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How Well Do You Know Your Sushi?



It’s a lot more than just raw fish

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Ever walked into a Japanese restaurant and had the look of a lost child while going through the menu? If you are somebody who didn’t grow up eating sushi, it all looks complicated at first.

Japanese cuisine has been climbing up the popularity charts in India for a while now. While Japanese cuisine is much more than just sushi, the latter seems to be the most in-demand in our country. There is so much to know about sushi, so let’s start with the basics!


Sushi contrary to popular belief is in fact a dish that originated in ancient China. While Japan is certainly the sushi capital of the worldand responsible for introducing the dish to travellersthe origins of sushi traces it back to a Chinese dish called Narezushi. What started as a fish preservation technique in China has turned into a steady source of protein and rice for the Japanese people. Sushi can be segregated into five categories.


This is one of the most traditional sushi you will see in restaurants. It is usually fish (single topping) served on top of palm-pressed sushi rice, which is generally oblong in shape. There are of course vegetarian options available, but a side note to remember is that not all Nigiri are eaten raw. Though this dish is best eaten to appreciate the taste and flavour of seafood. Dunk the fish side down into the soy sauce, to prevent the rice from getting soggy and falling apart and you can enjoy a fresh batch of Nigiri.


This is a dish that requires a refined palate and taste. Sashimi isn’t for the weak-hearted. Sashimi is fish that is served raw without rice. This is for those who enjoy the taste of fish since it comes with nothing else.


Maki or Makizushi is a type of sushi that has a filling (fish, crab stick, avocado or even tempura asparagus) wrapped in sushi rice, which is then covered with seaweed. It’s cylindrical in shape and is what most people think of when they hear the word, sushi.


Uramaki like the Maki are cylindrical sushi. The only difference is that the seaweed and the filling are in the centre while the rice is the one covering it. Uramaki often have loads of toppings that are cooked or raw on it with sauces.


Temaki are cone-shaped sushi that is hand-pressed. It’s moulded around fillings and covered with nori (seaweed). It isn’t found as often in Indian restaurants, but a must-try if you get your hands on one.


Sushi is incomplete without its accompaniments. Is there a right way to eat the dollops of wasabi and pickled ginger? Let’s find out!

▶ Soy Sauce: A dipping sauce for sushi and sashimi, the salty and sweet flavour of the soy perfectly complements the rolls.

▶ Wasabi: The wasabi we get outside of Japan in most cases isn’t even real wasabi. It’s horseradish and mustard with green food colouring that is a lot sharper in taste than the original wasabi from the Wasabia Japonica plant. Real wasabi comes from its roots and tastes more complex and delicate. Used for adding an extra kick to your sushi, some also like it because it reduces the smell of fish and kills microbes from raw food. 

▶ Ginger: The pink stripes of ginger are pickled in vinegar and are supposed to be had in-between rolls. The powerful taste acts as a palette cleanser and helps you enjoy the unique taste of sushi.

▶ Ponzu Sauce: This citrusy sauce is a wonderful accompaniment for sashimi. The tangy taste of this dip (often added to soy sauce), adds a unique flavour while eating raw fish.

Now that you know about sushi, only concentrate on eating them. No, mastering the chopsticks isn’t necessary. Why you ask? Fingers were the original tools used to polish off a serving of sushi! So, don’t you worry, just dig in!


[Image Credit: Sholeh]