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Sushi Modern Day

nigiri sushi

Sushi is a type of food eaten in Japan, and many areas of the world. There are more than 40,000 sushi eateries in Japan, and another 16,000 around the world, including about 4000 in the USA. Because of the popularity of sushi there are new sushi eateries opened every day. Sushi is being served not only at upscale Japanese restaurants and take outs but also at local grocery stores.

Sushi to most of us means rolled sushi rolls(sushi maki), including various rice roll types, with different vegetable, cooked or raw fish/meat/chicken ingredients, with toppings, and garnishes; however, sushi also includes a variety menu of sushi specialty rolls, nigiri sushi, sashimi sushi, together with noodle and rice bowls, sushi appetizers, and more.

Nowadays, Tokyo, and all cities in Japan have sushi bars, and many expensive sushi restaurants. Sushi is sold in super markets, vending machines, sushi bars, and at conveyor belt sushi bars, where sushi literally goes around on a conveyor, and customers choose what they want.

In Japan, prices can be modest, or really pricey at upscale restaurants, where a personalized meal with your own sushi chef can cost from $150-$200 per customer.

Sushi Ingredients

make sushi vege vegan roll
Sushi is healthy and affordable, especially if you make your own. This together with the appeal of sushi:its colorful display of food art, is enticing to many. And, since North America has westernized sushi with new sushi roll types; everyone from vegetarians to raw fish lovers to meat and chicken eaters can enjoy the sushi expierence. The great thing about making sushi is you can be as creative as you like with the ingredients.

The Sushi Maki Roll
This is the most common type of sushi roll. usually made with a combination of vege and fish or meat ingredients. Sushi consists of seasoned rice, placed on nora (roasted seaweed sheets), with ingredients added like - avocado, cucumber, carrots, imitation crab, shrimp, tuna, salmon, to name a few.
View sushi maki rolls with photos, here

Once the ingredients are added, the nora is rolled, then sliced into rolls, small enough to be eaten with your hands. Toppings may also be added like spicy sauce, roasted seasame seeds, and veges like sliced avocado and cucumber.

The Sushi Specialty Roll
Specialty rolls, are made with more toppings and/or condiments than a maki roll. They usually have 6 pieces, and are artfully displayed on the serving dish. Their visual appeal is what makes them unique. View sushi specialty rolls with photos here

how to make sushi, make the dynamite roll sushi
The dynamite roll is an example of a specialty roll - has 3 ingredients within the roll, and also has tempura shrimp on top of the roll, and is garnished with both Japanese mayo and teriyaki sauce.

Sushi Types
Tradionally, sushi was made with raw fish, however modern day sushi, especially in places outside of Japan, make sushi with many cooked ingredients like imitation crab(cooked), and cooked shrimp.

Sushi can also include:

sushi temaki- hand rolled, roasted seaweed sushi cone which has the same ingredient choices as found in sushi rolls;
sushi inari - sushi rice in a tofu pocket;
sushi nigiri - sliced raw/cooked fish or a vegetable like avocado, served on small portion of formed sushi rice; and
sushi sashimi - raw fish served by itself.

Sushi rolls can be different sizes as well: the smallest rolls with one ingredient are called hosomaki, whereas the largest size rolls, with 3 or more ingredients are called futomaki. The most popular sushi roll is the medium size rolls, usually just known as "maki rolls".

Sushi Rolls can also be named after places: like the california roll, boston roll, hawaiian roll. These rolls can include either cooked or raw fish, with toppings of fish or veges, or drizzled with sauces.

Eating Sushi

Sushi is eaten with your hands mostly. Each roll is eaten in one bite, especially the small and medium rolls. If eating a larger roll you may need to take two bites.

You can use chop sticks to eat sushi although not necessary. In Japan, chop sticks are mostly used to eat sushi 'nigiri', and sushi 'sashimi'. Maki rolls are usually eaten with ones hands.

You can dip your sushi in a sauce, depending on what your eating. Usually soy sauce is served with maki rolls and, if your eating nigiri(raw fish on rice) you can dip the fish portion into a dipping sauce for fish. The thing is not to dip your rice because it will not do well once dipped in the sauce.

Sushi rolls are often topped with a type of sauce as well; popular ones include, Japanese mayo, spicy mayo, teriyaki sauce, and ponzu.

The pickled ginger served with your sushi is eaten after each type of serving to help with digestion and cleanse the pallet, and do eat it by itself. Wasabi is usually added to nigiri ,on top of the rice, and then the fish placed on it. It can also be eaten with your rolls. Wasabi is quite potent in taste, moreso than the ginger, so best try a very small amount if you haven't eaten it before.

Inari is usually just eaten with your hands, and not dipped in anything. It is a bean curd pouch(somewhat sweet) filled with sushi rice and is quite good. Sometimes garnishes are added to it.

The temaki roll is similar to a sushi roll in that it has all the same ingredients, however they are rolled cone like in a nora seaweed sheet, and eaten with your hands.

Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish portions served by themselves, and eaten with a fish dipping sauce or small amount of wasabi. Sashimi is usually eaten with chopsticks. It is traditionally served with daikon radish, pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce, and is the first course in a meal.

Ordering Sushi

A sushi menu will have all the sushi items we just mentioned, and many more, including the many different types of fish, and also miso soups, salads, noodle dishes, dumplings(gyoza), sushi rice bowls, bento boxes, and sushi party trays.

Prices will vary slightly, but overall, sushi prices within a city for sushi take outs are quite similar. Quantities may vary somewhat, so when ordering, take note of the quantity of each menu item. Sushi rolls are usually in 6 per serving for a small order and prices can start at $5-6 per order. Dining at a sushi restaurant may cost considerably more than a sushi take out.

If trying sushi for the first time, you can order vegetable rolls, or california rolls. Vege rolls are just veges, like avocado, carrot, cukes, and california roll has cooked imitation crab, avocado, cuke. No raw fish in either of these rolls.

You could also try nigiri vege. It is a small portion of sushi rice topped with a vegetable like avocado. View Avocado nigiri with photos An order of nigiri usually has two pieces. Also popular are nigiri shrimp, nigiri tempura shrimp, nigiri imitation crab, and nigiri tobiko.

how to make shrimp nigiri

Inari is also good to order, just sushi rice in a sweetened tofu pouch.

make inari sushi

View sushi inari with photos

Also popular is "tempura sushi', which is fish(like shrimp) or veges fried in a tempura batter. View sushi, shrimp tempura appetizer

When ordering, from the menu, the various sushi rolls will be shown as maki rolls and their ingredients will be shown along with the quantity per order. So, if you want to order, 6 avocado rolls, you would just order "6 maki rolls avocado" or "avocado maki one order" . If you want to order the california roll, you would order, "california rolls" or "one order california roll".

And, if your want the small sushi rolls, say with cucumber, you would order "hosomaki cucumber". These are usually the cheapest rolls because they have only one ingredient, but prices can vary depending on how many they serve per order.
View sushi hosomaki rolls with photos, here

When ordering Sashimi(just raw fish by itself), just choose which type of fish you want and the quantity. An order of sashimi is usually 3 slices of fish, although some sushi places allow you to order one slice.

Sushi menus have the fish names in Japanese;

If you want to order "Nigiri Shrimp"(cooked shrimp) it would be "Nigiri ebi ", because ebi means shrimp that is cooked.

If you want "sushi rolls" with cooked imitation crab, you would order "surimi (kana) rolls", because surimi means cooked imitation crab.

Tuna(Maguro) is usually raw - chutoro, and otoro are the best cuts,

If ordering raw scallops - hotate, raw salmon - sake, raw eel - unagi, and uni - sea urchin. Both Sushi Nigiri and Sushi Rolls can be ordered with your choice of fish.

Most menus show the 'fish name' as we know it, and the 'Japanese sushi fish name', so if you don't know the 'sushi fish name', you can simply order using the common name.

The California Roll

photo sushi California Roll

Probably the most well known sushi roll in north america is the california roll (uramaki-meaning rice is on outside of roll). Ingredients are cooked imitation crab and avocado and cucumber. Instead of using the tradional rolling method, the california roll is rolled with the rice on the outside, and often sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds.

This roll was made famous by a sushi chef in California in the 1960s. Apparently, he thought hiding the nora, and showing the rice on the outside might entice more customers to try sushi.

California rolls are not as well known in Japan as they are in North America, although some sushi bars do make them.

The Origins of Sushi

Sushi was introduced in Japan in the 5th century, and was at the time a process to preserve fish. The fresh fish was added to vinegared rice, and when ready to eat, the rice was discarded. Then someone had the idea to add nora (seaweed), and keep the rice, and from that sushi was introduced into Japanese culture.

The early sushi chefs sold sushi from small stalls not far from where the fresh fish was caught in the Tokyo bay. Of course, modern day sushi chefs are skilled with years of training compared to their sushi pioneers.

When Tokyo had its great disaster in the 1800s(earthquake), many sushi chefs fled Tokyo area and moved inland or other areas of asia. This is how sushi became well known throughout Asia.

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