Eating a well prepared sushi dish made by a master chef offers a unique experience that is quite difficult to recreate. Sushi is a wonderful, cultural and somewhat artistic type of food that requires several years of training and experience to prepare with outstanding taste and flavour. Here are some interesting and little known facts about this addictive delicacy called sushi.
1 Sushi is spelled “zushi” in Japanese when a type precedes it
When the kind of sushi comes before the word “sushi”, it automatically changes to zushi in the Japanese language. For example, the sushi roll is called maki-zushi, and nigiri-zushi is the type of sushi that has rice with a slice of fish or seafood pressed on top of it.
2 Maki-zushi Rolls are Creative Works of Art
Sushi master chefs choose the ingredients used to maki-zushi carefully so that the texture, taste, flavour and colour complement one another. Sushi rolls are made in one long roll first and then sliced into bite-sized discs so you can see the artistic work of the chefs.
3 Japanese named Maki-zushi After the Mat
In Japan, chefs call the mat that gives sushi rolls their cylindrical shape makisu. Maki-zushi offers the benefit of creating space to add other ingredients such as cucumber, carrot and daikon to give it a crunchy twist. Sushi rolls are very popular in the West but the Japanese prefer nigiri because it allows them to dip the edge of the fish into soy sauce.
4 Your Wasabi is Probably Not the Real Thing
Original wasabi is processed from the root of wasabia japonica, a native plant of Japan. It is not made from the powder or the horseradish that is often used as a substitute. Real wasabi has a powerful pungent effect. The burning sensation you feel in your nostrils is due to the antimicrobial properties of the plant, that kill potential parasites and microbes in raw fish and seafood. Due to the high cost of original wasabi, many mid-range sushi bars substitute it with a substance made from a combination of mustard powder, horseradish and a green coloured dye.
5 Nori Was Initially Scrapped From Odd Places
Nori – the toasted seaweed wrap for sushi rolls – was originally scraped off the underside of boats and legs of wooden piers. Mobile food vendors pressed it into sheets and then dried it in the sun. However, nori is now cultivated off shore and farmed over 230 square miles on the sea to produce 350,000 tons annually. Nori produced in the West is toasted to improve food safety while the Japanese variety is not because it will affect the distinct fishy taste.
6 Seaweed is Not the Only Ingredient for Rolling Sushi
In the West, we are used to eating sushi wrapped in nori (seaweed) but in Japan, chefs are more creative. They use various ingredients for their maki-zushi including eggs, cucumber and soy paper.
7 Fresh Fish is Not as Fresh as You Think
Regulations concerning food safety in Europe and the U.S. specify that raw fish must be frozen for some time to kill parasites and other harmful microbes. The EU specifies that all raw fish must be frozen for at least 1 day at a temperature of -20 degrees centigrade. Unfortunately, freezing fish can damage the taste and texture.
8 Nigiri Should Be Consumed Upside Down
Many sushi lovers recommend that nigiri, a slice of fish placed on an oblong mound of rice should be eaten by placing the fish side on the tongue first. Since nigiri is usually eaten with the hands rather than chopsticks, it is easy to keep the fish and rice together and rotate them.
9 Skip the Sake and Try Champagne
Sake is made from fermented rice so it should not be eaten with sushi rice; its best taken with sashimi. When you are eating sushi, pair it with champagne or with white wine like Riesling, or Pino Grigio.
10 Sushi Chefs Have More Fun in the West
In Japan, sushi chefs must prepare their sushi in a traditional way. But when they travel abroad to countries like the U.S., Australia, and the U.K., their personalities come alive. They meet people who want to develop a relationship with them and make requests for menu options that will enable them to maximise their creativity.