Hello, everyone! It’s time for another ‘Tidbits about Japan!’
Today’s topic is ‘Sushi.’
I know Sushi has become pretty popular and some of you may have already tried, but I wonder if it’s the same one that we normally have here in Japan.
Today, I’d love to show you a snippet of (again, snippet) what authentic Japanese sushi looks like and show you when and where we eat sushi.
Before we dive into this, thank you, Nel@Reactionary Tales for the inspiration as always! Hope you’ll enjoy this!
Disclaimer: The ideas and things that I share with you here are totally based on my personal knowledge and the information that I found through my online research. please bear in mind that things could be totally different depending on the region.
I have only tried Sushi in Guam, but the sushi that I had over there looked like this;
But our sushi actually looks like this:
In fact, there are several types of sushi in Japan.
This one is what we call ‘nigiri-zushi’ which means sushi formed (squeezed) by hand.
As you can see, we have raw or lightly braised fish, eels, conger (sea eel), egg omelet (seasoned with sugar and dashi) or marinated vegetables on top of sushi rice.
This is what you can get at sushi restaurants or supermarkets and the most typical kind as far as I’m concerned.
Next, let’s talk about Sushi rolls.
The apparent difference (as you can see above) from your sushi rolls is that we have seaweed on the outside NOT on the inside. This type sushi roll is called ‘maki-zushi.’
The ingredients for this sushi-roll actually run the gamut, but some of the main sushi-rolls are:
- Cucumber rolls (kappa maki) : ‘Kappa’ is a Japanese traditional monster (youkai) and he’s fond of cucumbers hence the name. Click here to see what they look like.
- Tuna roll (Tekka maki) : ‘Tekka’ means ‘as red as heated iron’ and is derived from tuna being red. For images, click here.
- Tuna & green onion roll (negi-toro maki) : for this roll, we use fatter parts of tuna (toro) which has got a very rich and dense texture that melts in your mouth. We mash the tuna into a pastry form and then sprinkle with some green onions(negi). For images, click here.
- Natto roll: Yes, we have natto roll. For those of you who don’t know what Natto is, it’s basically fermented soybeans. It’s got a very distinct sticky, clingy texture. For pics, click here.
The last one is Chirashi-zushi, which is basically sushi-rice topped (or mixed) with various types of veggies and raw fish and it looks like this.
The typical ingredients are;
- Lotus root
- Bamboo shoot
- Snow peas
- Egg Omelet
- Shiitake mushrooms
- salted salmon roe
I don’t know what sushi rice is like in your country, but Japanese authentic one is rather vinegary. Ingredients for sushi vinegar are rice vinegar, sugar, salt. Quite simple, see?
And, Oh, another difference between our sushi and yours is we use Wasabi (grated Japanese horseradish). I don’t know if you have ever tried wasabi, but it’s pretty spicy. When it hits you, it gives you a strong tingling sensation running up to your nostrils and stings your tongue at the same time.
When buying packaged sushi, wasabi is 9 out of 10 cases, in a separate package so that you can adjust the spiciness to your taste. If you don’t like it, you can leave it. If you’re at a sushi restaurant, you can ask a sushi chef to hold the wasabi.
When do we eat Sushi?
Traditionally here in Japan, sushi was eaten specifically on celebratory and auspicious occasions such as birthdays, weddings (including engagement), National holidays (Girl’s day/Kid’s day), graduation, commencement, etc. Etc.
Nowadays, however, we can eat sushi almost any time any day, there’s no rule whatsoever due to the prevalence of casual sushi restaurants or franchises. That said, the tradition is still deeply entrenched and we often take out or order sushi on special occasions that I told you earlier.
Where can you get sushi?
As I mentioned, now we can get sushi almost anywhere you can think of. You can find packaged sushi ‘at supermarkets and we do have sushi franchises where you can order sushi for takeout, not to mention casual sushi restaurants like conveyor belt sushi restaurants. (for pics, click here.)
But the most authentic one would be traditional sushi restaurants where you sit at the counter and place an order directly to the sushi chef.
Such authentic sushi restaurants can be pretty expensive; they do have menus but more often than not, they don’t have prices on them so you cannot tell how much it would cost. If you come to Japan and are up for trying out such sushi restaurants, get a restaurant guidebook and do some homework beforehand. They will give you a rough idea as to how much sushi restaurants cost on average.
As always, this is only the general idea that I have for sushi so I’ll put the link to Wikipedia English page that explains what Japanese sushi is like more in detail. Please check that out for more information.
Also, this ‘Begin Japanology’ video will be interesting to see if you want to delve a bit deeper into the history of Sushi and how it has evolved over time.
That’s it for today. I hope you got to know a little bit more about Japanese Sushi.
Thanks Nel for the inspiration, I hope you enjoyed that!
Thank you for reading as always and I’ll see you in my next post 🙂