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SUSHI
 - HISTORY, ETIQUETTE, EXPRESSIONS
By Joyce Millet

 

 

 

 

 

Reprint Permission

 

 

 

 

 



    History , Etiquette and Expressions of Sushi

Sushi began as a method of preserving fish. In the 18th Century, a chef named Yohei eliminated the fermentation process and served something which resembles the sushi eaten today.


What Is Sushi?


Fresh, clean raw fish was pressed between layers of salt and rice, with a stone placed on top for weight. The stone was eventually replaced with a cover.  After storing for a few months, the fish was ready to eat.

Sushi is NOT raw fish, but today refers to vinegared rice used in making sushi.  This should not be confused with Sashimi, which is the raw fish.

Nigiri sushi is fresh, delicate pieces of sashimi pressed on top of vinegared rice.  Nigiri sushi means squeezed sushi and was originally a specialty from Tokyo.  It was actually called Edo-mae, meaning in front of Tokyo (Edo is the old name for Tokyo) because the fresh fish came directly from the fish market at Tokyo Bay. 

 

How To Order


   How to Order Sushi at a Sushi Bar

Many experienced sushi lovers, referred to as sushi-tsu
(tsu in Japanese means an expert at something) will begin with a selection of sashimi.  

Not only does this let the chef show off his best and freshest fish, but shows respect to the chef when you let him present you with his choices.  

When sitting at the sushi bar, just tell the chef what you want. In the U.S. this can usually be done in English.  Most places will have little table tent cards with both the English and Japanese.  In the U.S. do not be surprised to find that some of the people behind the bar do not speak Japanese.

 

Etiquette


Sashimi is eaten with chopsticks, never fingers. Sashimi is dipped in a small dish with soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese horseradish), to taste.  Wasabi is powerful stuff, and is great when you have a cold or stuffy nose!

Sushi is a finger food, particularly nigiri sushi.  Don't try to demonstrate your chopsticks skills here.  Pick up the sushi in your fingers, turn it over so that you lightly dip the fish, NOT the rice, in the soy sauce.  Do not bite off a piece and put the remainder back on the plate.  If, however, you are eating at a restaurant that does not understand sushi is supposed to be bite size, you may have no choice. NOTE: many sushi chefs take great pride in preparing original and unique sushi and will have already applied a special sauce of flavoring so be cautions about just dipping it in soy sauce and wasabi.

You msy also receive a new small dish for soy sauce.  Do not add wasabi to the dish, as it has already been placed on the fish by the chef.  AND, if you are dining at a sushi bar where the Chef prides himself on creative offerings, particularly with special sauces, do NOT dip your sushi  in soy sauce.  If you like it extremely hot, ask the chef for extra wasabi when ordering.

Useful Sushi Bar Vocabulary

Nigiri Sushi

A Japanese proverb says...

"The pleasant experience of eating something you have never had before, will extend your life by 75 days!"

 

Agari   

Slang for green tea (standard meaning = completed)

Daikon 

Japanese radish served shredded as a garnish

Gari  

Slang for ginger, eaten to cleanse palate

Gyoku

Slang for egg, or tamago (standard meaning = jewel)

Itamae-san

Sushi Chef

Kappa

Cucumber

Katamoi

Sea Urchin

Kusa

Slang for seaweed (standard meaning = grass)

Murasaki

Slang for soy sauce (standard meaning = purple)

Namida

Slang for wasabi (standard meaning = tears)

Odori-ebi

Live, or "dancing shrimp", a delicacy

Ote-moto

Chopsticks

Sabi

Slang for wasabi

Sabi-nuki

Slang for "no wasabi" on the sushi

Shari

Vinegared rice used for sushi

Temaki

Hand roll, looks like an ice cream cone

Yunomi

Extra large tea cups 

 
Useful Expressions
 

Omakase 
shimasu

Said to the chef meaning "Please choose for me"

Itadakimasu

Said before eating any meal

Kampai

Cheers!

Gochisoo
sama deshita

Said at the end of any mean, meaning "It was a feast"

Oaiso kudasai

Please give me the check

   
Copyright © 2015  Joyce Millet   All Rights Reserved
   
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