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August 9, 2005 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Sushi Encyclopedism covers everything from history to ettiquette to comics to the difference between 鯉 and 鮪.
posted by 김치 (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I'll take a Kirin with that order.
posted by Mr Bluesky at 12:36 PM on August 9, 2005


Here in BCS Mexico sushi is very different from anywhere else I've had it:
1. If you order salmon sushi or sashimi, you will get SMOKED salmon.
2. All of the seafood is FULLY COOKED (other than the salmon, which is smoked).
3. All of the sushi has cream cheese in it.
posted by glider at 1:28 PM on August 9, 2005


Might as well just serve it on a saltine with some capers.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2005


Apparently I've been eating sushi wrong side up all along. Live and learn...
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:44 PM on August 9, 2005


SteveInMaine : "Apparently I've been eating sushi wrong side up all along."

So have all the Japanese folks I've ever eaten with (and that's quite a few).
posted by Bugbread at 1:55 PM on August 9, 2005


This still doesn't answer a question I have...
I have been told by several "experts" that it is considered very bad form to mix wasabi into your soy sauce. I have also been told that it is insulting to the chef to plop a little extra wasabi onto your sushi.
So, given all that, why do they include a generous dollop of wasabi on your plate? And what would be the "correct" way of adding some extra to your meal?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:57 PM on August 9, 2005


It's because your experts are wrong. Generally, in Japan, you don't get any wasabi with your sushi by default, because the wasabi is already on the sushi (between the rice and the fish). However, you may get it from time to time, and can always ask for it. There's no particular etiquette about how to apply it if you want to add it, either. With sashimi, you usually stir it into your soy sauce, so that approach works for sushi. You could also put it on the top of your sushi. Obviously, while I say there is no etiquette, common sense applies: do not smear wasabi over the table, eat the sushi, and then lick the table.

There may be some chefs who are offended by you putting wasabi on the sushi, but 1) they are being big dorks, and 2) they won't say anything to you. In the same way, in Western restaurants, there are chefs that would be offended if you put salt or pepper on whatever food they produce, but that doesn't mean that in Western culture it's bad form to put salt or pepper on your food, just that the chef is a big dork.
posted by Bugbread at 2:03 PM on August 9, 2005


This site is making me hungry.
posted by caddis at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2005


Ugh. Smoked Salmon & cream cheese in 'sushi'. So very wrong...
posted by Radio7 at 2:32 PM on August 9, 2005


I've been told that one eats straight sashimi with wasabi and soy, mixed if you like, but that nigirizushi, when prepared correctly, will have the correct proportion of wasabi to rice & fish already applied, and thus should not need additional 'doctoring.'

Rolls are something else entirely - I usually stick to sashimi myself.
posted by luriete at 2:39 PM on August 9, 2005


I dunno, google comes up with 24,800 hits for "スモークサーモン寿司" (smoke salmon sushi), and 7,620 hits for "スモークサーモンすし" (smoke salmon sushi, just written a different way), so I don't think that many Japanese would find it so very wrong. Most sites indicate it's either roll sushi, hand-rolled sushi, or pressed sushi, so I suppose the standard squeezed sushi (whatever it's called in English) might be seen as wrong...or just unusual.
posted by Bugbread at 2:41 PM on August 9, 2005


luriete : "I've been told that one eats straight sashimi with wasabi and soy, mixed if you like, but that nigirizushi, when prepared correctly, will have the correct proportion of wasabi to rice & fish already applied, and thus should not need additional 'doctoring.'"

Exactly. You don't really "need" wasabi with nigirizushi, because (unlike sashimi), it's already in there. Whether your chef will take your adding of more wasabi as a personal affront to his nigiri skillz or just as an indicator that you like extra wasabi comes down to his personality, and adding wasabi is not rude or uncouth.
posted by Bugbread at 2:43 PM on August 9, 2005


Yes, when I lived in Japan, wasabi usually came with your sushi, the Japanese did, in fact, add it to their soy sauce, and they they ate the nigiri sushi rice-side down. I even saw people rub wasabi on top of the fish side of their nigiri pieces. Either everyone I knew had horrible manners (including my host family, friends, CEOs, and even Shinto priests), or this article is onanism.

Can you really consider this "proper" technique when half the Japanese do it wrong, as the author says?
posted by Gamblor at 2:43 PM on August 9, 2005


The biggest difference I've noticed between sushi in America and Japan isn't the way it's eaten, but the larger size of the nigiri sushi piece in the US.

You can try and read more into it if you want (fat Americans, big mouths, etc.), but bigger pieces are actually harder to eat, since you have to do it in two bites. If quantity is an issue, why not serve twice as many pieces of half-sized nigiri style? Same amount of fish, much easier to eat.
posted by Gamblor at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2005


Here's some more links, one of my favorite subjects:

Videos on how to make sushi

Sushi Etiquette

Sushi maker
posted by Meaney at 2:53 PM on August 9, 2005


Sorry for the bad last link, it appears an extra quote is in the end, try this: Sushi Maker
posted by Meaney at 2:55 PM on August 9, 2005


I like it with a lot of wasabi and a lot of soy sauce. If this is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
posted by meh at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2005


I don't mix wasabi with my soy. I like different amounts with different fish- a nice dollop with my salmon or tuna, less so with "fishier" fish like mackerel. Never on eel.
posted by mkultra at 3:02 PM on August 9, 2005


From the second link (and previous discussion): man, what is the deal here with "insults to the chef"? Telling the chef that his food tastes like shit is an insult to the chef. Feeding the food to your dog is an insult to the chef. But adding wasabi? Putting too much soy sauce? Not eating every last bite? These are only insults to the chef if the chef is some sort of paranoid schizophrenic.

I'm guessing that whoever writes the articles either 1) pays an amazing amount of reverence to sushi chefs, and describes things they personally find distasteful as insulting to the chef because they figure it should be, or 2) figure that's the only way to get people to follow their advice.

Regardless, in a few hours, the day shift comes in, including a former sushi chef. I'll ask him about all these supposed insults.
posted by Bugbread at 3:02 PM on August 9, 2005


Apparently I've been eating sushi wrong side up all along.

Well, the idea is to not soak up so much soy sauce that you can't taste the fish. So as long as you're not dipping it for too long, you can keep on doing it the "wrong" way.

As for smoked salmon sushi -- this typically isn't lox on rice (unless you're at a really lousy sushi bar). Japanese smoked salmon is a much lighter smoke, so more of the natural salmon flavor comes through. It's actually pretty good.
posted by me3dia at 3:03 PM on August 9, 2005


From the second link (and previous discussion): man, what is the deal here with "insults to the chef"? Telling the chef that his food tastes like shit is an insult to the chef. Feeding the food to your dog is an insult to the chef. But adding wasabi? Putting too much soy sauce? Not eating every last bite? These are only insults to the chef if the chef is some sort of paranoid schizophrenic.

I would get somewhat insulted if I had cooked a meal for friends or family or strangers who then slathered it in ketchup without ever tasting it. If I spent a very long time getting the flavors just right and they didn't trust me.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:52 PM on August 9, 2005


i was trained by master shredder, in the sushi arts.
i alone know the true way to consume yellow tail.
you all are noobs, i roxor you.
posted by nola at 3:53 PM on August 9, 2005


i am the only occidental american to be shown the true secrets of the su-shi.

i hanged by my feet in a cave covered in bat shit to learn these secrets from my mentor master shredder. it was only later that my evil nemesis, matt cheddar killed my master, and stole the secrets of the su-shi.

later i would become immortal.
posted by nola at 4:00 PM on August 9, 2005


rhapsodie : "I would get somewhat insulted if I had cooked a meal for friends or family or strangers who then slathered it in ketchup without ever tasting it. If I spent a very long time getting the flavors just right and they didn't trust me."

And I would think "holy fuck, what is with these guys and their ketchup! It's not a discontinued foodstuff or anything, ya know?" But you'll note that the articles don't just provide disjoinders regarding putting wasabi on sushi or heavily dipping in soy sauce without tasting it first, but ever, even after tasting it.
posted by Bugbread at 4:05 PM on August 9, 2005


Been going to the same sushi restaurant for twenty years. The chef is a genuis, and we usually 'put ourselves in his hands.' He makes horse mackrel, preparing it while we watch, and serves the fillets nicely chopped and mixed with sesame seeds, nori and garlic on the carcass. Drunk guy next to us - it's a BYOB - finishes the sashimi and tries to eat the rest of the fish. My buddy the chef says "Noooooooooo!" We forgot to tell him that the chef was gonna take the head, tail and spine back to the kitchen when we were done and fry it up. Then it was ok to eat it.
posted by fixedgear at 5:27 PM on August 9, 2005


Well, I finally got some answers from our resident ex-chef, and they were a mix of expected and unexpected.

Regarding leaving food: In his opinion, leaving food wouldn't be an insult, but it would be somewhat worrying, as the chef might wonder what was wrong with the food.

Regarding using too much soy sauce: In his opinion, the chef wouldn't be insulted, but would think that the person eating the sushi was a bit of a neanderthal.

Regarding adding wasabi: In his opinion, the chef would be insulted, and there's a good rationale behind it: wasabi serves to kill off bacteria. Adding extra wasabi might be seen as a lack of faith in the freshness of the fish, which is a snub at the chef/restaurant.
posted by Bugbread at 5:41 PM on August 9, 2005


What a coincidence, last night thiswas in my mailbox, sushitarian slightly nsfw.
Nogisan sometimes will prepare saba bo sushi for me, says it is antique sushi, I love saba and tomago.great post ,think I will head down to Tsurugi's and have some.
posted by hortense at 5:42 PM on August 9, 2005


The difference between ? and ? always eluded me. Thanks, MeFi!
posted by jmccorm at 6:56 PM on August 9, 2005


how is it that the glossery has everything obvious and a ton of things I've never heard of, but lacks at least one thing I've had that I didn't think was exotic?

Perhaps whatever it is isn't actually a type of fish, but I get "kampachi" at my favorite sushi place quite often.
posted by flaterik at 10:29 PM on August 9, 2005


What really gets my goat is when I see someone eating a hamburger without a spoon!

/etiquette schmetiquette
posted by HTuttle at 11:17 PM on August 9, 2005


flaterik : "Perhaps whatever it is isn't actually a type of fish, but I get 'kampachi' at my favorite sushi place quite often."

Kampachi (寒八) is apparently "Amberjack" in English. It is definitely fish, and it isn't at all exotic (it would be hard to find a sushi restaurant that didn't have it).
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 AM on August 10, 2005


But adding wasabi? Putting too much soy sauce? Not eating every last bite? These are only insults to the chef if the chef is some sort of paranoid schizophrenic.

I don't think so. Sushi masters go to school for YEARS and take their craft very deathly seriously. It's gourmet food, yo. It's just that it's so much around our culture now that it's turning into fast food.

That said, I don't care if I offend the chef, I'll eat it the way I want. I just don't think they're crazy for wanting their creations eaten the way they intended them to be eaten.
posted by agregoli at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2005


Gamblor: bigger pieces are actually harder to eat

Agreed. I see these photos of the nigiri zushi that Tomoe Sushi serves in NYC and I think, "you'd have to cut that in half for me to enjoy that," (which is fine, but gets tiring after a while.
posted by gen at 7:46 AM on August 10, 2005


Well, actually, generally speaking, sushi masters don't go to any school, they learn in the field, but I understand there are now sushi schools. It's not gourmet food, per se, but food with a margin of gourmet. That is, it's like Italian food in America. There are spaghetti joints that rock the bottom of the food bucket, and have for years and years (the equivalent of 回転すし (revolving sushi, which has been around for almost 50 years)). There are high end Italian restaurants that perch on the top of the food hierarchy, and have for years (the equivalent of a high end sushi place). And there's everything in-between.
posted by Bugbread at 7:53 AM on August 10, 2005


That's funny, gen, because Tomoe was exactly one of the places I was thinking about when I wrote that. Yama is another that's guilty of supersizing all their pieces.
posted by Gamblor at 8:18 AM on August 10, 2005


Well, ok, you're right, sushi masters learn on the job so to speak. I still believe it's very intense training, no?

From all the sushi restaurants I've been to though, I know one thing - these chefs care DEEPLY about the food they are creating.
posted by agregoli at 10:36 AM on August 10, 2005


And, actually, sushi began as fast food, or street food.

Still, it's now a gourmet thing, and sushi chefs take a lot of time to present their food just so. Same as high-end Western chefs do. I personally think it's rude to eat high-end food in any way other than which the chef intends it to be eaten. Would you walk into an art gallery and say "Yeah, that's okay, but I'm going to add some more red"? Of course not.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:45 AM on August 10, 2005


agregoli : "I still believe it's very intense training, no?"

Yep. I'm just extremely pedantic, that's all.

dirtynumbangelboy : "I personally think it's rude to eat high-end food in any way other than which the chef intends it to be eaten."

Fair point. There are things I would do at a revolving sushi restaurant that I wouldn't at a high-end sushi restaurant. Still, I think being offended by how people season your food is just egotism on the chef's end. The fact that said chef worked long and hard to reach the skill level they've reached helps to explain that egotism, but not so much to justify it. Still, folks are human, so I wouldn't exactly go out of my way to offend someone just because they happened to choose a job field where they think they're hot shit.
posted by Bugbread at 11:05 AM on August 10, 2005


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