A Dish i Like

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Millions of people worldwide are head over heels with sushi and will swallow it whenever given the chance. Sushi restaurants have been cropping up across the globe and have become some of successful businesses during the past two decades. Sushi is full of protein and will fill you up quickly without making you gain weight since it does not have an excess of calories. This is the main reason why some of dietitians suggest it as one of the most ideal and healthy options for dining out. Even wonderful is that there are so many different tastes and textures that it is almost impossible for someone not to find a taste that excites their palate. However, critics of this view argue that sushi is just a simple dish, but they forget that it is the traditional food of Japan, with hundred years of development and technique, to create a dish simple yet survives and well known to this modern day.

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When mention Japan, first thing comes to your mind is sushi, sushi is well known among countries around the world. But is it true that sushi actually from Japan? The history of sushi began around the 8th century in Japan. The original type of sushi was first developed in Southeast Asia and spread south China before being introduced to Japan sometime around the 8th century. Fish was salted and wrapped in fermented rice, a traditional lacto-fermented rice. The fermentation of the rice prevented the fish from spoiling. The fermented rice was discarded and fish was the only part consumed. Later on, the Japanese preferred to eat fish with rice. This new method of fish consuming was no longer a form of preservation but rather a new dish in Japanese cuisine. When Tokyo was still known as Edo in the early 19th century, mobile food stalls run by street vendors became popular. During this period nigiri sushi was introduced, consisting of an oblong mound of rice with a slice of fish draped over it. After the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, nigiri sushi chefs were displaced from Edo throughout Japan, popularizing the dish throughout the country. Today the sushi dish internationally known as ‘’sushi’’, and by sushi I mean nigiri sushi, is a fast food invented by Hanaya Yohei (1799-1858). People in Tokyo were living in haste even a hundred years ago. The nigiri sushi invented by Hanaya was not fermented and could be eaten using fingers or chopsticks. It was one of the early form of fast food that could be eaten in public places. After all, it is important to known where sushi comes from, either enhance your palate or enrich your knowledge, both are beneficial to you.

At a glance, sushi is just a simple dish, but to be able to preserve the umami of sushi takes serious preparation. First, rice is one of the component that complete a perfect sushi. To get the right texture, it takes more than just following a recipe of the right proportions of water and vinegar. Every factor that goes into the process needs to be precisely accounted for, from the seasonality of rice crops to the air pressure that day. ‘’You cook the new crop rice with a lot less water than older crops because the rice itself has more moisture in it’’, says Taichi Kitamura of Sushi Kappo Tamura (Seattle, WA). In addition, rice also need to be treated with care, inexperienced chefs will often over-mix the rice, which causes it to become too sticky, making for an overly compact bite of sushi. Also, each grain of rice needs to be preserved and not broken up. As chef Tyson Cole of Uchi (Austin, Dallas, Huston, TX) says ‘’Traditionally you use a wood spatula to mix the vinegar into the rice, but if you’re doing it wrong without finesse, you’re just tearing it up’’. Second, fish need to be sources properly, most top restaurants import fish from Japan’s biggest fish market (Tsukiji) and have personally vetted their suppliers. ‘’I usually find the strength of each supplier, so I use supplier A for my tuna, supplier B for the sea urchins, and so on’’, says chef Yoshihiko Kousaks of Kosaka (New York, NY). Final, knives need to be in the highest form of sharp. ‘’Master sushi chefs will always sharpen their knives every day before service’’, says chef Katsunori Kawaguchi of Mozen Bistro (Las Vegas, NV). This is crucial to ensure that cutting is a delicacy action and not one driven by power. ‘’If you use too much pressure while cutting the sushi it will affect the texture’’, says chef Kawaguchi. In general, in order to produce a perfect sushi that satisfy any palate, preparation is a first and an important part for every sushi chef to become a master of this form of cooking.

A side from a delicious dish, sushi also a culinary art in which the chef is the artist with humble, dedication, self discipline. For a sushi chef to be able to standing in front of cutting table, it takes years of practices, refining knives skills, serving skill to perfection. For an apprentice, first they would start with cleaning duty, a sushi chef must always keep everything nice and clean all the time in order for the customer to get the best out of sushi. For example, a hot towel will be a sushi chef’s best friend as they wiping hands to deflect bacterias while making. Next, they would start to prepping sea food, depending which type of fish that they get from market, there would be different cuts and teachniques for every type of fish. In a salmon there are different in levels of fatness, with a belly there will be more fat, moving up will be more lean. With octopus, chef has to give it a rub with salt to remove slime and for the meat to be softer, this process could take to an hour. In every restaurant, there will be different recipe of rice, salt, and rice vinegar, the apprentice has to follow strict instructions from the senior. Once the senior has seen the consistency of apprentice, they will be promoted to a position which is called wakiita, which translated to near the cutting board, from there they will learn from the senior. Eventually, the apprentice might began to prepare sushi for clients with take away orders. Also, they will learns the proper ways to interact with and treat the restaurant’s customers by observing the senior. In addition, a great chef has the following five attributes. First, they take their work very sincerely and regularly perform on the highest level. Second, they aspire to improve their skills. Third is cleanliness, the food is not going to taste good if the restaurant does not feel clean. The fourth attribute is impatience, they are better leader than collaboraters, they are stubborn and insist on having it their way. And finally, a great chef is passionated. This can all be found in Ono Jiro, a Japanese chef and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three Michellin starred Japanese sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan. He who has been regarded by his contemporaries and peers as the greatest sushi craftsman alive. There is a documented fim which named Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Mr. Ono’s standards are obsessively high that he wanted to shoot each handmade masterwork at the supreme moment of deliciousness. For a newbie just come to a sushi restaurant, sushi is just a simplistic dish but behind that takes many hours and years of practices trying to reach the highest level and keep improving your skill just as one of the best sushi craftman Jiro Ono said: ‘’I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I will continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is’’.

Sushi at first look is simple yet do not let it fool you, being simple is not easy, it is an art in which the chef is the artist and can make mouth watering little pieces of perfection in your palate. There will always be new techniques and new ways for food experiences. Before judgement, a simple dish can yield the power to make you feel good in every bite. A whole new sky of rich history and cultural can be found in this simple dish.   

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A Dish I Like. (2021, Jul 28). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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