3 Common Misconceptions About Sushi
Sushi has spread from its native Japan to the rest of the world and has become a well loved and hip genre of food that many can't get enough of. Some reluctant eaters turn up their noses at the foreign flavors and raw ingredients, while others consider themselves connoisseurs of the Asian tradition. Yet, something about the food seems to have been lost in the translation from East to West and some things people believe is essential to good sushi isn't as crucial as you might think.
It's All About the Fish
"I don't really like fish." How many times have you heard someone use that as an excuse as to why they don't like sushi? True, if you don't like seafood then you are missing out on most of what the genre of food has to offer but there's still plenty to explore because it isn't really about the fish, it's about the rice.
The very word sushi actually refers to the vinegared rice that's ubiquitous in all rolls. A roll doesn't have to include fish or seaweed, although it often does. Chefs of the trade first learn to master rice before they move on to other ingredients and many restaurants offer items other than rolls like sashimi or plain raw fish however, those menu items are not the same.
Combine those ingredients and you can have something great but other delicious options are still out there. Sweetened egg with vinegared rice or a selection of tasty vegetables rolled up with vinegared rice are other forms of delectable rolls that are perfectly safe for those that can't stand that "fishy" taste.
So if you just can't stand sushi, that's fine but a better explanation would be, "I'm not a fan of rice." If you want to know more about the dish's independence from fish, check out this snopes article debunking the misconception.
It's Got To Be Raw
If you are going to have fish on your sushi then it has to be raw right? That's the most authentic, the most flavorful, the best. Isn't it? That may be your opinion but many chefs and lovers of the food genre might disagree.
Plenty of cooked seafood ingredients can be found at the hippest of sushi joints. While sashimi (raw fish) is delicious, cooked fish or eel is tasty too. Egg, shrimp, tuna or eel are all cooked ingredients that you'll find on a chef's specials list. Raw fish may be a delicacy but it isn't the end-all-be-all of good rolls, because after all it's all about good rice and not the other stuff. Not liking sashimi doesn't mean you can't appreciate a nice sushi roll.
Fresh is Best
So here's the thing about sushi, it was invented as a way to preserve fish. That's right preserve, as in save for later, as in not fresh. Even with the marvels of modern refrigeration technology the fish you're eating on or in your rolls today probably wasn't caught this morning.
So often I've heard people say they don't trust seafood restaurants in an inland area, that the fish they've had on the coast is the best. Because it's fresh. Even sushi restaurants brag about how their fish is flown in daily or locally caught to appease this perception that fresh is best.
But the truth is that your favorite fish has probably been frozen and is over a day old. The FDA requires that all fish be frozen before served raw to eliminate food born illnesses, so in America it's highly unlikely that your seafood was swimming around earlier that day. Tuna is the one exception to the law because it has very clean flesh but it's probably still a few days old before it gets to your plate.
The fresher seafood is, the more minimal its flavor. For optimal flavor chefs will often use slightly older fish. Some even pickle their ingredients so that their flavor will be even stronger.
So before you turn down a sushi bar in Kansas read some reviews. Their daily supply of flown in fish is likely the same age as the hottest sushi restaurant on the coast.