Sushi Ritual

A Concise selection of sashimi, which will soon turn into sushi as soon as I get my hands on some rice. You will see this selection  (in variation of course, there are other pieces but for now I like to keep it curt) commonly served in sushi restaurants scattering Tsukiji markets in japan. At these kinds of places, you will be looked at a certain way if you roll in looking for a Crispy Spicy Tuna roll.

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There are a few pieces missing here but you’ll see them later… Important pieces like Squid, Octopus, Uni, Shrimp, Ikura…Some other favorite pieces of mine that are not included here..Toro and Clam. But I can fully appreciate sushi rolls like fried shrimp and spicy tuna rolls too.

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The white meat is squid. There are score marks usually placed in vertical succession at the top.

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Sea urchin…

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Salmon eggs, or Ikura. Just another one of my absolute favorites.

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Pickled Vegetables and ginger.

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There are two ways to serve sushi… one with pieces of fish sliced over little nuggets of rice, or this way, below. Jirashi is what they call it. This is quite crude in presentation but I think it’s effective. Rice is laid out on the bottom, and jewels from the sea decorate the top. You can also include cucumber and shiso leaf, in fact more shiso leaf the better. Sea Urchin, salmon eggs, octopus, chopped squid, fluke, all served in this small wooden box. Just get some chopsticks and you can lounge in front of the T.V…Nowadays I’ve switched to watching movies on my iPhone! I love it…

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Alternatively, if you want, you can also add slices of Nori and wrap them around these bites. This is nice because the rice doesn’t make the Nori soggy…

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Sushi the other way. You can see below each piece is placed in a certain order, like a procession. This is done on purpose. You notice from the right to left, you go from the most bland tasting fish, to the most intense pieces. No need to question because it makes perfect sense. If you ate Ikura (salmon eggs) before eating fluke, you would have a hard time tasting the fluke. From the fluke (most bland tasting) squid, then to octopus, shrimp, uni and salmon eggs…Uni and salmon eggs tend to me the most potent flavors here. And if you love Ikura you’ll know that it has a really strange stench but this is the entire point. The last one is the egg custard, a very difficult piece to prepare for many sushi chefs. It is kind of the like the finishing touch or the dessert component of sashimi. In Tokyo, you can judge the sashimi restaurant just by how well their egg custards are branded and cooked. The best restaurants will have their own stamps and logos seared into the eggs, completely customized with the restaurant name or even initials of the sushi chef. Lucky for me I can buy these egg custards at specialty stores. I also got these branding stamps in Japan but I can’t read the letters. Doesn’t matter, just for feeling. I think these mean Peace or Luck…or good fortune.

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Another important fact about rice. Rice is one of those really precarious variables when it comes to sushi making. If you’re a seasoned pro you’ll know that rice needs to be just clumpy and sticky enough to hold together and stay in one piece, but NOT too sticky that when it pops into your mouth you have to chew too hard. Once it gets into your mouth this rice glob needs to break apart right away. So it’s all about that fine balance. What makes this situation more precarious is that there is a rule to HOW many kernels of rice you have in each nugget. I don’t know what the number is, but yes there is a number, each time a sushi chef picks of a handful of rice for sashimi, it should be the same. Imagine how many handfuls you have to feel in your hand to know every time that it’s the right number.  Also I have not watched that documentary about that sushi chef in the subway yet….But the whole irony with sushi making and anything else in life is that the more you know, the more you don’t know.  I bet that’s what the documentary is really about anyway.

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Last but not least, the egg custards. Branding is a ritual of course.

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I know, you wonder why there is no rice with this egg custard. There isn’t supposed to be.

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Sushi and Sashimi, just one of my favorite things to eat.