Sushi: The Japanese Delicacy
Sushi is a Japanese dish, popular all throughout the world. Sushi lovers, young and old alike, mistakenly think Sushi refers to raw sea fish. Sushi actually means vinegar-flavored rice and the raw food accompanying it are called Sashimi.
Types of Sushi Preparations
There are five kinds of Sushi preparations like Nigiri, Maki, Temaki, Chirashi and Inari Sushis. Sushi rice is the staple ingredient in all of them. The types are determined by the kind of fillings or toppings used. The same ingredients can be served, assembled in both traditional and modern ways.
Nigiri Sushi is the most popular form of Sushi. It is served with an oblong mound of rice topped by wasabi and a thin slice of egg, seafood or any meat. While the egg is always served cooked, the seafood and the meat may be raw.
Maki Sushi is served rolled in nori, which is a kind of pressed seaweed. The rice, seaweed and the toppings are rolled into a cylindrical shape using a bamboo mat. The roll is then sliced into various thick and thin pieces. The California and Boston rolls are examples of this Sushi.
Temaki Sushi is similar to Maki except that it is hand rolled into a cone and is not chopped into small pieces.
Chirashi Sushi A rare Sushi, it consists of a bowl of rice with toppings of Sashimi or raw seafood or fish.
Inari Sushi Rare than even Chirashi are served as fried pouches of tofu stuffed with rice.
Ingredients for cooking up the best Sushi preparations
Rice: All Sushi preparations use short – grained Japonica rice mixed with a dressing of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, kombu and sake. The right stickiness is its essential quality.
Nori: These are wrappers made from sea weed, a type found in Japan. It is toasted before use. Nori by itself is edible. There are many kinds of ‘nori’ but the best quality is used in Sushi.
Toppings used in Sushi
Fish: For culinary, sanitary and aesthetic reasons the fish eaten raw must be fresher and of higher quality than fish which is cooked. In fact, professionals are employed to select the fish. Fish served raw are sea fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon. Fresh water fishes are cooked and never eaten raw since they are likely to contain parasites. The most valued Sushi ingredient is “toro”, the fatty cut of tuna. Toro comes in many qualities.
Sea food: Squid, octopus, shrimp and various shell fishes are used for sea food.
Vegetables: Pickled Daikon radish, pickled vegetables, fermented soya beans, asparagus, yam, tofu and gourd are some of the topping vegetables.
Red meat: Beef, ham, sausage and horse meat, often lightly cooked, are used for toppings.
Eggs: Slightly sweet layered omelettes and raw quail eggs are used as toppings.
Condiments used for preparing Sushi
The three main condiments are:
– shoyu which is soy sauce
– “wasabi” which is the grated root of the “wasabi” plant. Real “wasabi”, called “hon-wasabi” has anti-bacterial property which prevents food poisoning.
– “gari” which is sweet pickled ginger, cleanses the palette and aids in digestion.
Presentation is most important
Traditionally Sushi is served in an austere style in single or double tone colored plates. In smaller Japanese restaurants, plates are dispensed with, and the dish is had straight from the wooden counter. However in many places, particularly in U.S., a European sensibility has been imparted in to Sushi serving, resembling French cuisine.