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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