- What is sushi?
- What is the difference between sushi and sashimi?
- Types of sushi
- Is all sushi made with raw fish?
- How to make sushi
- How to eat sushi
- Why do we eat wasabi with sushi?
- What is the name of sushi rice?
- Health benefits of sushi
- What kind of sushi can you eat while pregnant?
- Why is sushi so popular around the world?
- Sushi restaurants
- Trivia about sushi
What is sushi?
Sushi is a popular Japanese dish composed of two main ingredients. The first one is a mix of vinegared rice with some sugar and salt. This mix is called sushi-meshi which means “sushi food” because it contains most of sushi carbohydrates. Its key ingredient is the sushi rice usually called shari. The second component of sushi is the ingredients we used as topping for the rice, also called neta. Even the most popular is raw fish, you can see sushi with many other topping, from omelet to avocado.
What is the difference between sushi and sashimi?
It a very common mistake to mix this two concepts. Both sushi and sashimi are Japanese dishes, however they are not at all the same. Sashimi is a way of preparing fish and meat that involves served then raw. Per example, if you ask chicken sashimi in a Japanese restaurant they will bring you raw chicken chopped in small dices with some sauce. It also apply to fish like salmon and tuna. On the other side, sushi is a combination between rice and a topping ingredient, which might be a piece of sashimi. In conclusion, sashimi is raw fish or meat and sushi is vinegared rice topped with any ingredient.
The reason of the sushi vs sashimi confusion comes from popularity acquired by sushi for containing raw fish. Probably, people exporting sushi were advertising raw fish as a new and exciting way of eating. Years later, when sashimi started gaining popularity, people were confused because they realize that it was “also” meaning raw fish!
Types of sushi
Nigiri sushi or Nigirizushi
Nigiri sushi is maybe the most popular way of preparing sushi. It is famous for each simplicity. Basically, after preparing the ball of rice that makes the base of your sushi, a secondary ingredient is placed in the top.
Maki sushi or Makizushi
It is translated as sushi roll and it implies that the sushi is wrapped using seaweed. This type of sushi have includes the extra ingredients in the core. They are surrounded by rice and finally wrapped in seaweed. This type has three possible sub classifications:
- Norimaki: This will be the traditional sushi roll. It is wrapped with a thin seaweed called Nori.
- Futomaki: Translated as fat maki. It is basically a huge Norimaki that usually includes more than one ingredient inside
- Temaki: Translated as “wrapped by hand”. It’s a typical way of eating sushi when it is cooked at home. Nori is rolled in a cone shape and its filled with rice and other ingredients
Oshi sushi or Oshizushi
This is basically the same as Maki sushi, a base of rice topped with different ingredients. However its main difference if the shape, oshi sushi is shaped as a square.
Inari sushi or inarizushi
This is maybe the only type of sushi that has not variety in the ingredients. It consists of a core of rice wrapped in a skin of sweet fried tofu called aburaage. Although Inari sushi is quite popular in Japan, usually foreigners find weird the combination of rice and sweet tofu.
Chirashi sushi or Chirashizushi
Chirashi sushi is probably the less known type outside Japan. This is because, even though it is basically the same, it does not look like the other types of sushi. A ration of shirazushi is presented as a bowl of rice topped with different ingredients.
Is all sushi made with raw fish?
Well if you reach this point you should already know, don’t you? The answer is: no necessarily. The main and always required ingredient of sushi is vinegared rice. Among the possible ingredients used as topping raw fish is just one of them. It is true that using raw fish on the top is quite popular. According to many is also the most delicious way of eating sushi. However on any Japanese sushi restaurant you will find a wide variety of sushi not including raw fish.
How to make sushi
Many people want to learn how to make sushi. It might look complicated at first but it is actually quite simple once you learn some tricks. One thing about Japanese people is that they are very serious about following the recipe step by step. Therefore if you follow the instructions and you have the sushi maker kit, you will be making sushi in no time!
There are many different types of sushi, so for the moment let’s focus on the popular sushi roll also known as makizushi. It includes nori seaweed which taste sends you directly to the land of the rising sun. In the following video you can see the step-by-step sushi recipe to prepare delicious makizushi.
How to eat sushi
Japanese people have a quite traditional spirit, therefore they still keep some rituals when it comes to eat traditional dishes. However this does not mean that all Japanese people follow these rituals always. Certainly, eating sushi is no an exception.
In this section I am going to give you some general tips about sushi eating. However you have to find you own way. First of all, when it comes to sushi we need to have in mind 3 other side ingredients: wasabi, soy sauce and picked ginger.
It is a very typical Japanese spice. It is quite hot however not the kind hot you are expecting. In other words, it has nothing to do with chili. I will describe the feeling as when you take a deep breath after finishing a mint candy. When you taste wasabi, at the beginning, it climbs from your tongue to your nose and then it reaches the eyes. Therefore, if you eat too much, a couple of tears will come out and after several seconds you will be okay. Try very little amounting the first time and increasing it according to your needs.
Its salty sauce that comes in many varieties. On sushi restaurants in Japan you can easily have 4 or 5 different soy sauces to try. Moreover, in many places they also offer sweet soy sauce for those that don’t like salt so much.
It has strong ginger taste so is never mixed with sushi because you will miss the original taste. However when you are eating sushi with different topping ingredients, eating a small piece of ginger refresh your mouth. As a result, you can better appreciate the following sushi.
Typical eating protocol
- Step-1: Prepare in a side dish a bit of the soy sauce you like the best.
- Step-2: Using the chopsticks grab the amount of wasabi you like and put it in the top of your sushi.
- Step-3: Grab the sushi with your chopsticks and dip it superficially into the soy sauce.
- Step-4: After dipping the sushi, without releasing it, eat it!
Our personal recommendation
Here is a trick which I learn from some Japanese friends. In the dish you use for the soy sauce you can actually mix several types of soy sauce. I usually like to put normal soy sauce mixed with sweet soy sauce. After that I include some wasabi and mix it good. Finally you only need to dip and eat! Using this strategy you will enjoy more the wasabi taste because it will be more distributed.
Why do we eat wasabi with sushi?
Well there are three main reasons. The first one has some historical background. In the past there were fewer controls on raw fish and meat. Wasabi is quite effective suppressing the bacteria and microbes that produce food poisoning. Therefore, when there was a doubt about the quality of the ingredients, wasabi was used as a way to feel safer.
The second reason is slightly connected to the first one. In this case, wasabi works very well covering the smell of fish which many people dislike to feel while eating
And the third and most important, wasabi has the property of drawing out more of ingredients flavor. Therefore no matter which kind of sushi you are eating, mixing it with wasabi is always a good idea.
What is the name of sushi rice?
This is another common question than requires some explanations. Sushi rice or, in Japanese, sushi-meshi of shari, is the name of the boiled rice mixed with rice vinegar. Therefore it does not involve any specific type of rice seed. However, when it comes to choose a good rice to make sushi, it is important to choose a rice rich in starch. This way it will be easier to the sticky texture required to keep the grains together. Good standard brands that are widely available in the U.S. are Kokuho Rose and Nishiki.
Health benefits of sushi
Sushi is an extremely balanced food. Mainly, it provides you energies from the carbohydrates of the rice without any kind of processed or saturated fat. Energies coming from carbohydrates are the one that body prefers for daily activities; therefore they will not be storage as fat if you have an active life. Secondly, the fresh vegetable, fish and meat coming with sushi provide many beneficial nutrients and vitamins required on daily basis. In the following sections we will enumerate several of the benefits of sushi nutrients.
Both fish and soy sauce are rich in iron which boosts the production of red blood cells. Therefore sushi is a good iron source that improve blood circulation which can affect positively you metabolism, hair growth and skin condition.
When it comes to kill bacteria and microbe, wasabi and ginger are very effective ingredients. For this reason, consuming then ginger and wasabi with sushi help your immune system to keep those microbes controlled.
Another good property about ginger and wasabi is that they are rich in antioxidants. This antioxidants are very good removing free radicals in out cells which is one of the main reason of the appearance of carcinogenic cells.
Sushi is a low fat food. Most of the energy it provides to the body comes from carbohydrates which the body loves to use daily. This stops the accumulation of fat and allows your body to perform cleaner metabolic processes.
Sushi rolls are wrapped in sheets of Japanese seaweed or nori. This ingredient is rich in several minerals. One of them is iodine which plays an important role for the correct function of the thyroid glands. Therefore, the moderate consumption of nori helps balancing hormones and other metabolic processes.
End but not least, sushi is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. This beneficial source of cholesterol helps cleaning your arteries preventing from clogging. As a results the blood pressure improves and the risk of cardiovascular diseases is reduced.
What kind of sushi can you eat while pregnant?
This is another question that requires just a bit of background. First, let’s clarify where this concern comes from. Women immune system gets weakened during pregnancy therefore they should avoid food that might contain any bacteria or microbe potentially dangerous for the baby.
Although there are several bacteria that can be dangerous for them associated with raw fish and meat, this is only true if the fish or meat didn’t pass the minimum health controls. However nowadays, at least in Japan, no matter where get them, raw fish and meat are completely safe. The cases of Japanese people getting sick because of food poisoning related to raw ingredients are almost none.
Nevertheless, there is a bacteria call listeria which is potentially dangerous for the baby during pregnancy and sometimes exist in raw fish in bad conditions. This should not be a big problem nowadays but, given the weakened immune systems, even in Japan, they recommend pregnant women not to consume raw fish or meat.
So, does that mean that you cannot eat sushi at all? Of course not! If you have been following this entry, you should know already that sushi does not mean raw fish. On the contrary, there are many sushi varieties that contain no fish at all and are still delicious. Just ask for sushi without fish. If you are in a restaurant in Japan you can use the sentence “sakana taberarenai” which means “I cannot eat fish”. That should be enough to enjoy your sushi even during pregnancy
Why is sushi so popular around the world?
After reading this article you might guess why sushi is so popular, but let’s summarize the main points that make this food so special.
Taste and Variety
Sushi is very tasty, mixing it with soy sauce and wasabi makes it even better. But if it was always the same taste, will be boring at some point isn’t it? However here is where variety takes control. There are so many different types of sushi that is impossible to get tired of them. Depending on your mood you can choose each day the one that appeals more.
It’s quite cool and exotic
Of course this is an important fact. People are attracted to uncommon and fancy things. Certainly that’s one of sushi secret weapon to be so popular. Eating sushi outside Japan might be a bit expensive, but that’s also plays an important role on its popularity because is considered a symbol of status.
Healthy and convenient
Sushi not only has the taste and variety, but is also low in fat. All ingredients are natural and highly contribute to a balance diet. This way of eating is what makes Japanese diet so healthy and put them as the country with highest life expectancy. Moreover, as they are small portions with lots of energy, eating sushi is quite convenient even during busy live. In conclusion, it give you energy easily, it taste good and it’s actually healthy!
Well, we know that if you don’t live in Japan, probably eating sushi is not the cheapest thing. However, if you come to the land of the rising sun, you can find many sushi train restaurants (called “kaiten sushi”, meaning rotating sushi). Each sushi dish contains 2 pieces of sushi and costs around 80 cents! With around 8 dollars you can eat enough sushi for the whole day! So if you really like sushi, we strongly recommend you to come Japan at least once in your life.
Given the popularity of sushi, we can find sushi bars all around the globe. However, in this section we will mention the types of sushi restaurants that we can commonly find in Japan.
Traditional sushi restaurant
These places are quite fancy and therefore more expensive. They focus a lot on providing a good service to the customer. They serve only high quality fish and the portions are small. They main purpose of eating in these restaurants is to appreciate all the nuances of sushi taste.
Kaiten sushi or sushi train
These are without a doubt the favorites of the current folk. These restaurants are almost fully automatized. Firstly, when you get in, you choose in a machine the number of people and the sitting preferences. Soon they will assign you a table.
After that, you will see that each table provides access to a tablet from which you can make your orders. When your order is ready, the system will inform you in different ways. In some places, your order arrives through train of dishes, but in other there is an actual train that travels through a secondary track that moves to your table with your orders! Isn’t that amazing?
The average price for 2 pieces of sushi is 108 yens (around 80 cents). Moreover each table is provided with free green tea, water, soy sauce, wasabi and ginger. If you come to Japan you should certainly try a kaiten sushi restaurant.
Trivia about sushi
Sushi is so damn popular that we can find all kind of crazy stuff around related to sushi. Here some examples:
The basic way of making sushi implies the placement of a layer of ingredients over a base of rice. Wait! Does this don’t remind you to cake making? Exactly! Using rice as biscuits and different ingredients as cream, we can make a sushi cake. They are of course salty and they became quite popular in Japan.
Also known as nyotaimori is maybe the most expensive way of eating sushi. Basically it consist in eating sushi from a naked person, usually a woman. It is possible to find some restaurants offering this service round Japan, mostly in Tokyo. As is it expected from this culture, the rules are quite strict for costumers to avoid any inappropriate behavior towards the man or woman lying in the table. Do you think it is crazy? Well then you still have many thing to learn about this culture!
It is fast-playing card game in which players compete to grab the best combination of sushi dishes in the shortest period of time. This game was created by Phil Walker-Harding and released by and Italian-German editorial. In the last years it gain a lot of popularity in the geek community. You should try to play with your friends.
From card to video game! Sushi time is a videogame released for Nintendo switch on March 2019. In this game you are challenged to create the best sushi bar in the town. Through more than 60 levels you will try to serve your orders without mixing the ingredients. You can enjoy this sushi game both with friends and kids.