He started off with cooked things, like the eel and crab. I have even tasted the eel and it's not horrible, but I don't enjoy it. He eats just about everything now (well except urchin and just a few other aquired tastes)... he even eats sushi (he reminds me there is a difference with "sushi" and maki rolls).

I don't even eat the wasabi... a little too much kick for me. But I will definitely stick with the cucumber, carrot, spinach and tofu rolls. :)

6/08/2006 09:32:00 PM  

Anonymous gps said...

I hate wasabi, but I lurve sushi!
I'm fussy, though, so I only eat chicken sushi. Luckily there's a really great sushi place in town with the chicken sushi I crave, and those sushis that are just rice in a deep fried tofu bag thingie.

I like making my sushi at home, too, but all I can do is California rolls. I tried making the sushi that's a huge square of rice with meat on top and a tiny bit of nori wrapped around the outside, but it fell apart.

6/08/2006 09:37:00 PM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

Since my sushi obsession began, it has grown and grown. I'm totally addicted now! I eat sushi whenever I have the chance. I've also lost myself into the world of wasabi... LOL, adds a little kick if done just right!

I think the real clincher though is that BF, my picky-I don't-eat-anything-gross-like-you-do BF is now a sushi junkie too! It all started with his coworkers having a sushi lunch every friday and making him try stuff. Now he just can't get enough. He eat stuff *I* won't even touch! He even asks me to go out for sushi on weekend or evenings because he craves it LOL.

Now he has no more excuse for not trying out new foods. :P

6/08/2006 09:59:00 PM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

Harlot, how come you hate sushi? LOL. Trollop's right, you should try it. ;)

6/08/2006 10:01:00 PM  

Blogger Aggie said...

Ewwwww - I'm not eating it offa those boobies!
That's a bit like Tittie F***ing isn't it? Ick!

On the other hand if it were *Wanker* with a Strategic Fig leaf - YUMMY!

6/08/2006 10:24:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

BIG sushi fan here. I love pickled ginger & wasabi, on my veggie California roll. Also inari is great!

Beautiful blog you have, Harlot and Trollop. Love your names too. :)

6/08/2006 11:07:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

Aggie, that's funny. LOL

I LOVE SUSHI!!! My favourite is definitely unagi (eel). :D

6/08/2006 11:16:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

I eat rice.

Safood is my second favorite food group after chocolate.

But sushi, no thank you. Horror story attached. *shudder*

They look very pretty though. :/

6/08/2006 11:36:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Welcome to all the new visitors. :D Hope you post often!


C Bradshaw,
Between BF and i, i'm the picky one. And he's a sushi junkie, oh god. *groan* Funny, he always tells me i should try out unusual foods. Of course he ONLY tells me this when he wants to go for sushi. *rolleyes* So i just usually reply, "Sure, baby. But you pick: sushi, or something that involves Nutella and you?" Of course he always chooses the second one LOL.


Aggie,
I believe you need more than your boobs and mouth for tit-fucking. LOL ;)


Jolie,
Of course, to better entertain you, my dear. ;) Thanks, darling. *sniff*

6/09/2006 12:06:00 AM  

Blogger tanabata said...

Here's an interesting article about how American sushi is quite different from 'real' Japanese sushi.
http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards/2000/articles/newspaper_without.html

Dh is a purist and doesn't like the 'funny' California rolls and things since they're not 'real'. I don't mind trying them though, some of the combinations are fun. But I have to admit I've never heard of most of the ones you guys listed as faves, (chicken???) as most of them aren't available in Japan.

6/09/2006 02:32:00 AM  

Anonymous Helena said...

I'll eat anything if it comes along with *wanker* and a *fig* leaf - good idea Aggie.

6/09/2006 03:31:00 AM  

Anonymous jay said...

I remember the first time i ever tried sushi. It wasn't great as I thought but I believe that sushi is an acquired taste and trying a variety of different sushi was what won me over. I found what I liked and didn't like. Most people would just try sushi and just never give it a fair chance.

6/09/2006 05:57:00 AM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

Harlot, very tricky, aren't you? Who would say no to Nutella and ahem, some licking. LOL

Aggie, count me in on that "fig-leaf" session with wanker!

Speaking of sushi, will be having some later with the bf. :D

6/09/2006 08:53:00 AM  

Anonymous georgia said...

Ew.... eels? (sick to my stomach)

Anyways I don't really like sushi but I prefer kimbab cause they are better for sure!

6/09/2006 09:02:00 AM  

Anonymous sgt tibbs said...

Love sushi, can't afford to get the stuff that's edible where I live, so it's a vacation treat when I'm on a coast. I'm not overly fond of roe (we call them pop rocks, and they always get stuck between my teeth), and can't deal with the texture of unagi (and yes, it is a texture thing, I didn't like it before I found out what it was), but everything else is fair game. Well...except quail eggs...don't do so well with raw egg, either.

6/09/2006 10:52:00 AM  

Blogger Lorelei said...

I'm pretty adventurous with food and I love seafood, but I think on this one I'll stick to my curries, thanks. LOL

Btw, Trollop, I love Chinese food. :)

6/09/2006 11:35:00 AM  

Blogger Angel Jamie said...

i love sushi!!! although i can't find a good sushi place where i am right now!*sigh* i guess i've set my standards too high... or maybe i just haven't found a good place.. my personal fave is spider roll, it's a soft shell crab tempura.. but i guess everybody knows that *big grin* anyways Harlot u should at least try it!
great article tabanata!

6/09/2006 09:56:00 PM