Why do some sushi toppings have ginger instead of wasabi?

Ginger is used for toppings with a strong, distinct taste and strong fishy smell such as bonito, horse mackerel and sardines.

Wasabi has a spicy taste and stimulates the senses of taste and smell and works to dull the senses so the fishy smell is not felt, but ginger is effective in actually extinguishing the fishy smell.


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Revision date: December 11, 2017

Why is sushi served with Gari?

Gari is pickled ginger.

This ginger includes Zingerone, a pungent component, and Gingerol, a spice component that changes to Shogaol when heated. Zingerone and Shogaol combine with the components that cause the fishy smell of fish and can eliminate that smell from its source. It makes sense to use ginger as a condiment for fish known for a stronger smell, like horse mackerel and bonito. The Gari served with sushi utilizes the effects of these components effectively for enjoyment of the delicious taste of the sushi.

On the other hand, wasabi works by numbing senses of taste and smell with a stimulating spice so that the consumer doesn’t experience the fishy smell.

Furthermore, when you try to eat a light sushi topping after a strong one, a bit of Gari will cleanse your palette so you can fully enjoy the lighter fish. The pungent component also accelerates saliva production, assists with digestion and enhances absorption.


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Revision date: June 26, 2017

Best supporting role for wasabi that magnifies the umami in sushi many times over

Back before there were refrigerators, wasabi was indispensable for Nigirizushi, eliminating the fishy smell and also providing bactericidal effects to prevent the fish from spoiling. Wasabi is originally from Japan and it has been used in Edo-style sushi from the very beginning. Even with all the advancements in technology for storing sushi toppings, wasabi is still used today to remove the fishy smell and prevent spoiling. However, nowadays the flavor and aroma of wasabi and the way it brings out the flavor of the sushi topping is the main focus.

When wasabi is grated and exposed to the air, its unique heat is made enhanced by enzymes. Using a coarse grater gives the wasabi a rough, fibrous texture that spreads the spicy flavor through to the back of the throat. On the other hand, if Sharkskin wasabi is grated finely, it foams up with tiny bubbles and makes a creamy taste. The type of wasabi depends on the personality of the shop.

However, the powdered wasabi and wasabi paste you find at kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) is primarily made from horseradish and is colored and scented with additives. It isn’t dried wasabi and it is significantly cheaper.


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Revision date: June 6, 2017

How do you order at a sushi restaurant?

The sushi restaurant is unusual in that the customer sitting at the counter can see the seafood (neta) from which individual servings will be made, and can watch the chef deftly perform his art while enjoying lively conversation. Sushi restaurants also differ from other restaurants when it comes to menus.

Typically there aren’t any.

If the customer is inclined to worry about what the bill will come to, he orders Okimari (combination set)*. This consists of 7 to 10 pieces of nigiri-sushi and nori-maki selected by the proprietor in such a way as to allow them to offer an affordable price. It is cheaper because, like ready-made clothes, Okimari is not necessarily made piece by piece to fill individual orders. Of course, it will not be of inferior quality. Okimari is prepared by the chef and his assistants in the same way that everything else the shop is prepared. If the diner still wants more, they are always free to order sushi of their choice (Okonomi). Generally Japanese customers eat no more than 10 pieces of nigiri-sushi.

People at the counter most often order Okonomi (a la carte)**, which may be likened to having suits tailor-made from the finest fabrics. The customer who orders only the best will find that the check at the end can get a little expensive. But this is worth remembering (sushi worth eating is never inexpensive).

Long ago people used to say that first ordering Okimari and then ordering Okonomi after was the best deal for eating sushi, but that is a thing of the past. Actually, there are more and more shops that don’t allow Okonomi orders. The only choice is Omakase***. In some cases, all customers sitting at the counter take their seats at the same time and eat the same dishes and the same sushi in the same order. Even if you know nothing about sushi toppings, if you leave it to a master sushi chef, they will provide you with a combination boasting a good balance of early, peak and late season sushi. Omakase is great as it allows you to concentrate on genuinely enjoying the sushi and, especially if you’re visiting a shop for the first time, there will be no confusion regarding the best dishes.

*Okimari-The price and menu content are easily understood when ordering “Okimari”. The rank of “Tokujou”, “Jou”, “Nami” are often used. Order additional sushi as you like for a more fulfilling experience.

**Okonomi-A way customers choose and order sushi they want to eat. If you clearly know what you like and want to enjoy eating at your own pace, ordering “Okonomi” your choice of sushi, would be best.

***Omakase-If you don’t have any preferences, and you are happy to have a professional choose the most delicious toppings from that day’s catch, then ask for Omakase.


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Revision date: December 3, 2018

The real way of making shari (vinegared rice) by a sushi master. There are 4 tips!

In order to bring sushi to life, it is extremely important how shari is made. Let me introduce a cooking method, a top grade sushi master uses.

First, wash the rice gently. Leave it to soak for about half an hour and let it fully absorb water. The first tip is to keep the water level of the rice even in this way.

The rice should be cooked with water with a ratio of 10 to 9. A little less water than the regular rice, so that it is cooked slightly hard. This is the second tip.

While you wait for the rice to cook, make awasezu* by adding salt and sugar in vinegar. Also, set up hangiri (rice-cooling tub) for mixing the rice. Don’t forget to wipe the inside with a wet kitchen towel to prevent the rice from sticking to it.

Once the rice has finished cooking, leave it to steam for about 15 minutes and dump it out into hangiri. Pour awasezu immediately and let it sit for 30 seconds or so. Because the rice absorbs vinegar only while it is hot, managing this process quickly is the third tip.

After letting it sit for 30 seconds, spread the rice out with shamoji (rice spatula) as if cutting it down. Make sure that vinegar goes around using a cutting motion vertically. Additionally, fan the rice using a uchiwa (fan) to remove the moisture of vinegar and mix the rice with a cutting motion horizontally this time. Fanning with uchiwa is not to cool down the rice (Do not put the rice in the fridge to cool it down.), but to dry up the excess moisture of vinegar. Moving both hands as you consider it is the fourth tip.

After the rice is vinegared evenly, assemble it in one place and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. In about an hour, it is ready when shari is settled. (Body temperature) Even in a hurry, if you don’t give at least 30 minutes, it won’t help the taste of course, and also won’t make it easy to form the rice for sushi. If you rush at the end, all the delicate attention up to this will be in vain.

*A professional recipe for awasezu is as follows. This is a recipe for short grain rice species such as Koshihikari and Sasanishiki. Slightly sticky rice like calrose is not suitable for sushi rice.

9 cups rice

8 cups plus 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp water

8 tbsp plus 1 tsp vinegar ~ 12 tbsp vinegar

2 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar ~ 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar


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Revision date: May 18, 2017

The A to Z of Sushi Glossary

Among Sushi Glossary (sushi terms), there is a word called “Fucho” which is unfamiliar even to Japanese. It would be cool if you knew, but it wouldn’t be embarrassing even if you didn’t. However, these terms are used between pros. It seems senseless if customers use them and sushi chefs might find it off-putting. *Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi glossary page.

Aburi-To bring out the deliciousness by searing the skin and melting the fat. Used on a type of fish with fat between its skin and meat.

Agari-A Japanese sushibar term for green tea. A term for green tea at a Japanese sushi bar, which helps freshen the mouth by washing away any fatty taste.

Akazu-Red vinegar made from sake lees, characterized by a strong flavor, slight sweetness and its reddish color.

Akami-Lean tuna, cut from the back of the fish. See also Maguro.

Aniki-Things that are older. Food ingredients that need to be used earlier. The opposite of this word is “Otouto”.

Astaxanthin-A red-colored component found in organisms such as salmon, shrimp, and crab. It has been drawing an attention for having an excellent anti oxidative effect and oxidation prevention.

BachimonoWasabi (Japanese horseradish) other than the ones from Izu Amagi, which is called “Honbamono“.

Donshari-Regular rice that is not vinegared.

Dress-Fish, whose head and internal organs have been removed.

Edomae-Edomae means sushi using fish from the sea that lies before the Edo town. Although the fishes caught only in Tokyo Bay are not enough to feed numerous sushi lovers. The excellent work of Edomae sushi chef in which the ingredients are vinegared or seasoned with soy sauce after salted, a common method for longer preservation.

Furijio-To sprinkle salt lightly all over an ingredient. Causing an effect of making it salted, extracting moisture, and tightening its texture.

Gari-A sushi-bar term for pickled ginger. Pickled ginger that helps cleanse the palate after eating fatty sushi like Ohtoro.

Geso-Squid legs.

Geta-Wooden sushi plate

Gezakana -Relatively low-cost sushi ingredients, such as gizzard shad and horse mackerel. Bluefin tuna used to be also called gezakana in the Edo period, for losing its freshness easily.

Gunkanmaki-Sushi made by wrapping dried seaweed around vinegared rice, topped with salmon roe and sea urchin which is easy to crumble on top.

Gyoku-Egg omelet

Haneru-To throw away a part of something or the whole thing that cannot be used for ingredients.

Haran (Baran)-Plant leaves used as dividers and decorations when sushi is served. Mostly bamboo leaves in the Kanto region.

Hashiri-Referring to when fish have just started to come on the market and they are highly sought after even though they are still not mature in flavor

Hikarimono– Fish sliced for serving with the silver fish skin left on. Typical of Iwashi, Aji, Sayori, Sanma, Kohada

Himo-Mantle of shell

Ikejime-A process of cutting the medulla oblongata off of live fish, removing the nerves and draining the blood.

Inrouzume-A small boiled squid stuffed with sushi rice, Kanpyou, chopped Shiitake mushrooms, Oboro, and etc.

Irizake-A traditional Japanese seasoning made by boiling down Japanese sake with pickled plums etc.

Jukusei-Maturing. By preserving fish in refrigerator with adequate water content and temperature, the umami taste will be condensed. The maturing period is usually a couple of days, sometimes it lasts for weeks.

Kan – A unit for counting sushi

Katamiduke-Using one side of a fish’s body to make sushi.

Kataomoi-One-sided love:Abalone, for having a shell on only one side of its body.

Kazari boucho-Small cuts onto the ingredients in order to make it look beautiful.

Kakushi boucho-Make slits onto the firm ingredients in order to make it easier to bite.

Kiritsuke-To cut fish for sushi topping shapes after slicing into three fillets and taking off skin, bones and such.

Kizu-Dried gourd shavings (Kanpyomaki)

Kobujime-The fish ingredients marinated between sheets of kelp and then let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Konawasabi-Powdered horseradish (a.k.a. wasabi daikon), which is reasonable but has a weak flavor.

Kusa (Nori)-Purple layer seaweed pressed into thin sheets. It is essential for sushi roll and Gunkanmaki. High-quality one is flavorful, shiny, and has a smooth texture.

Makiosame-To eat norimaki at the end of a course of nigiri sushi. This action indicates that “this sushi is going to be the last one to eat.”

Maruduke-Making sushi with one whole fish.

Meji-Young bluefin tuna (Maguro) which weighs about 10 to 20kg.

Mugiwaradai-Red seabream (Tai) caught during the time of the barley harvest (early summer) is skinny after laying eggs and doesn’t taste good.

Murasaki-Sushi bar term for soy sauce.

Nakaochi-The middle bone part when fish is cut into three fillets. Or the meat attached to this part. Used especially for tuna, becoming ingredients for tekkamaki, negi toro and etc.

Namida (Sabi)Wasabi has a pungent taste which removes fishy smell from the ingredient, thus the fish becomes tastier many times as much.

Namida maki-Vinegared rice and thin strips of Wasabi rolled in seaweed

Nagori-Fish have already passed their peak condition, which the Japanese start to miss in the late season

Neta (Tane, Sushidane)-Sushi bar term for the fish topping in nigiri sushi.

Nigemono-Low-cost sushi ingredients.

Nikiri (NikiriShouyu)Nikiri is a short form of nikiri syouyu in which an alcohol-evaporated Mirin, Sake, Soy sauce and Dashi broth are added together.

Nimono-Simmered or boiled foods

Oaiso-To get a check and make a payment by customers at a sushi restaurant and elsewhere.

Obitsuke(Noriobi)-To bind toppings to sushi rice, such as white fish and egg, with seaweed like a belt (obi) for a kimono.

Oboro-Usually, salt, sugar and Mirin are added to mashed shrimp meat, and then roasted in a pan until they are smaller flakes.

Odori-Serving sushi made with live seafood such as prawns.

Okimari-The price and menu content are easily understood when ordering “Okimari”. The rank of “Tokujou”, “Jou”, “Nami” are often used. Order additional sushi as you like for a more fulfilling experience.

Okonomi-A way customers choose and order sushi they want to eat. If you clearly know what you like and want to enjoy eating at your own pace, ordering “Okonomi” your choice of sushi, would be best.

Omakase-A way customers choose and order sushi they want to eat. If  you do not have likes or dislikes and would like to enjoy the delicious catch of the day, “Omakase” is the way to go.

Otachi-To have a seat at the counter and eat by ordering okonomi.

Otemoto-Chopsticks

Oteshou-A small dish for soy sauce

Otouto-Food ingredients that are used later.

SagariOboro

SakariSakari season is before the fish spawn and they feed actively, acquiring a high fat content

Sakuradai-While cherry blossoms are in bloom, Red seabream (Tai) comes into season and increases its deliciousness.

Sakudori-To fillet fish and cut into blocks (saku) in each part. (Toro, red flesh and etc. in tuna, for instance.)

Shari (Sumeshi)-Cooked rice mixed with sweet sushi-vinegar in which sugar and salt are added. In sushi term it is called “Shari”.

Shirozu (Komezu)-White vinegar made from rice, characterized by smooth and refreshing sour taste.

Sotoko-Eggs of shrimps and crabs, folded and protected in their parents’ legs after being laid.

Shigoto-Refer to carrying out an extra preparatory step for edomaezushi toppings, such as brushing with Nitsume, or steeping fish in vinegar.

Tatejio-Salt water which is around 3 percent salt about the same as seawater, usually used for preparing thin body fish and seafood before cooking. Soak fish in tate jio and make it salted evenly because sprinkling salt can make it too salty for thin body fish by furi jio.

Teppou-Vinegared rice rolled in a sheet of laver (Norimaki)

Tezu-Vinegar that is put on fingertips of sushi chefs when they make sushi, to prevent sushi rice from sticking to their fingers.

Tsume (Nitsume)-Short form of Nitsume. Soy sauce, Mirin and sake are added to the soup in which Anago eel was boiled, and then boiled down until it gets thick sweet.

Tukeba-An area where sushi is made.

TumaDaikon radish which is thinly peeled and shredded.

Uramaki-A rolling technic of putting sushi rice on the outside, and seaweed on the inside.

Uchiko-Eggs inside of shells before being laid, such as shrimps and crabs.

Yakishimozukuri-A cooking method of grilling fish fillet with a little bit of skin left, over high heat for a short time and cooling it down. Its purpose is transferring the roasted skin fat into the meat. Used mainly for fish with thick and hard skin, like Mackerel (Saba) and Chicken grunt (Isaki).

Yama-Bamboo leaves used for a decoration. Called yama (mountain) because they are gathered only on mountains.

Yuburi-A process to cook just on the surface such as meat and fish,which is dipped in boiling water and shaken quickly.

Zuke –Seasoning method of fish such as Maguro tuna in dashi joyu, which was developed in the late Edo period in order to preserve fish longer.

We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: April 30, 2018