Sushi 101- Facts about sushi

Sushi 101- Facts about sushi

(from The Story of Sushi by Trevor Corson)

• Sushi traditionalists say the fish should never be raw—nor should it be completely fresh.


Sushi aficionados never look at a menu, seldom use chopsticks, and avoid soy sauce and extra wasabi.


• Today’s sushi began as a type of fast food—the 19th-century Japanese equivalent of a McDonald’s drive-thru.


• The word “sushi” doesn’t refer to fish at all—it refers to rice that has been seasoned with vinegar, sugar, and salt.


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• Americans assume sushi is good for them. In fact, most sushi rolls served in the U.S. are loaded with carbohydrates, sugar, fat, and sodium.


• Inside-out rolls are the mainstay of American sushi—and are an American invention. They didn’t exist in Japan until recently, when they were imported from the United States.


• The mound of wasabi you get at a sushi bar isn’t wasabi at all. Moreover, by mixing it in your soy sauce, you are reducing its potency—and offending the chef.


• Most Americans have never eaten a proper nigiri. Sushi chefs in the U.S. pack their nigiri much too tightly on purpose, because Americans don’t know how to eat them.


• A key flavor component of sushi served both in the U.S. and Japan is a form of MSG—which was invented not in China, but in Japan, by Japanese scientists studying seaweed.


• Japanese usually eat miso soup not at the beginning of the meal, but at the end—to aid digestion.


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• In Japan, an apprentice sushi chef spends two years learning to cook and season the rice, and another three learning to prepare fish, before he is allowed to work behind the sushi bar.


• In the U.S., high demand for sushi chefs means that many work behind the bar after only a few months of training.


• In Japan, women experience discrimination at sushi bars, both as customers and when they try to become chefs.


Sushi chefs do far more cooking behind the scenes than most customers realize. At the sushi bar, the chef must be not only a master of kitchen skills, but a savvy performer as well.


• Many sushi chefs believe that the customer eats not just with his mouth, but with his eyes. Preparing sushi is like creating a Zen garden.


• The knives used by sushi chefs are the direct descendants of samurai swords, and the blades must be sharpened and reshaped every day.


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• The priciest ingredient of modern sushi—bluefin tuna belly—was once so despised by the Japanese that they considered it unfit for human consumption.


• In today’s sushi, frozen fish is often “fresher” than fresh fish.


• Among sushi toppings, clams actually have more flavor than any of the fish. At the sushi bars of old Tokyo, customers often preferred boiled clams over raw slices of fish.


• One of the favorite sushi fishes—yellowtail—is factory farmed like veal and fattened until its muscles disintegrate while it’s still alive.


• The mass-production of sushi rolls was made possible by a pioneering female scientist in Britain in the 1940s. Japanese seaweed farmers have erected a shrine in her memory.


• The raw shrimp served in sushi all begin life as males—and then they all suddenly become females and have sex with their younger siblings.


• The best sushi chefs prepare octopus by giving the animal a lengthy, full-body massage—while the creature is still moving.




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