Why is sushi eaten with sushi sauce (shoyu)?

Edo style sushi was created during the Edo period in Japan (1804-1830). The expansion of the soy sauce culture of the Edo area (currently Tokyo) had a big influence on the creation of Edo style sushi. In a time when refrigeration and other technology had not yet been developed, soy sauce played an important role not only in taste, but also in preservation. A surprising number of tasks in the Edo style utilize the scientific effects of soy sauce.

First of all, lightly applying just a small amount of Nikiri shoyu (sushi sauce) on the sushi topping, brings out its flavor and creates a glaze. To put it scientifically, this a clever use of the odor eliminating effects of soy sauce, eliminating the raw odor.

 

Also, long ago zuke (soaking in soy sauce) was also used for fish other than tuna. This was a way to utilize the bacteriostatic effects of soy sauce, which stop the growth of Escherichia coli (E. coli).

 

 

Tsume (sushi sauce) represents the thermal effects of soy sauce. By adding soy sauce, mirin and sugar then boiling down, the amino acids in the soy sauce and the sugar react and the goal is to create a delicious glaze and a nice scent that stimulates the appetite.

 

Adding a small amount of soy sauce when making rolled egg omelets has the effect of enhancing and bringing out the flavor and sweetness of the ingredients.

Soy sauce is generally overshadowed by the sushi topping and vinegar rice, but soy sauce plays an important role in bringing out and enhancing the delicious taste of the sushi.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: April 30, 2020

10 pieces of sushi we recommend for October

Bastard halibut (Hirame)

Young Japanese amberjack (Inada)

Swordtip squid (Kensaki ika)

Lean meat of tuna (Akami)

Medium Fatty Tuna (Chutoro)

Gizzard shad (Kohada)

Alaskan pink shrimp (Ama ebi)

Mackerel (Saba)

Pacific saury (Sanma)

Japanese conger (Anago)


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: October 1, 2017

A Guide to Avoiding Food Fraud!

It is true that in an age when aquatic resources are being depleted, there is a worldwide demand for a substitute for luxurious fish. However, although it’s not easy to tell fish apart once it’s sliced, that doesn’t mean that restaurants should not be held to certain standards. Here we present a number of severe cases.

First of all, Opah belly meat with some fat is used for the tuna in Negi-toro (tuna minced with Welsh onion leaves). Opah is widely distributed in warm seas and it’s known to be inexpensive with a smooth taste. The price is less than 1/100 of the Pacific bluefin tuna and if possible Negi-toro made from Opah should be avoided.

Next let’s discuss Japanese conger, an essential Edo-style sushi topping. A substitute for Japanese conger is the Common snake eel, which is a type of sea snake from Peru. The taste is pretty good, but the skin is rubbery and it doesn’t stick to the Shari (vinegar rice) so it’s instantly apparent that it’s a substitute fish. If you find Japanese conger at kaiten-zushi for JPY 100 per plate, you might want to question the source.

A premium sushi topping is the Mirugai clam (also called Hon-miru). This shellfish is characterized by its unique texture and taste. Instead the Japanese geoduck (Shiro-miru) is used, which sells for half the market price. However, the taste of the two is so similar that even Sushi Tsu has mistaken them, which is great news for dishonest dealers.

In April 2015 the Food Labeling Act was revised, leading to progressive reduction of fraudulent labels, but it is not a solution that eradicates dishonest dealers so consumers need to be educated and aware.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: September 21, 2017

10 pieces of sushi we recommend for September

Bastard halibut (Hirame)

Gold Tilefish (Amadai)

Lean meat of tuna (Akami)

Medium Fatty Tuna (Chutoro)

Gizzard shad (Kohada)

Benito (Katsuo)

Mackerel (Saba)

Greater Amberjack (Kanpachi)

Salmon roe (Ikura)

Red sea urchin (Aka uni)


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: September 1, 2017

Is Nigiri sushi made by a Master Really Transparent?!

Some of the shari drops off of the sushi placed in front of you by the chef saying, “Sorry to keep you waiting.” You may be served this kind of nigiri sushi at restaurants that have lines out the door. Of course sushi that falls apart before it even touches your lips is a failure.

Good nigiri sushi looks solid, but once you put it in your mouth the shari naturally loosens. Next the loosened rice absorbs the taste of the topping and it doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth. On the other hand, with shari of sushi that has been pressed too strongly, the taste of the topping is left in your mouth, getting in the way of new flavors.

In other words, the sushi looks hard on the outside, but it soft on the inside. This is the perfect recipe for sushi.

When first learning, chefs are only concerned with shape and press the pieces too firmly. Next they let up on the force a bit and once they find the perfect amount of pressure, they become a real sushi chef. A master sushi chef is one rank above that and makes sushi that light can pass through. The sushi must be pressed gently enough for light to pass through, but firmly enough so that the sushi holds its shape.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: August 28, 2017

  •  

What is tuna fattening?

Fish farming is to hatch fish from eggs or to raise from juvenile fish right after hatching. Imported fish farming tuna, which is out in the market now, is actually fish fattening tuna that is raised bigger by feeding to full-grown fish. Fish fattening is to catch tuna by fixed net fishing method when they are skinny after egg-laying, and to fatten by feeding wild fish such as sardine and mackerel for three months.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: September 26, 2017

  •  

10 pieces of sushi we recommend for August

Bartail flathead (Kochi)

Spotted halibut (Hoshigari)

Striped jack (Shima aji)

Shin-ika Golden cuttlefish (Shin ika)

Southern Bluefin tuna (Minamimaguro)

Gizzard shad (Kohada)

Kuruma prawn (Kuruma ebi)

Horse mackerel (Aji)

Disk Abalone (Awabi)

Northern sea urchin (Kitamurasaki uni)


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: August 31, 2017


 

Once you try Kuruma ebi sushi, you’ll never want any other shrimp.

Cultured shrimp like Black tiger is imported to Japan from India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other places and it used in a lot of nigiri sushi. The shrimp used in sushi rolls is generally the giant tiger prawn. It is used because the price is cheap and it becomes a beautiful vermilion color when boiled. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the sweet taste normally associated with shrimp.

On the other hand, the Kuruma prawn (kuruma ebi) that is offered at Edo-style sushi restaurants has a rich aroma and sweetness than spreads over your tongue. It is also becoming more popular to boil it just before serving it to the customers. By doing this, the warmth enhances the sweetness of the shrimp.

The old Edo-style sushi restaurants will also ferment the shrimp in eggs scrambled with sweet vinegar (yolk soaked in vinegar) for several days. When the Kuruma prawn is soaked in the egg, its umami is enhanced and its pleasant acidity is delicious.

By the way, when you boil the shrimp, it normally bends towards the belly. Crooked shrimp cannot be used for sushi, so a few cuts are made in the ventral to stop it from bending and it is cut along the muscles or from head to tail and skewered before boiling. You still have to be careful it doesn’t bend when you peel off the shell. Therefore, even just the way a Kuruma prawn is boiled demonstrates the skill of a sushi chef.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: August 7, 2017

  •  

Why is Zuke used for lean meat?

Zuke is one of the traditional Edo-style sushi methods. It is said that it was started in the Edo period to stop tuna from rotting when there were large amounts of the fish in the market. Now that there has been advances in refrigeration technology, it’s no longer necessary, but maturing the fish gives it a completely different taste and brings out its umami. Zuke is divided into two broad methods. Here we describe the characteristics of each.

Recently, most sushi restaurants incorporate the “Single Zuke”.

Each slice of tuna is soaked separately, so it can mature quickly. The immersion time is only a few minutes. The idea is to marinate just enough so that the tuna’s aroma remains and the soy sauce doesn’t overtake it.

On the other hand, the old Edo-style method is to perform Zuke after parboiling.

Parboiling means to wrap the fish in a wet cloth, and poor boiling water on the wrapping until the color of the tuna changes color, then turn the fish over and repeat the process. The fish is then put in ice water so the heat doesn’t go too deep in the meat. It is immediately removed once it cools so that it doesn’t get too watery. The tuna is then put in Zuke soy sauce and left to marinate for about half a day. In this method, the soy sauce only soaks into the surface part where the color changed from the parboiling, so the flavor of the tuna remains.

Both methods keep the maximum tuna flavor possible. Tuna is an essential part of Edo-style sushi. There is great diversity between sushi restaurants in the parts, marinating time and flavor of Zuke, which creates a new, original flavor when the lean meat of the tuna soaks up the soy sauce. The fattiest cuts of tuna are most popular. The lean meat has only become more popular due to a rekindled interest in zuke, but in fact during the peak of the bubble economy, there was a time when high-end restaurants in Ginza didn’t know what to do with all their leftover lean tuna meat. It’s almost unbelievable to think of it now.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: August 1, 2017

What are “ikejime” and “nojime”?

How the fish is butchered also changes the taste. If the fish suffers and struggles, the body wears and may be damaged, circulating oxidized blood throughout the body, which makes it lose flavor. For fish of high value such as sea bream, flounder, yellowtail, rudderfish and tuna, a method called “ikejime” is used.

The taste of tuna is said to be determined based on the preparations after being caught. The tuna is caught with as little suffering as possible and the nerves are killed immediately for an instant death. Generally, blood is then drained perfectly, entrails and gills are removed, the tail cut off and then the fish is placed in ice-water to lower the body temperature.

The medulla oblongata and main artery of the fish are cut and a kitchen knife is inserted into the base of the tail to drain the blood. A thin metal rod is inserted into the backbone to paralyze the nerves and at the same time controls the putrefied materials that come out of the spinal cord.

This extends the time until rigor mortis sets in, making it easier to maintain freshness and simultaneously preventing blood from circulating in the body, which also prevents the fishy smell.

Freezing the fish to death in ice water is called “nojime”. This method is generally used for small fish such as sardines, horse mackerel and mackerel that are fished in large volume.

 

 

At fish markets, the term “kill” is not used for living fish, instead the word “shimeru” meaning to close or tighten. The term “dead fish” is also not used. Instead the term “nojime” is used for fish that died naturally en route to the market. This stems from the awe of precious life and turning that life into food.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: March 27, 2018

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.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: June 6, 2017

Judge a chef’s ability and quality of the shop by its Anago

Sushi restaurants that advertise “Edo style” on the sign somewhat fear customers who order Anago (conger eel) right off the bat. If the customer then eats as if they are really taking the time to taste the sushi, then any chef not fully confident in their skills will want to hide under the sushi counter.

Anago is a topping that really demonstrate a chef’s skills (or lack thereof).

Edo-style sushi chefs work on many toppings. Anago is a perfect example of these toppings. It is actually first steamed to remove the fat. However, it’s a difficult balance to remove the fat while still leaving the umami. The steamed Anago is then boiled and flavored. Since the fish is plain, the flavoring is also a subtle skill and not an easy task.

Depending on the shop, the chef may make the sushi with the boiled fish, use Nitsume (boiling down) to bring out the flavor or lightly roast the fish before combining it with the rice. The chef’s ideas and abilities are apparent in the final dish. If the sushi is made from the freshly boiled fish, it should be soft and melt in your mouth…if the chef knows what they are doing! Lightly roasted Anago will have an aroma that fills your entire mouth.

The work this topping takes to serve is a chance for sushi shops to show off their specialties, but it is also a clear indicator of the quality of the shop. The level of the chef and quality of the sushi shop will be revealed as soon as you place Anago in your mouth.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: May 27, 2017

  •  

Kohada (Gizzard shad) flavor is refined by exquisite salt seasoning!

According to most sushi masters, salt is the defining factor in the taste of gizzard shad (kohada).

Before seasoning gizzard shad with vinegar, the process starts with salting the spread open shad. It is the length the fish is salted that makes or breaks the fish. The reason for salting the gizzard shad is not just for flavoring, but also to draw out the umami of the fish. Salting for too long results in a briny taste; too short and the umami won’t come to the fore. The timing must be perfect in order to achieve that emotional “umami” moment.

This timing can be compared to boiling eggs: 3 minutes gets you soft-boiled eggs but five minutes gets you hard-boiled eggs. With eggs you can follow this rule of thumb, but no such rule exists for the spotted shad. The conditions for the salting time differ depending on the temperature, humidity, size of the fish and the degree of fat.

For example, a more slender fish in the middle of summer may be salted for 30 minutes, but a fatty fish in the winter needs to be salted for four hours. Just a few minutes longer or shorter than the perfect salting time completely changes the taste of the final dish.

Skilled chefs adjust the time on a daily basis according to the weather and the quality of the fish. Shops that can provide precisely the same spotted shad taste every day of the year are truly the best of the best.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: May 29, 2017

How to make sushi rice (vinegared rice) by a sushi master?

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

In order to bring sushi to life, it is extremely important how sushi rice (shari or vinegared rice) 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 sushi rice 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


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: April 29, 2020

Salmon is not used as a topping in Edo-style sushi!

 

The Japanese were not in the habit of eating salmon raw. Salmon was not a traditional topping in Edo-style sushi. The reason for this is that the existence of parasites has been well-known since long ago and there was no way to prepare the salmon raw.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, salmon must be frozen at -20℃ for at least 24 hours in order to completely kill all parasites. Salmon served at sushi restaurants must be stored frozen and then thawed before serving.

The type of salmon (sake) you find in Japan is Chum salmon. However, most of the salmon served raw at sushi restaurants is Atlantic salmon. This is a popular topping throughout the world due to the high fat content and smooth texture achieved by sea farming in places like Norway and Chile. The fish are strictly managed from water quality to the effects on the environment, so there are very few issues with parasites and the salmon can be eaten raw. However the fact remains that the fish are administered a number of chemicals due to concern of spread of disease-causing germs in the farms.

Even when salmon roe and sea urchin first started to be used as toppings, most sushi chefs said that these didn’t count as Nigirizushi and refused to use them. However the favorable reputation of sea urchin sushi in Ginza won out, it started to be used by more chefs and eventually became one of the major dishes.

The fifth generation sushi chef at one long-standing shop says, “If it’s what the customers want, then salmon may also be rolled as Nigirizushi in the near future.” It may even become part of the standard menu.

At a pre-Edo sushi shop that features Hokkaido toppings, they are actually serving ultra-high grade salmon such as Keiji* and Tokishirazu**.

*Keiji are young salmon with immature ovaries or testes. Only 1-2 Keiji are found in a normal catch of 10,000 salmon. Normal salmon fat content is 2-15% but the Keiji have a very high body fat percentage at 20-30%.

**Tokishirazu are salmon swimming upstream at the beginning of summer. They are the same chum salmon found in the fall, but since they aren’t caught during the spawning season, the fish don’t have eggs or milt, and instead have a high fat content. The name “Tokishirazu” stems from the fact that these fish are caught out of season, in summer and the name means ”ignorant of time”


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: May 9, 2017