Wasabi, fish, vinegary rice – are some of the basic elements of the Japanese dish, Sushi. These, combined with minimalism and perfection make sushi what it is today. There are different combinations, not just these three, but it is the glorification of sea-food and a demonstration of immaculate skills that defines the dish. If this was about food being beautiful, Sushi would probably win the prize, the presentation and colors that come out in a platter are just breath taking and beautiful.
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The Sushi Chef and his Philosophy
Sushi is different from any other food, fans of this luxury call themselves addicts, as they crave for it after the first taste. This is because the taste that sushi gives is complete – called umami in Japanese. There are numerous Japanese who have trained themselves to become masters of sushi, opening restaurants that offer this specialty. One of them is Jiro Ono, on whom a film was produced called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. He still owns the Michelin 3-star restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. Sushi is treated as a work of art, in which perfection is attained everyday. Those who create the dish treat it with utmost respect and invest the best of their skills into making it.
The knife and the chef’s hands are his instruments. It is a perfect, sharp blade that allows him to fillet his fish and his hands are used to wrap the sushi, and put it together for the aesthetic beauty of the dish. The rice also, should not stick together, in any kind of sushi, the grains should be apart and should be springy. Even the rice is cooked methodically for this Japanese delicacy.
Sushi is ideally a mouthful, so that when you are having it, you should be eating it with chopsticks, and take one mouthful of the delicacy at a time. Each mouthful has a thin slice of fish, with its rice, and wasabi or soy sauce or the chef’s choice of dressing. The fish also has to be perfectly, finely cut, and without a single bone.
Other forms of Sushi
Like any ideology, sushi has given root to different kinds. There are hundreds of different kinds of sushi, far too many to list. It all depends on the combinations and the seafood used. However, sea food is the core of any sushi dish. Let us look at a few:
- Sashimi – it does not have vinegary rice, but has thin slices of raw food. Even this has different kinds and names, such as maguro sashimi, depending on the fish and the combinations.
- Sushi rolls – there is a huge variety of these rolls, there are different condiments apart from rice, which include raw fish, cooked fish and meat. It is supposed to be a perfect, neat roll.
- Nigiri – there are different kinds of nigiri, and different kinds of seafood, such as octopus, or squid, are used in making nigiri.
- Sushi platter – You can also have a sushi platter, where you will be served sashimi, nigiri, sushi rolls and many other kinds, depending on the chef.
The Sushi Experience
A first try scares people that all they might taste is raw fish, but the combination of rice and other condiments does not let it show. The best way to experience sushi is to visit a Japanese restaurant which has developed its name for serving fresh sushi. Sushi is ideally eaten with chopsticks. One piece is a mouthful that fits within two chopsticks.
The chef wraps it so neatly that the fish does not fall off, nor do the rice grains. As you eat, the flavours bond together. The wasabi should not overpower, nor should the seafood, or the rice. The rice should also not clump together. Using the chopsticks, you can dip the sushi in the accompanying sauce served by the chef. The sauce can be soya sauce or one of the chef’s creations.
Nowadays, wasabi is also served separately for those who want more of it. The new era of fast-food means a few may even offer home delivery but this delicacy should be eaten fresh from the kitchen. In Japan, a rotating serving table is set up for such restaurants. At the head, a chef prepares it in front of the guests, and they can request their own choice of fish. Thus, they eat it fresh, and enjoy every bit of the experience.
Have you ever tried sushi? How was your first experience?