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Sushi 101: It’s more than raw fish

Opening the menu at an important business lunch to see “the s word” can be intimidating. You know we’re talking sushi, right? Depending on the person, sushi can spark thoughts of struggling to get raw fish into your mouth using two short sticks, or it can exude elegance and style. Whatever your previous experience, it’s time to rethink what you know about this Japanese cuisine. One key thing to note about sushi is that it’s not all raw fish—some dishes don’t even contain seafood at all! There’s a lot more than meets the eye, so we’re here to set the record straight.

First, there’s sashimi meaning “pierced body.” Some use sushi and sashimi interchangeably, however, they’re not the same. Sashimi simply refers to any fresh meat—from salmon to beef—sliced into thin pieces. The main distinction is that, unlikSashimie sushi, sashimi does not involve rice. Instead, the delicate meat is draped over a garnish. Although the meat is typically raw, some (such as octopus) can be completely cooked or partially seared. These meals may look foreign or displeasing, but don’t be turned off before you try what is considered the finest dish in Japanese cuisine.

Now on to something that may seem more familiar. Sushi refers to any dish that is made with vinegared rice. We all have an idea of what sushi is, but it’s time to expand our knowledge. There are several different kinds, so here’s a breakdown.

makiMakizushi (rolled sushi): Often referred to as maki on menus, this is typically what comes to mind when sushi is mentioned. Generally wrapped in seaweed or perilla leaves, makizushi contains raw or cooked fish, veggies and other fillings. Rolled up in rice, the carefully crafted rolls offer a balanced flavor.

salmon nigiriNigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi): Nigirizushi, or nigiri, displays a delicate slice of raw fish atop a hand-rolled ball of rice with wasabi for a spicy kick. Slicing is exact and precise for presentation, making this colorful dish a work of art.

Chirashizushi (scattered sushi): A unique and typically forgotten foChirashizushirm of sushi, chirashizushi is popular because of its simplicity and invitation to improvise or experiment. When thinking chirashizushi, think of a sushi salad. This dish involves ingredients such as veggies, eggs and tofu on top of rice in a bowl. Many popular recipes don’t involve meat and are easily customizable, so this is perfect for a picky eater.

InarizushiInarizushi: Inarizushi is a pouch of fried tofu filled with rice. Simplistic yet delicious, crunch into one for a snack or as part of a casual meal. Although popular in Japanese households, this sweet and salty treat isn’t typically found at high-end sushi restaurants.

Oshizushi (pressed sushi): Oshizushi contains layers of sushi rice, condiments and toppings formed into a box using a wooden mold (called an oshibako). Because of it’s box shape, this type of sushi is easy to take on the go.Sasazushi

Even with your new knowledge of this trendy food, you still may be feeling like a fish out of water. To learn more about sushi first-hand, try a sushi-rolling event!

 

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