Saturday, December 15, 2012

Something about Sushi

Traditionally it will take seven to ten years to train a Japanese sushi chef. The Japanese have a high standard for sushi requirements, an apprentice chef will spend the first couple of years just to housekeeping around the kitchen, then a few more years learning how to prepare rice and no student could advance the next step until they can do the rice perfectly.

There are many so called sushi chef outside Japan never really trained and they are always missing a few things and it is easy to spot. First, they don’t clean their chopping board and the knife after they cut the fish; second, they should have different knifes to cut different fishes; and they will never smoke when break time, because the smell of the cigarette on the hands may affect the taste of the fish.
How do you know a good sushi restaurant? Beside check out  the chef - see how he is handling the fish and rice, also check out the toilet - good chef cares about the hygiene and will never allow a dirty toilet in the restaurant, because they also use the same toliet when they need to go. If the toilet is not clean then imagine what they are serving you with their hands, so if you happen to be in one of those, do not eat there.

I have read it somewhere about some Japanese sushi master, when they go in to the restaurant  kitchen, the very first thing they will do is to taste and smell the tap water, because if the water has bad taste or smell, then it will be waste of time to make the sushi because it will affect the fresh ingredients. Surely in some cities, such as  New York, Barcelona, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Moscow, etc the tap water is filled with high level of chlorine and with rusty pipes, so the water there is the major issue as it has strong odor. A good sushi restaurant must be equipped with water purifier.
Some people don’t know the different between sushi and sashimi. Sushi are the ones with rice and those ones with a slice of raw fish on top of the rice called Nigiri.  How do you spot a good sushi? The balance between the rice and the fish is important (it can not be too much or too less rice), but the taste of the rice is the soul of sushi, if the rice tastes bad then it will ruin it, even the best fish can’t make it better. A good sushi chef will insist to use Japanese rice because its texture and taste are very different than others, the good sushi should not be sticky and wet, can not be hard and dry. Good sushi rice has the fregrance of the mixture of the rice and vinegar, something between sweet and a touch of sour.

Sashimi  is raw fish slice. A good old traditional Japanese restaurant in Japan almost never serve salmon because they consider it as a cheap fish, but modern sushi places don’t care because its profitable and easy to get the supply, but also many people these days just don't know any better.  I think there are much more fishes that taste better than salmon, such as yellow tail, Tuna's belly and white trevalley etc, You have to start with the best to train yourself to have a good taste, I suggest you go to the best sushi restaurant in your city, order the tuna fish belly then use it as the standard, then you will learn the difference between good and bad taste and texture. Yes, it will be pricy, but that's part of the game. To experience good food in the good restaurant will leave you a memory of a life time, so it will be well worth it.

Here is the list of the usual suspect of Sashimi or Nigiri:

akami maguro (red tuna), ohtoro maguro (expensive tuna with fat – toro means the belly meat of a tuna fish), aji (horse mackerel, often topped with chopped scallions and grated ginger), hamachi (yellow tail), ikura (salmon roe), isaki (similar taste to yellow tail), ika (squid), tako (octopus), anago (salt water eel), unagi (barbecued eel),  shima-aji  (white trevally), ama ebi (shrimp), kurodai (snapper), hotategai (scallop) and uni (sea urchin).

In Japan they sell  Fugu (Puffer Fish) in super markets, the liver of this fish has poison and it can kill very fast if you eat it wrong way, so cutting this fish has to be extremely experienced, the chef has to cut the fish really quickly before it puffed and know exactly where to cut, if he accidentally cuts the liver, then the poison will be spread to the whole fish. Since I am not sure if the person who cuts the Fugu is well trained, so better to go to some famous shop to have it, even tho they say, its poison is so deadly, will kill so fast, you will die with a smile because the fish is so tasty.

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