When you first begin your journey eating sushi it can be intimidating looking at all the new vocabulary and wondering whether or not you’re going to like what you order. Don’t worry, in this article I’m going to make it simple for you to understand.
There’s a common misconception that all sushi is uncooked and this isn’t true. There are several fish or crustacean that are HIGHLY recommended to be eaten cooked and are usually steamed then rolled up inside the sushi roll or eaten individually. These are: Crab Sticks, Crawfish, Squid, Octopus & Eel.
Before I go any further, I’d like to go through some terminology that can trip you up on a sushi menu. I’m going to list them out below:
Sushi Rolls – Any combination of ingredients rolled up into a roll traditionally using seaweed sheets with rice on the outside. These days rolls can include almost anything inside from vegetables to fish to even meat such as fried chicken…there are even dessert sushi rolls now!
Sushi Pieces – Individual Pieces of sushi with a rectangular shaped rice ball on the bottom and a piece of fish on top. Some restaurants label this as Nigiri.
Sashimi – Pieces of fish without any rice. Most are uncooked but as I stated above, you can have eel sashimi that’s cooked.
Box Sushi – Ingredients are layered, pressed into a bamboo box and are then cut into rectangles. This style of sushi tends to have more rice in it than a traditional sushi roll.
Hand Rolls – These look like seaweed wrapped ice cream cones and have a lot of meat inside them. If you’re into protein then these and the sashimi are what you’re looking for.
There are also all kinds of sauces and ingredients used today that are mixed into the sushi rolls or drizzled on top. In addition to Sriracha and chili oil below are the sauces we use the most.
House Sauce – This is a spicy sauce we drizzle on top of a lot of our rolls. It’s made up of mayonnaise and Sriracha.
Eel Sauce– Don’t let the name throw you off. This is a sweet delicious brown sauce that we drizzle on a lot of our rolls.
Ponzu– I’d describe this as a light soy sauce that has a citrus flavor to it. It really enhances the flavor of our Albacore Tuna or Tuna Tataki.
Furikake – This is a mixture of dry ingredients used in Japan like salt and pepper are used here. It’s typically made up of seaweed, sesame seeds, fish flakes, salt and a little sugar.
Nanami – This is a spicy citrusy blend of dry ingredients used in Japan that you would sprinkle on soup or anything you’d like to give it a kick. It’s made up of chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, and seaweed.
We also divide our sushi menu into two different categories. They are:
House Rolls – These are rolls that are only found here in West TN or that our own sushi chefs have created. They are larger than traditional rolls and sometimes made from nontraditional ingredients. I recommend trying these out if you’re a sushi lover.
Maki Rolls – Traditional rolls that you can find all over the word. For example, the California Roll fits into this category. They are smaller than our house rolls but just as delicious.
Let’s talk about how to eat sushi next. If you are visiting Japan or maybe a high end Sushi Bar in a large city then yes, the preferred method of eating sushi is with chopsticks or picking it up with your hands. But at our restaurant and many others we are happy if you are happy. We want you to eat your sushi however you’d like with a fork, chopsticks, hands, etc.
We’ve got to include ginger and wasabi when discussing how to eat sushi because it’s usually served on the same platter with your sushi. Ginger has a spicy sweetness and is great to clean your pallet. Plus, once you get used to it is very tasty. Served with the ginger is your green wasabi. It’s similar to horse radish as it will clean your sinuses out if you use too much. Some people like to eat it straight in little pieces with their sushi while others like mixing it in soy sauce and then dipping the sushi into it.
I hope you read this and are more confident in making decisions when faced with a sushi menu or feel free to refer back to this article if you forget something you read. And if you’re ever near Jackson, TN then stop in and try our sushi out. For multiple years in a row we’ve been voted Best Chinese, Best Japanese and Best Sushi!