It’s a Japanese preparation made with sticky vinegar-ed rice, Nori & raw seafood (traditionally)
Sushi is the most popular dish in and outside of Japan. In Japan, they enjoy Sushi on special occasions; however, it has become a regular dining option with urban culinary enthusiasts worldwide. How many of us know what these ‘Sushis’ are except that it is stuffed with vinegar-ed rice and usually come with seafood accompanied by soy and Wasabi?
Its time to get to know what we order and what to expect when you next walk into your nearest Sushi Bar-
Sushi means Sour rice. It’s a Japanese preparation made with sticky vinegar-ed rice, Nori & raw seafood (traditionally). Hanaya Yohie created this unique preparation at the end of the Edo period. The dish became famous as one can eat it with one hand.
Sushi comprises high-quality short-grain starchy Japanese rice, characterised by its glutinous and stickiness. They use Mirin (Japanese rice vinegar with low alcohol content), sake (Japanese fermented rice wine), sugar & salt to season the rice. The rice is steamed in a cooker and cooled before it can be rolled.
Nori is a type of algae scrapped from dock pilings, rolled out into thin edible sheets and dried in the sun. It is used for wrapping sushis; sometimes, a thin omelette or a soy sheet can be used instead.
Neta or topping usually consists of raw slices of seafood which is fresher than the ones meant to be served cooked. The seafood is preserved at -60C soon after they are caught to avert danger from any parasitic infection.
Types of Sushi
Bowl of Sushi rice topped with a variety of ‘Sashimis’ (thin slices of raw seafood) and garnishes. The ‘Sashimi’ can vary as per the chef's choice or as specified by the customer
Cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed with the body of the seasoned rice, garnished and served.
A pouch of fried tofu stuffed with rice is called an ‘Inari Sushi'; it’s not a popular item on the menu.
4. Nigiri - (Hand pressed Sushis)
A mound of Sushi rice is pressed between the palms into a rectangular box, with some wasabi and neta (topping) over it. Neta could be any seafood, and it is usually tied with a thin sheet of Nori.
Topping could be fine quality beef or vegetable tied with a thin strip of nori.
5. Gunka maki
An oval-shaped hand-formed clump of Sushi rice with a strip of Nori wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel filled with soft, chopped, loose ingredients that require Nori's confinement.
Pressed form of Sushi, given the shape with the help of a wooden box pre-lined with Neta; the block is removed from the wooden board and cut into bite-size pieces.
7. MakiZushi- (Rolled Sushi)
It is a cylindrical piece or roll of Sushi formed with the help of a bamboo mat. It is generally wrapped with Nori, omelette, and soya paper.
Types of MakiZushi
a) Futomaki- (Large fat rolls)
It is a large cylindrical piece with Nori on the outside. It is 5-6 cm in diameter and is to be consumed uncut. It comes with more than two fillings.
b) Hoso Maki - (Thin rolls)
It comes in a small cylindrical piece, 2-3 cm in diameter, with Nori on the outside. It is usually stuffed with a single filling. It is generally consumed in-between courses to cleanse the palate. Generally served Vegetarian.
It is cone-shaped Sushi with Nori outside and the filling spilling out from the centre. It is generally preferred to be consumed early; otherwise, it becomes soggy as Nori absorbs the moistness from rice and doesn't give the bite texture. It is supposed to be eaten with your hands.
It is a medium-sized cylindrical piece with 2-4 fillings. In this case, rice is outside the Nori sheet. The filing is spread around the Nori, which is covered with rice and then shaped into cylindrical bars with the help of a bamboo mat, sprinkled with sesame or fish roe, cut into small bite-able sizes and eaten with the use of chopsticks.
Different varieties of Uramaki, popularly known as western rolls, differ as per the type of filling.
Some of the famous western rolls are
1. Californian Rolls - consists of crab stick, cucumber and avocado.
2. Alaska Roll - Raw salmon inside or pasted outside.
3. Hawaiian Roll - consists of tuna, shrimp powder, Japanese omelette
4. Philadelphia Roll - Raw or smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, avocado, onion
They are generally accompanied by soy sauce, Wasabi (Japanese horseradish), pickled ginger and green tea.
‘Sushis’ are high in carbohydrates, proteins (fish), and vitamins with the help of vegetables and are low in fat.
‘Sushis’ are authentically served on wooden boards to preserve aesthetic qualities or in a Bento box with all the accompaniments.
Sushi can be served on colour-coded plates and conveyor belts. As the belt passes, the consumer can pick up a plate of Sushi of his preference.
This is the final and paramount importance of how we indulge ourselves while eating ‘Sushis’.
‘Sushis’ are to be handled with extreme care and should be dealt with chopsticks. Except for Temaki (cone-shaped sushi). Soya should be applied with sliced ginger over the topping of the sushi, as it is not meant to absorb soya flavours. Nigris come with Wasabi; thus, it is recommended not to add any extra.
One doesn't need to be Japanese to know about Sushi; any enthusiastic food lover can easily understand a simple preparation that gained popularity across the globe. Knowledge helps us know better about a particular dish or cuisine, and it helps us enjoy better food.
"Sidharth Bhan Gupta is a Hospitality/F&B Consultant travelling across India exploring regional cuisines".