The waitstaff wasn't particularly friendly (even no-flash photography was verboten) and it's not cheap, but the quality of the fish is fantastic. Sushi rolls and sashimi platters feature fish that does what it's supposed to, with little help from seasoning or the staff — it makes you roll your eyes back and savor. If you're looking for sushi in Miami, you won't go wrong here. And for all these reasons, this dish made my list of most memorable meals of 2011.
Click for more of the Most Memorable Meals of 2011.
Sushi and sashimi knives
Sushi and Sashimi knives are extremely sharp, hand-crafted for a specific task, and require very specific instructions to handle and maintain.
What is the difference between sushi and sashimi knives?
There are many steps to making a sushi roll: cutting vegetables, cutting fish, and then cutting the roll itself. A sushi knife is multifaceted for cutting during all three, but a sashimi knife is made specifically for cutting fish.
Most sushi knives are made of high-carbon steel (not stainless steel). This means that the steel rusts easily, but is capable of attaining a much sharper edge.
One unique trait of sushi and sashimi knives is their single beveled edge. These knives are sharpened so that only one side holds the cutting edge and the other side remains flat. The flat edge is there so that food doesn’t stick to the knife.
It is rumored that most sushi knives are right-handed because it is better to cut fish with, where as left handed knives are better for cutting shell fish. Left handed knives are usually custom made and very expensive.
Another unique quality of the knives is the handle. Traditionally, the handle was shaped with a “D” cross section. This was to make using the knife for long periods of time more comfortable. The handles are made with various types of wood and usually a bone cap towards the top.
The last unique trait of sushi and sashimi knives (which can also be seen in Japanese Katana) is the Tang. The tang refers to the metal portion of the handle that runs down the length. There are full tang knives and half tang knives. Full tang runs the entire length of the handle where as half tang does not.
Types of Sushi Knives
- (three virtues)- used for fish, meat, and vegetables. This is a western-style knife that was designed to be a “one size fits all.” It is not a traditional knife, but it’s used a lot in Japanese homes.
While there are a few more types of knives used in the sushi industry, they are extremely rare and absolutely accessory. The above listed are considered the “essential” knives for sushi.
Click on my page to learn about the proper knife etiquette for sushi and sashimi knives. This page will go over the general use of knives, how to hold them, and a few interesting facts about Japanese etiquette vs. Western etiquette.
Buying a Sushi Knife
In this section, I will go over the Do’s and Don’ts of buying knives. There are plenty of websites out there that will tell you that they sell “high quality, cheap knives.” But I assure you, the terms “high quality” and “cheap” don’t belong in the same sentence when it comes to sushi knives. You definitely get what you pay for.
- Honyaki (true forged)- made from a single, high grade steel
- Kasumi (mist)- made from two types of high grade metal (usually a hard, iron center and a softer high carbon steel)
When should you buy your own sushi knife?
Honestly, I went through two years of working at different sushi bars before investing in one of my own. Owning your own knife isn’t necessary, but it is convenient.
Don’t buy stainless steel sushi knives!
No questions asked. Stainless steel knives used for sushi are not as efficient, produce more mess than they are worth, and are not traditional. Don’t buy them.
If money isn’t an issue, buy a Honyaki.
A Honyaki knife is typically a higher quality knife. Made by a single piece of steel and using a more traditional crafting/cooling process, a honyaki will have a higher carbon content without sacrificing it’s durability. Though, you should be careful of retailers that claim their knives are honyaki. Do a little research on the makers of the blades and always watch the price point. I would say that a good starting price for a true honyaki is about $500USD.
What type of knife should I get?
This is entirely up to what you plan on doing with it. As a general rule of thumb, a Yanagiba will be the only knife that you will need (other than the knives you already own). However, as you start to make sushi more often you might want to consider getting other sushi and sashimi knives, such as an Usuba or Deba.
What about the Tang?
Previously, I thought that a full tang was the only way to go (mostly because my fondness with blades started with the Katana). However, unless you are planning to go into combat or use your knife to pry open your car door (please don’t), you don’t need a “full tang.” In fact, there are some chefs that argue that a full tang knife has higher sanitation risks! There are several styles of knives that have a full tang with two pieces of the handle riveted onto it these are typically seen in European knives.
Traditional Japanese knives use a partial tang, or a “rat tail.” This means that the metal from the blade is tapered down and surrounded by the handle. The main reasoning for this is to secure the blade to the handle and add more balance to the weight of the blade.
If you order a knife and you can see a gap between where the neck ends and the collar begins (this is the bone or horn cap on the handle), send it back. The blade needs to be completely seated within the handle when you purchase your knife. In my experience, seeing that gap leads to the the blade becoming completely unseated over time.
History of Sushi Knives
The techniques of hand crafting sushi knives date back to the 14th century-with many of the techniques (from sword smiths) going back as far as 1000 years ago. During the modernization of Japan (19th century), carrying Samurai swords became illegal. As such, the majority of sword craftsmen turned their business towards crafting sushi knife cutlery.
As with every art form in Japan, there are hundreds of years of accumulated knowledge and experience that are passed down from master to apprentice. Specific rules and procedures put into place and secrets of the trade passed on by personal exposure- Creating sushi knives is no exception.
In Japan, there is one region that is world renowned for their metal work- Sakai City. Sakai has been known for their metal work since 500 A.D., after one of Japan’s emperors died and decreed that a temple be built in his name.
After the temple was complete (many years before his death), many of the blacksmiths settled around Sakai permanently. Having all of the best blacksmiths of Japan living in one place, it’s no wonder that Sakai become famous for their work.
Starting with swords, then rifles after the Portuguese introduced them, and then eventually sushi knives- Sakai, to this day, is known for their high quality metal work.
“Sushi (Nigiri Sushi)” Sashimi ( 刺身 ) literally means “pierced body,” and while the origin of its name is not yet known, some say it comes from the samurai days of the Muromachi era (14th-16th century) and some say it is derived from a fishing method in which a fish’s brain is pierced right after being caught in order to preserve its quality and freshness. Whatever the case, sashimi is culinary tradition shared with China and other Southeast Asian countries that have long eaten raw fish and meats. While sushi usually refers to a method of eating fish and meats (raw or cooked) with vinegar rice, making it the main meal, sashimi is only slices of fish/meats and thus is mostly served as an appetizer, or tapas, to go with sake or beer. Sashimi in Japan can be called “otsukuri”.
Unlike nigiri sushi where the fish is cut in a way to accompany the rice, sashimi is meant to stand on its own. Therefore, there are very strict rules on how a fish should be sliced in order to maximize the taste and texture of the fish/meats. Because seasoning is very limited, with the purpose of sashimi being to enjoy the freshness of the fish as is, sashimi is served at the beginning of a meal before flavors from other dishes affect the palate.
Abura Bouzu - ah-boo-rah boh-zoo) or Abura Sokomutsu (ah-boo-rah soh-koh-moo-tsoo) – This is Escolar (Oilfish) and sometimes called Shiro Maguro, although it is not tuna and should not be confused with that fish. Bright white in color and quite fatty, this fish is not always easy to find. Due to the high levels of fatty esters, this particular fish may cause digestive issues with some individuals, and for that reason has been prohibited in Japan since the 1970′s. If your body can tolerate it, the creamy texture and clean taste can be quite appealing. While escolar can be found called Abura Bouzu, this is in fact a different fish, called the "skilfish.
Aburage - ah-boo-rah-ah-geh)-Fried tofu pouches usually prepared by cooking in sweet cooking sake, shoyu, and dashi. Used in various dishes, in Miso Shiru and for Inari Zushi.
Aemono - ah-eh-moh-noh) -Vegetables (sometimes meats) mixed with a dressing or sauce.
Agari - ah-gah-ree) – A Japanese sushi-bar term for green tea.
Agemono - ah-geh-moh-noh) – Fried foods — either deep-fat fried or pan-fried.
Ahi - aaa-hee) – Yellowfin Tuna.
Aji - ah-jee) - Horse mackerel, Jack Mackerel (less fishy tasting than Spanish mackerel). Purportedly this is not actually a mackerel, but member of the Jack family. It is small – about 6" in length and they fillet it and serve marinated in vinegar.
Aji-no-moto - ah-jee-no-moh-toh) – Monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Aka miso - ah-ka-mee-soh) – Red soy bean paste.
Akagai - ah-ka-gah-ee) – Pepitona clam, red in colour, not always available.
Akami - ah-kah-me) – the leaner flesh of tuna from the sides of the fish. If you ask for ‘maguro’ at a restaurant you will get this cut.
Ama Ebi - ah-mah-eh-bee) – Sweet Shrimp, Red Prawns. Always served raw on nigirizushi. Sometimes served with the deep-fried shells of the shrimp. Eat the shells like you would crayfish.
An - ahn) – Sweetened puree of cooked red beans. Also called Anko, thought not to be confused with Monkfish, also called Anko, but contextually the difference will be apparent to Japanese speakers.
Anago - ah-nah-goh) – Salt water eel (a type of conger eel) pre-cooked (boiled) and then grilled before serving, less rich than unagi (fresh water eel).
Ankimo - ahn-kee-moh) - Monkfish liver, usually served cold after being steamed or poached in sake.
Anko - ahn-koh)- Monkfish.
Aoyagi - ah-oh-yah-gee) – Round clam. Also called Hen Clam.
Awabi - ah-wah-bee) – abalone.
Ayu - ah-yoo) – Sweetfish. A small member of the trout family indigenous to Japan, usually grilled.
Azuki - ah-zoo-kee) – Small red beans used to make an. Azuki connotes uncooked form.
Beni shoga - beh-nee shoh-gah)- Red pickled ginger. Used for Inari Zushi, Futomaki, and Chirashizushi, but not for Nigirizushi.
Bonito - bo-nee-toh) – See Katsuo (kah-tsoo-oh).
Buri - boo-ree) – Yellowtail. Hamachi refers to the young yellowtail and Buri are the older ones.
Buri Toro - boo-ree toh-roh) – Fatty Yellowtail. The belly strip of the yellowtail. Incredibly rich with a nice buttery flavour.
Butaniku - boo-ta-nee-koo) – Pork. Buta means pig.
California Roll - maki) A California roll is an american style roll created in California for the American palate. It usually consists of kamaboko (imitation crab meat) and avocado, sometimes including cucumber.
Chikuwa - chee-koo-wah) – Browned fish cake with a hole running through its length.
Chirashi-zushi - chee-ra-shee-zoo-shee) – translates as "scattered sushi", a bowl or box of sushi rice topped with a variety of sashimi.
Chutoro - choo-toh-roh) – The belly area of the tuna along the side of the fish between the Akami and the Otoro. Often preferred because it is fatty but not as fatty as Otoro.
Daikon - Dah-ee-kohn) – giant white radish, usually served grated as garnish for sashimi.
Dashi - dah-shee) – Basic soup and cooking stock usually made from, or from a combination of Iriko (dried Anchovies), Konbu (type of Kelp) and Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). However any form of stock can be called “dashi”.
Donburi - dohn-boo-ree) – A large bowl for noodle and rice dishes. Also refers specifically to a rice dish served in such a large bowl with with the main items placed on top of the rice, Examples include Tendon (Tenpura Donburi) and Unadon (Unagi Donburi).
Ebi - eh-bee) – Shrimp. Not the same as Sweet Shrimp, as Ebi is cooked, while Ami Ebi is served in raw form.
Edamame - eh-dah-mah-meh) – Young green soybeans served steamed and salted and usually still in the pod.
Fugu - foo-goo) – Fugu is puffer fish which is a delicacy, though its innards and blood contain extremely poisonous tetrodotoxin. In Japan only licensed fugu chefs are allowed to prepare fugu or puffer fish.
Fuki - foo-kee) – Fuki is a Japanese butterbur plant which contains a bitter substance called "fukinon" (a kind of ketone compound), but upon blanching fukinon is easily washed out from its petioles (edible parts) and is prepared for an excellent Japanese vegetable dish.
Futo-Maki - foo-toh-mah-kee) – Big, oversized rolls.
Gari - gah-ree) – Pickled ginger (the pink or off-white stuff) that comes along with Sushi.
Gobo - goh-boh) – Long, slender burdock root.
Gohan - goh-hahn) – Plain boiled rice.
Goma - goh-mah) – Sesame seeds.
Gunkan-maki - goon-kahn-mah-kee) – Battleship roll. This is where the maki is rolled to form a container for the liquid or soft neta. Used for oysters, uni, quail eggs, ikura, tobiko, etc.
Gyoza - gi-yoh-zah) – A filled wanton dumpling that has been either fried or boiled.
Ha-Gatsuo - ha gat-soo-oh) – Skipjack tuna. This meat is similar to bonito but is a lighter, pinker product.
Hamachi - hah-mah-chee) – Young Yellowtail tuna, or amberjack, worth asking for if not on menu.
Hamaguri - hah-mah-goo-ree) – Hard shell Clam. Includes American littlenecks and cherrystones.
Hamo - hah-moh) – Pike Conger Eel. Indigenous to Japan.
Hanakatsuo - hah-nah-kah-tsoo-oh) – Dried bonito fish, shaved or flaked. Usually sold in a bag. Also called Katsuobushi (bonito flakes).
Harusame - hah-roo-sah-meh) – Thin, transparent bean gelatin noodles.
Hashi - hah-shee) – Chopsticks. Also called O-Hashi.
Hatahata - hah-tah-hah-tah) – Sandfish. Indigenous to Northern Japan.
Hijiki - hee-jee-kee) - Black seaweed in tiny threads.
Hikari-mono - hee-kah-ree-mo-no) - A comprehensive term for all the shiny fish. However usually refers to the shiny oily fish, such as Aji, Iwashi, Sanma, Kohada.
Himo - hee-moh) - The fringe around the outer part of any clam.
Hirame - hee-rah-meh) – Generally speaking this name is used for many types of flat fish, specifically fluke or summer flounder. The name for winter flounder is really "karei" (kah-ray), but often restaurants do not discriminate between fluke or summer flounder when one asks for hirame. Some restaurants call halibut "hirame," however the actual Japanese word for halibut is "ohyo" (oh-yoh).
Hocho - hoh-choh) - General Japanese term for cooking knives. Can be classified as Traditional Japanese style (Wa-bocho) or Western style (yo-bocho)
Hokkigai - hohk-kee-gah-ee) - Surf Clam (also called Hokkyokugai). Sort of a thorn-shaped piece, with red coloring on one side.
Hotate-Gai - hoh-tah-teh-gah-ee) – Scallops.
Ika - ee-kah) – Squid. As sushi or sashimi the body is eaten raw and the tentacles are usually served parboiled then grilled or toasted.
Ikura - ee-koo-rah) – salmon roe. (FYI, Ikura means ‘How much?’ in Japanese) The word Ikura is shared with the Russian word “Ikra” meaning salmon roe.
Inada - ee-nah-dah) - Very young yellowtail.
Inari-Zushi - ee-nah-ree-zoo-shee) – [see an image] – Aburage stuffed with sushi rice.
Kaibashira - kah-ee-bah-shee-rah) – large scallops, actually giant clam adductor muscle, though often scallops are served, much like cooked scallops but more tender and sweeter. Kobashiri are small scallops and like kaibashira may or may not come from scallops or other bivalves.
Kajiki - kah-jee-kee) – Billfish including Swordfish and Marlins. Swordfish specifically is called Me-Kajiki or Kajiki-Maguro.
Kaki - kah-kee) – Oysters.
Kamaboko - kah-mah-boh-ko) – Imitation crab meat (also called surimi) usually made from pollack. Generally used in California rolls and other maki, it’s not the same thing as "soft shell crab."
Kampyo - kahn-piyoh) – Dried gourd. Unprepared is a light tan color. Prepared it’s a translucent brown. It comes in long strips, shaped like fettuccine.
Kani - kah-nee) – Crab meat. The real stuff. Always served cooked, much better if cooked fresh but usually cooked and then frozen.
Kanpachi - kahn-pa-chi) – Greater Amberjack. This is similar to hamachi, but this is actually a different fish (and is not Yellowtail or the Japanese Amberjack).
Karasu Garei - kah-rah-soo gah-ray) – Literally translated this means "cow flounder" and is the term for Atlantic halibut.
Karei - kah-reh-ee) – Winter flounder.
Katsuo - kah-tsoo-oh) – Bonito. It is usually found in sushi bars on the West Coast because it lives in the Pacific Ocean, and doesn’t freeze very well. Sometimes confused with Skipjack Tuna, which is incorrect as Skipjack Tuna is called "ha-gatsuo."
Katsuobushi - kah-tsoo-oh boo-shi) - Bonito flakes. Smoked and dried blocks of skipjack tuna (katsuo) that are shaved and uses usually to make dashi, or stock.
Kazunoko - kah-zoo-noh-koh) – herring roe, usually served marinated in sake, broth, and soy sauce, sometimes served raw, kazunoko konbu.
Kohada - koh-hah-dah) – Japanese shad (or young punctatus, it’s Latin species name). Kohada is the name when marinated and used as sushi neta. Prior to this the fish is called Konoshiro (ko-no-shee-roh).
Kuro goma - koo-roh-goh-mah) – Black sesame seeds.
- Akami (ah-kah-me) - the leaner flesh from the sides of the fish. If you ask for 'maguro' at a restaurant you will get this cut.
- Chu toro (choo-toh-roh) - The belly area of the tuna along the side of the fish between the Akami and the Otoro. Often preferred because it is fatty but not as fatty as Otoro.
- O toro (oh-toh-roh) - The fattiest portion of the tuna, found on the underside of the fish.
- Toro (toh-roh) is the generic term for the fatty part of the tuna (either chutoro or otoro) versus the 'akami' portion of the cut.
Maki-zushi - mah-kee-zoo-shee) – The rice and seaweed rolls with fish and/or vegetables. Most maki places the nori on the outside, but some, like the California and rainbow rolls, place the rice on the outside.
Makisu - mah-kee-soo) – Mat made of bamboo strips to create make-zushi.
Masago - mah-sah-goh) – capelin (smelt) roe, very similar to tobiko but slightly more orange in colour, not as common as tobiko in North America (though often caught here). Capelin, shishamo, is also served grilled (after being lightly salted) whole with the roe in it as an appetizer.
Matoudai - mah-toh-dai) – John Dory.
Mirin - mee-rin) – Sweet rice wine for cooking.
Mirugai - mee-roo-ghai) – Geoduck or horseneck clam, slightly crunchy and sweet.
Miso - mee-soh) – Soy bean paste.
Moyashi - moh-yah-shee) – Bean sprouts.
Murasaki - moo-rah-sah-kee) – meaning “purple” an old “sushi term” for Shoyu.
Namako - nah-mah-koh) – Sea cucumber. This is much harder to find in North America than in Japan. As a variation, the pickled/cured entrails, konowata (koh-noh-wah-tah), can be found for the more adventurous diners. The liver, anago no kimo (ah-nah-goh noh kee-moh) is served standalone as well.
Nasu - nah-soo) – Eggplant. Also called Nasubi.
Natto - naht-toh) – Fermented soy beans. (Not just for breakfast anymore) Very strong smell and taste, also slimy. Most people don’t like it. Order it once, if for no other reason that to see the confused look of the chef.
Negi - neh-gee) – Green Onion. Scallion. Round onion is called Tama-negi.
Neta - neh-tah) – The piece of fish that is placed on top of the sushi rice for nigiri.
Nigiri-zushi - nee-ghee-ree-zoo-shee) - The little fingers of rice topped with wasabi and a filet of raw or cooked fish or shellfish. Generally the most common form of sushi you will see outside of Japan.
Nori - noh-ree) – Sheets of dried seaweed used in maki.
Ocha - oh-chah) – Tea.
Odori ebi - oh-doh-ree-eh-bee) - (‘Dancing shrimp’)- large prawns served still alive.
Ohyo - oh-hyoh) – Pacific halibut, sometimes incorrectly labeled "dohyo." Atlantic halibut is called Karasu Garei.
Ono - oh-noh) Wahoo. As much fun to catch as to eat, ono (Hawaiian for ‘delicious’) has a very white flesh with a delicate consistency, similar to a white hamachi (yellowtail).
Oshi-zushi - oh-shww-zoo-shee) – Sushi made from rice pressed in a box or mold.
Oshibako - oh-shee-bah-koh) - Used for pressing the sushi to make Oshi-zushi.
Oshibori - oh-shee-boh-ree) – The wet towel one cleans one’s hands with before the meal.
Oshinko - oh-shin-ko) - A general term for the many and varied pickled vegetables that are not uncommon at the table in Japanese dining, and often found at sushi-ya. They include, but are not limited to pickled burdock root, daikon, cabbage carrots, and many others.
Otoro - oh-toh-roh) – The fattiest portion of the tuna, found on the underside of the fish.
Ponzu - pohn-zoo) – Sauce made with soy sauce, dashi and Japanese citron, such as Yuzu or Sudachi.
Ramen - rah-mehn) – ‘Instant’ noodles, created by extrusion and often bought in packets for easy preparation. Chinese style noodles served in broth in a bowl. Traditional Japanese “fast food.” Instant ramen invented in the 1960s and now found worldwide. Today Cup-Ramen which is even easier to make is popular worldwide.
Roe - Fish eggs) Generally, flying fish, smelt, and salmon roe are available in all sushi restaurants. "Roe" is a generic name. The roes are:
Saba - sah-bah) - mackerel, almost always served after being salted and marinated for a period ranging from a couple of hours to a few days, so really cooked. In this form it is called Shime-Saba (shee-meh-sah-bah). Raw mackerel (nama-saba) is sometimes served but it must be extremely fresh as it goes off quickly.
Sake - sah-keh) – Rice wine. Pronounced ‘sah-keh’ not “sah-key.” Served both hot and cold depending on the brand type. Some people love it, some people hate it.
Sake - sah-keh) – Salmon. To avoid confusion, some people say Sha-ke.
Sansho - sahn-shoh) - Japanese pepper. A must with most Unagi dishes.
Sashimi - sah-shee-mee) – Raw fish fillets sans the sushi rice.
Sazae - sah-zah-eh) – Type of conch, not found in the US.
Shari - shah-ree) – Sushi Meshi (sushi rice). A sushi bar term.
Shiokara - shee-oh-kah-rah) – A dish made of the pickled and salted internal organs of various aquatic creatures. It comes in many form such as ‘Ika no Shiokara’ (squid shiokara), shrimp, or fish.
Shirako - shee-rah-koh) – The milt sac of the male codfish.
Shirataki - shee-rah-tah-kee) – Translucent rubbery noodles.
Shiro goma - shee-roh-goh-mah) – White sesame seeds.
Shiro maguro - shee-roh mah-goo-roh) – (‘White Tuna’) Sometimes called ‘Bincho Maguro’ or ‘Bin-Naga Maguro.’ This is often either Escolar or white albacore tuna. It doesn’t handle as well and can change color (though doesn’t change in taste or quality) so it is not as common as other tunas. It will usually not be on the menu, and if available, must be asked for (or listed as a ‘special’). It is not unusual to find Escolar (oilfish) labeled as shiro maguro, however in quantity, this particular fish can have a laxative effect on some people. Recently, Black Marlin is also being served as ‘white tuna.’
Shiro miso - shee-roh-mee-soh) – White soy bean paste.
Shiromi - shee-roh-mee) – This is the general term for any white fish, and if one asks for shiromi the itamae will serve whatever white fish may be in season at the time.
Shiso - shee-soh) – The leaf of the Perilla plant. Used frequently with in makizushi and with sashimi. The sushi term is actually Ooba (oh-bah).
Shitake - shee-tah-keh) – A type of Japanese mushroom, usually available dried.
Shoga - shoh-gah) – Ginger root. Usually grated.
Shoyu - shoh-yoo) – Japanese soy sauce.
Shumai - shoo-mai) (another type) is always steamed.
Soba - soh-bah) – Buckwheat noodles.
Somen - soh-mehn) – White, threadlike wheat noodles.
Spam - yes, SPAM!) – a sushi you can get in Hawaii (maybe Japan too), an acquired taste, perhaps.
Su - soo) – Rice vinegar.
Suimono - soo-ee-moh-noh) – Clear soup.
Surimi - soo-ree-mee) – Imitation crab meat (also called kamaboko (kah-mah-boh-koh)) usually made from pollack. Generally used in California rolls and other maki, it’s not the same thing as "soft shell crab." Although “surimi” is used outside of Japan, most Japanese people use the term Kani-Kama, short for Kani-Kamaboko.
Sushi - soo-shee)- Technically refers to the sweetened, seasoned rice. The fish is sashimi. Wrap the two together in portions and sell it as sushi, and the name still refers to the rice, not the fish. Sushi is the term for the special rice but it is modified, in Japanese, to zushi when coupled with modifiers that describe the different styles of this most popular dish. In Japan when one says “sushi” they are referring to the whole package, the sushi rice plus the neta. And this holds true for all kinds of sushi. When one wants to say “sushi rice” they say “sushi-meshi.” Also, in Japan when someone suggests going out for sushi, they are referring specifically to nigirizushi.
Suzuki - soo-zoo-kee) – sea bass (of one species or another, often quite different).
Tai - tah-ee) – porgy or red snapper (substitutes, though good), real, Japanese, tai is also sometimes available.
Tairagi - tah-ee-rah-gah-ee) - The razor shell clam.
Tako - tah-koh) – Octopus, cooked.
Tamago yaki - tah-mah-goh-yah-kee) – egg omelet, sweet and, hopefully light, a good test of a new sushi restaurant, if its overcooked and chewy, go somewhere else. In Japan it is the trademark of each chef. Often potential customers in Japan will ask for a taste of the Tamago in order to judge the chef’s proficiency.
Tarabagani - tah-rah-bah-gah-ni) – King Crab (the real thing, as opposed to kanikama, which is the fake crab leg made from surimi).
Tataki - tah-tah-kee) - Tataki is a Japanese term which may mean seared on the outside only (as in Katsuo) or chopped up and served in its raw form (as in Aji).
Temaki-zushi - the-mah-kee-zoo-shee) - Hand rolled cones of sushi rice, fish and vegetables wrapped in seaweed. Very similar to maki.
Tempura - tem-poo-rah) – Seafood or vegetables dipped in batter and deep fried.
Tobiko - toh-bee-koh) – flying-fish roe, red and crunchy, often served as part of maki-zushi but also as nigiri-zushi commonly with quail egg yolk (uzura no tamago) on top uncooked.
Tofu - toh-foo) – Soybean curd.
Tori - toh-ree) – Chicken.
Torigai - toh-ree-gah-ee) – Japanese cockle, black and white shell fish, better fresh but usually frozen (and chewier as a result).
Toro - toh-roh) – Fatty Tuna. There are several different types of tuna you can order in a sushi restaurant. It comes in many different grades which are from best to, well, not worst, o-toro, chu-toro, toro, and akami (which has no fat content).
Udon - oo-dohn) – Wide noodles made from wheat.
Unagi - oo-nah-gee) – Eel (Freshwater) – grilled, and brushed with a teriyaki-like sauce, richer than salt water eel.
Uni - oo-nee) – Sea Urchin. If you are lucky you won’t like it, if not you have just developed an expensive habit. The most expensive (start saving now) is red in color, the least is yellow, luckily they taste the same. Lobsters eat sea urchin as a mainstay of their diet.
Usukuchi shoyu - oo-soo-koo-chee-shoh-yoo) - Light Japanese soy sauce.
Wakame - wah-kah-meh) – Dried lobe-leaf seaweed in long, dark green strands.
Wasabi - wah-sah-bee) – Japanese ‘Horseradish.’ This is the small lump of green stuff that looks sort of like clay. Best done in extremely small doses. The actual rhizome is not related to American Horseradish except by name, but unfortunately, the ‘wasabi’ most often served is not real wasabi, but powdered and reconstituted American Horseradish with food coloring. Real wasabi is difficult to find in most restaurants, but is sometimes available upon request (and worth it, even with a surcharge, in my opinion). It is quite different in appearance (slightly more vegetal in color and obviously a ground up lump of rhizome, not powder) as well as taste. Real wasabi has a hotness that does not linger, and compliments and enhances the flavor of sushi rather well.
Yakumi - yah-koo-mee) – A generic term for condiments.
Sushi Otaku Blog
There are plenty of other resources on the web for information, some of my favorites are:
The Tokyo Food Page is a large repository of general information about sushi, restaurants, recipes, and Tokyo!
Products & Supplies:
Catalina Offshore Products offers sushi quality seafood over the internet to retail consumers now.
Like all kinds of popular food in Japan, sushi comes in a wide range of varieties that have continued to evolve. There is traditional-style sushi in which pristine slices of fresh raw fish and seafood atop vinegared warm rice. There is also sushi that is specific to the region.
Then you have the present-day sushi where they may be rooted in the Japanese tradition but have gone through some creative makeover or individual rendition by modern chefs. Outside of Japan, you’ll even find trendy western sushi that incorporates new presentations and ingredients like avocado that become popular all over the world.
Types of Popular Sushi Rolls
Most of these are uramaki — the kind where the rice is on the outside. Sushi rolls vary fairly significantly from one restaurant to the next, even though the names might be the same. You can always ask what is in a roll at a particular restaurant
Roll Name So What&aposs in It? Contains Raw Fish? You Should Order If . . .
Avocado, shrimp tempura, cucumber, tobiko (flying fish roe — fish eggs)
Usually not —ouble check to make sure
You like fried shrimp and avocado
Salmon, avocado, cream cheese
Spicy tuna, crispy seaweed, tempura
You like crispy, crunchy and raw tuna
Shrimp tempura, yellowtail, bean sprouts, carrots, avocado, cucumber, chili, spicy mayo
You like warm, creamy, and crunchy
Fish cake/imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, tuna, avocado, salmon, shrimp, yellowtail
You like different kinds of sashimi
Eel, crab, cucumber / avocado outside, eel sauce
You love eel — which is warm, buttery, and a little sweet
Crab or imitation crab, avocado, cucumber, sesame seeds
You don&apost like raw fish and like avocado
You like eel (cooked and warm) and avocado
Soft-shell crab tempura, cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo
You like crab and crunchy tempura
Cucumber, fresh carrot, scallion, avocado, asparagus, cream cheese
Shrimp tempura, avocado, tempura flakes, eel sauce
You like crunchy and fried shrimp
Cucumber, fish cake/imitation crab, beef, carrot, tuna, salmon, avocado
You like raw fish and cooked beef
One or more of the parts is deep-fried in a light batter
You like crunchy, fried foods.
Contents will differ, but it will have some kind of topping that makes it looks like the roll is exploding.
There are also vegetarian sushi ingredients that have the added bonus of being on the cheaper side. These include:
Condiments and Accompaniments
Sushi accompaniments such as wasabi and pickled ginger, or gari, are essential to bolster the great taste of sushi, but they also play an important role in making raw fish safe to eat and preventing food poisoning. These effects have only recently been scientifically explained, but they’ve been part of received sushi wisdom in Japan for centuries. Take a look at the key condiments and accompaniments to sushi below.
Sushi/Rice Vinegar: Sushi Protection
Has powerful sterilizing and anti-bacterial effects, making it an indispensible condiment for the safe consumption of sushi. Rice vinegar or Sushi vinegar (sushisu), is also used as tezu, literally ‘hand vinegar’, to moisten the hands when rolling sushi, keeping the hands clean and hygienic, and preventing the rice from sticking.
Wasabi: Making Raw Fish Safe
Contains allyl isothiocyanate, which prevents the germination of bacteria, helping to prolong the freshness of fish. The strong taste and smell of wasabi also stimulates the appetite and aids the digestion of food. Further, it is an effective deodoriser, neutralising raw fish odours and replacing them with a fresh smell.
Soy Sauce: Flavour, Aroma, Power
The delicious aroma of naturally brewed Japanese soy sauce whets the appetite, and its deep, complex flavour can be enjoyed in a huge variety of ways. On top of that, it helps sterilize against bacteria which can cause food poisoning. Soy sauce is used for dipping sushi and sashimi, and also as a marinade in certain preparations.
Gari: Deliciously Healthy
The strong sterilizing properties of ginger prevent food poisoning and boost the immune system. It is made by pickling finely cut ginger in sweet vinegar, and the distinctive pale pink colour is a natural result of this process. Gari also helps eradicate odours from fish and is a highly effective palate cleanser.
Green Tea: Full of Vitamins
The anti-bacterial power of catechin, contained in green tea, curbs the multiplication of bacteria. It freshens the mouth and removes fishy smells. In sushi restaurants, powdered green tea is often served, rather than leaf tea. The tea is drunk throughout, to keep the mouth cleansed after each course.
Bamboo Leaf: Used for Storing
Contains anti-bacterial salicylates which help prevent the deterioration of sushi toppings, and is often used in takeaway and boxed sushi. It also has a decorative function, and can be used either underneath the sushi or as partitioning. Many chefs can create quite stunning creations from these simple leaves.
5 Tips for Better DIY Sushi and Sashimi
O Ya's Tim Cushman offers guidance for sushi-curious home cooks.
Cushman stopped by the F&W Test Kitchen this week to make some amazing sashimi bowls. (Watch his whole demo here!) He also gave us some great ideas to make sushi at home easier:
1. Don&apost be ashamed to buy rice. Sushi rice can take a long time to master. If you have seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you know it can be taken very seriously. Cushman suggests simplifying the process by purchasing it cooked from your local sushi restaurant or Whole Foods.
2. Make friends with your fishmonger. It&aposs the best way to score the freshest sushi-grade fish. The better the relationship, the better the fish.
3. Use a terrifyingly sharp knife. If your knife is dull, you&aposll stand no chance of cutting cleanly. If you don&apost have a sharp knife on hand, you can ask the fishmonger to cut the fish before packing.
4. Know that rolling is optional. If you don&apost have a bamboo mat, or just aren&apost proficient in shaping rice for nigiri, don&apost abandon the whole enterprise. Put sashimi in a bowl with rice, and use sliced nori as a garnish.
5. Dress it up. Try Cushman&aposs Salmon Sushi with Ginger and Hot Sesame Oil with or without rice!
Wasabi (wah-sah-bee), often incorrectly called Japanese horseradish, is among the most misunderstood yet integral aspect of the sushi experience. What looks like a lump of green putty is a very complex, spicy yet sweet complement to your sushi meal. This sushi (and noodle) accompaniment provides a bounty of flavor, spiciness, and a dash of color to your dish while enhancing the subtle flavor of the fish.
So what is wasabi? Wasabi is a plant grown primarily in Japan with nascent horticulture now in the Pacific northwest of the US. The root (technically a rhizome) is ground and used in foods to add spiciness and flavor. It is a difficult plant to grow, requiring a rocky stream or riverbed and the proper mix of nutrients, and is therefore a somewhat rare commodity. Wasabi, traditionally reserved for sushi and noodles, is now being incorporated into a plethora of foods however, ‘wasabi’ flavored items are not always actually wasabi flavored.
When dining and served wasabi with your sushi, the wasabi you are served is not always what it seems. Due to a high demand and limited supply, what is often served with your sushi is a mix of American horseradish, mustard and coloring, which the Japanese call seiyō wasabi (“western wasabi”). This is because real wasabi can be hard to find or very expensive outside Japan (up to $100/lb). Wasabi is also sometimes powdered and reconstituted with water, and while this is sometimes served as well, the volatile compounds that make wasabi so unique are lost when the rhizome is powdered, so what you end up is an inferior product (which too is often mixed with American horseradish). If you would like to be sure what you have, you can ask your wait staff if what you are served is ‘real wasabi’ or ‘fresh wasabi’ and if not, if it is available. If you are served putty, more than likely it is not real. Real wasabi is grated (traditionally on a sharkskin grater called an oroshi) and looks as such. Fake wasabi is not and does not. Just ask your wait staff for ‘fresh wasabi’ and if they have the real thing, they will usually return with a dish with a grated pile of the real thing, which is a very different experience from fake wasabi. If you are buying wasabi in store, read the label to determine if you have real wasabi or something else.
Real wasabi has a fruity and vegetal fragrance, with a spiciness that does not linger and serves to enhance the flavor of the fish. It has a bouquet and sweetness that stimulates the palate with balanced heat. It does not hit with the intensity that fake wasabi does, and the spiciness quickly dissipates into the sweet vegetal flavor that is a perfect companion to sushi. The hotness of wasabi is experienced more in the sinus than the tongue and is often an acquired taste.
Traditionally, the itamae (sushi chef) will put the proper amount of wasabi on nigiri sushi that he deems the proper amount for that particular fish. More wasabi for more oily fish, and less for less oily fish. Tradition states that one never put wasabi directly into one’s dish of shoyu (all of this is covered in more detail in our “sushi etiquette” section), however these days, feel free to do what you want, there really are no rules. We put wasabi on everything and even it it by itself, it’s quite an experience!
Wasabi has shown in studies to be anti-microbial and possibly anti-carcinogenic, the former may be why it has long been eaten with raw fish, which in the past was not handled with the care it is today. It is also suggested that it may have anti-inflammatory and blood thinning properties, both useful to the medical community. It is even used in toothpaste in Japan for its anti-bacterial properties!
As you can plainly see, wasabi is a unique plant and more intriguing food. While a mystery to many, this sushi side item is actually very important to many sushi connoisseurs. If you have the opportunity to try the real thing you should be pleasantly surprised. This rare commodity is a spicy treat that is finally being given the praise it deserves as it spreads throughout the food community.
Once the shrimp is cooked place straight into ice cold water, this will preserve the texture and color of the shrimp.
Step 3 . Peel the shrimp and then cut about 1cm (2/5 inch) off where the head used to be, this cut is just for esthetic purposes.
Step 5 . Making the shrimp nigiri, with your right hand pick up some cooked sushi rice (about the size of a quails egg) and softly form it in to an oblong shape. Then with the left hand pick up the shrimp butterfly and add some wasabi with your right hands index finger, now add the rice pressing down with your thumb while supporting the sides of the rice, now flip over the rice and shrimp, firm up the edges and press in the rice ends with your thumb while supporting the nigiri, turn round and press in the other side and you should be done.
Step 6 . serve the shrimp nigiri on a plate with some soya sauce and pickled ginger.