Love Sushi? These 7 Golden Rules Can Help Your Experience

If you think you know your sushi, you may not be wrong. But there’s a difference between knowing about the culinary aspect and the practical skill of consuming sushi. This classic Japanese dish balances some distinct flavour notes and is primarily made with raw seafood and veggies. So, mindfulness really is key when it comes to eating your sushi. Eating sushi is different to binging on anything else because with every sushi helping, you should be experiencing all the notes it has to offer.

A sushi recipe is typically designed to be perfectly balanced, but unless you’re eating it right you may not taste every note. For instance, did you know that you should not dip nigiri in soy sauce if it is already brushed with soy sauce since it can mess with the delicate balance of its profile? If you have a plate of sushi in front of you, don’t scarf it down like any other appetiser; take it slow, keep a serving of some sort of palate cleanser in handy so you can experience sushi in the best way. Here are some basic rules which will transform your sushi experience.

Consume Ginger Between Bites

Pickled ginger, or "gari," is commonly served alongside sushi as a palate cleanser. Use it to refresh your taste buds between different types of sushi or to cleanse your palate after eating particularly flavorful or fatty fish. However, avoid eating ginger directly before or during sushi consumption, as its strong flavour can overshadow the subtle nuances of sushi and diminish your dining experience. Save the ginger for in-between sushi pieces, not during consumption.

Don't Mix Different Types of Sushi on Your Plate

Many diners offer assorted sushi platters but it’s best to keep different types of sushi separated on your plate and avoid mixing them together. Each type of sushi is carefully crafted to highlight specific flavours and textures, and combining them indiscriminately can disrupt the balance of flavours. If you want to sample different types of sushi, eat them one at a time and cleanse your palate with pickled ginger between each piece.

Eat In One Bite

Sushi is designed to be eaten in one bite whenever possible. This practice allows you to experience the full spectrum of flavours and textures in each piece. If the sushi is too large to eat in one bite, politely ask the chef to prepare smaller pieces or use your chopsticks to carefully divide it into manageable portions. Avoid biting or cutting sushi in half, as it can compromise its integrity. 

Did you know that in Japan, leaving half-eaten sushi on your plate is seen as wasteful and disrespectful to the chef's craftsmanship? If you're unsure about a particular type of sushi or portion size, it's better to take a smaller piece initially and go back for more if you enjoy it.

Don't Mix Wasabi into Soy Sauce

While it might be a common practice in some Western countries, mixing wasabi into soy sauce is generally frowned upon in traditional sushi etiquette. Doing so can alter the intended flavors of both the soy sauce and the sushi. Instead, if you want to add wasabi to your sushi, place a small amount directly on top of the fish or seafood before eating.

Eat Sushi in the Correct Order

When served a variety of sushi, start with lighter, milder-flavored options and gradually move towards richer, more flavorful varieties. This progression allows you to fully appreciate the subtleties of each type of sushi without overwhelming your palate. However, if you’re a beginner, you can try starting with a sushi which features cooked fish. This will give your tastebuds time to settle in. Go with the California roll which is made with cooked crab, avocado and cucumber. 

When it comes to condiments, less is more

When dipping sushi into soy sauce, avoid soaking it excessively. The rice in sushi acts as a vessel to hold the fish or seafood, and soaking it in soy sauce can cause the rice to disintegrate and lose its texture. Instead, dip only the fish or seafood portion of the sushi lightly into the soy sauce, or use a small dish to control the amount of soy sauce you use.

Handle sashimi with Care

Sashimi consists of thinly sliced raw fish served without rice. When eating sashimi, handle the slices delicately with your chopsticks to avoid damaging their delicate texture. Dip each piece lightly into soy sauce if desired, but be mindful not to soak it excessively, as sashimi is meant to be enjoyed in its purest form.