Wednesday 14 December 2016

Do You Know Your Sushi?

Mention sushi and you’ll visualize a slice of mouth-watering raw salmon placed delicately on a small clump of rice.  Oops…maybe that’s not sushi, could it be sashimi or nigiri or…?

For the uninitiated or confused, sashimi is fresh, raw seafood sliced into thin & small pieces. Each slice is then dipped in soy sauce with wasabi paste before it is popped into your mouth!

Sushi on the other hand is vinegared rice served with a variety of toppings, not necessarily just raw fish. Do bear in mind there are many types of sushi.  Some of the popular ones are: 

Nigiri [nigirizushi]

Oblong mound of vinegared rice with fish, shellfish, etc. on top. 
Countless varieties of nigirizushi - most common are tuna, shrimp, eel, squid, octopus & fried egg.

How to eat it
Place nigiri between your thumb & fore/index fingers, turn it upside down, & dip the topping in the soy sauce. 
Done this way because dipping rice-side first will cause it to fall apart. 
Place it in your mouth fish side down.

Maki rolls [makizushi]

Cylindrical pieces of vinegared rice & other ingredients (thin slices of cucumber, soy paper, or thin omelette skin) wrapped in nori (seaweed sheets). 
Made by rolling ingredients with a bamboo sushi mat & then slicing the pipe-shaped roll into cylindrical pieces.

How to eat it
Eaten with your fingers. 
When rice is on the outside, this is called uramaki.

Temaki [temakizushi]

Rolled cone of seaweed, wrapped around rice and fillings.
How to eat it
Eaten from the hand.
Eat right away after it is made while the nori is still crispy.
Dip in the soy sauce with rice/ingredients from the top, or pour soy sauce slowly from the top.
Eat from the top with several bites.

Chirashi [chirashisushi]

Dish of seafood, mushrooms & vegetables spread over sushi rice. 
Resemble seafood domburi, the difference is chirashizushi uses sushi rice while domburi uses regular, unseasoned rice.

How to eat it
Eaten with chopsticks.
Eat the pieces one by one.
Don't pour soy sauce over the rice.

SUSHI RICE | How is it prepared?

It’s important the right type of rice is used otherwise the grains won’t stick together & hold its shape.  Imagine nigirizushi falling apart when you pick it up with your fingers! We don’t want that!

First of all, the rice must be the short-grain variety – round & with a length about the same as the width. Technique of cooking sushi rice differs slightly from ordinary rice, most of us might find it complicated.  
[Refer to this link: if you’ll like to give it a try.]

What’s the purpose of sushi vinegar?
The all-important reason for adding sushi vinegar is because sushi rice requires a vinegary solution so that the pH can be lowered to 4.1 in order to kill microbes for safe consumption. In addition to that, it also adds flavour to sushi rice.  

If sushi vinegar is not available, it could be replaced with rice vinegar.  However it will taste flat as it lacks the seasoning of salt & sugar. 

FISH | How safe is it for consumption?

Fresh fish is ALWAYS used for sushi and it MUST be frozen when bought. Freezing has to take place quickly so that the ice crystals formed are very short & don't pierce through cell walls.

If freezing is not done properly, some fish that may contain anisaris, a parasitic worm, may cause severe harm to humans.  Anisaris generally tends to infest:

Swordfish          Tuna          Sardines          Hake          Cod          Haddock

Monkfish          Scabbered fish

The good news is it dies at temperatures above 65 °C or below -20 °C. So, after freezing for at least 96 hours, the fish can be transferred to the fridge to defrost, but not completely. After a few hours in the fridge, the fish can be taken out to be cut then put back to finish defrosting.

Enjoy your sushi!

Shared by Azni Zainal Abidin
Guest Blogger

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