- Posted February 11, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Who taught you to love food?
Sushi is an interesting Japanese food item in that it can be prepared using the most reasonably priced ingredients like eggs to the fanciest, most expensive eel, lobster, sea urchin and rare crab varieties. Not to be mistaken for sashimi which a similar delicacy of sliced raw fish and seafood served alone, sushi incorporates cooked short grain white rice flavored with vinegar, sake and other ingredients. Standard dip is Japanese soy sauce with a small optional amount of wasabi, a spicy green paste made from horseradish. Lemon or lime may be squeezed on top of the sushi or mixed in with the dip.
Literally translated as "sour-tasting" sushi traces its roots to ancient times when rice was allowed to ferment in soured rice breaking it down and developing its flavor. Only the fish was consumed with the rice being thrown away. It has come a long way since then and has taken the world by storm being served from the most modest fast food joints in shopping malls to the most fancy gourmet restaurant. Traditional Japanese offers many types of styles and even more varieties of ingredients including nigiri–small rice balls with fillings; temaki cone-shaped portions meant to eaten with the fingers; and chirashi which can be likened to a deconstructed dish with the fillings spread on top of the rice.
Though it seems easy enough to make your own at home, if you’re lucky to find nori (seaweed) sheets, it takes much more skill to make a perfectly crafted dish. The freshest ingredients, professional tools and experienced talent are showcased in the best Japanese restaurants in the world. Some restaurants in Paris, New York and other big cosmopolitan cities fly in their own Japanese chefs who make daily trips to the local market for the freshest catch for the day’s menu. These restaurants also fly their own ingredients from Japan on a regular basis. The air freight alone is enough to bring up the prices of a single meal to the hundreds of dollars, not to mention the cost of the ingredients themselves.
Like most things Japanese, eating their food is done with a certain level of refinement. Unlike sashimi, which is usually eaten with chopsticks, sushi may be picked up with the fingers dipped daintily into a small ceramic vessel of soy sauce. Japanese etiquette suggests tilting or flipping it over in such a way that the top comes into contact with the sauce and not the bottom part which will absorb too much soy causing it to fall apart. In most restaurants, the dish is served with a siding of sliced pickled ginger called gari which can be used to apply the dip directly on the sushi before it is eaten. Varieties that already come with a sauce applied inside or drizzled on top need not be dipped into soy.
Some restaurants have a dedicated sushi menu serving single ala carte orders of three or more pieces. Impressive platters with up to a hundred or more of pieces are sometimes available for big groups, take out or delivery. Serving sushi is of utmost importance to the country which has taken the art of elaborate presentation to great heights and beauty. Apart from the simple monotone wood or lacquer trays used, fancy bamboo boats are also widely used.