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Preparing Sushi

Making Sense of Sushi


Learn sushi terminology and the rules of Japanese etiquette and find out how to enjoy sushi. Bon appétit!

Planning an informal get-together or an intimate supper? Think sushi! Requiring little or no cooking, sushi is perfect for most occasions. Various sushi platters can be ordered from participating Metro supermarkets. Check it out!

Japanese Jewels!

Exotic and sophisticated, sushi has eye-appeal as well as taste-appeal. There are hundreds of varieties of sushi, but they all use pretty much the same ingredients: salmon, shrimp, pollock, cucumber, daikon or Japanese radish, marinated seaweed, avocado, Japanese omelette, red or orange flying fish roe and tempura (fried batter).

Getting to Know Sushi

Although sushi is traditionally a simple dish, a whole lexicon has built up around it. The following list of commonly used terms and their definitions should prove helpful.

GariPickled ginger to cleanse the palate before and between bites.
MakiSliced rolls of vinegared rice wrapped in dried seaweed; may be made with various fish, crustaceans or vegetables.
NigiriSmall handmade rice balls with fish or seafood on top.
NoriSheets of seaweed used in making maki.
SakeFermented Japanese drink made from rice with 14% to 17% alcohol by volume.
SashimiPiece of raw fish or seafood served without rice. Generic term used for both maki and nigiri.
ShoyuSoya sauce.
SushiGeneric term used for both maki and nigiri.
WasabiJapanese horseradish, pungent accompaniment to sushi, often sold in a paste or powdered.

Honourable Guests, Please Observe Rules of Etiquette

Japanese culture is endlessly fascinating. Quite different from ours, it has its rules of etiquette, with a whole set on the proper way to eat sushi. Follow the rules below for a more authentic sushi experience.

  • Offer your guests small moist towels at the start and end of the meal. Roll them up tight and heat them in the microwave. Everyone can use them to clean their hands.
  • Never lay your chopsticks down on the table. Rest them on a chopstick holder or a folded napkin.
  • Don't worry if you slurp your soup, noodles or tea; it's perfectly alright. It shows that you appreciate the food and are letting it cool.
  • You should never serve yourself a drink. Wait for someone else to serve you.
  • When someone offers you sake, lift your glass to make filling it easier.

Enjoying Sushi Is an Art!

The first step is usually to mix a bit of wasabi with a little soya sauce, then dip the sushi in the mix using your chopsticks or fingers. That’s right! Eating sushi with your fingers is very proper. Some people, preferring to keep the flavours pure, put a dab of wasabi on their sashimi before dipping it in soya sauce.

Having a bite of pickled ginger between pieces is recommended because it cleanses the palate so that you can better appreciate the subtle flavours of the various sushi. Nothing goes better with sushi than a glass of sake, served warm or cold. Green tea, Japanese beer, dry white wine, champagne or another sparkling wine are also excellent choices with sushi.

When serving sushi as hors d’oeuvres, allow four to six pieces per person; as a main course, figure on eight to 10 pieces. Salad, soup and rice can round out the meal. To enjoy their full flavour, take sushi out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Cover them with plastic wrap to prevent the rice from drying out. Sushi should be eaten the day of purchase for maximum freshness, but will be good until the best before date on the package.