Elements of Good Sushi

United States
April 9, 2007 11:54pm CST
Sushi can come in many shapes and forms. Contrary to popular belief, sushi is not raw fish. A more clear definition is "rice cake." It can come in the form of nigiri sushi (what people think of, the finger food variety), maki sushi (roll sushi), inari sushi (commonly referred to as football sushi in the United States, if you can find a restaurant that serves it), American variations, such as the California roll or the Philadelphia roll, or custom made restuarant specific rolls, like XYZ restaurant special roll. Raw fish is a comon content of sushi, but it is not a reuirement. But what makes sushi taste good? For me, it's three elements. 1. The content. There are certain content I don't like, like eel, sea urchin, even maguro (fatty tuna - thank goodness for that since it is one of the priciest options). There are contents that are hard to go wrong with, such as ebi (cooked shrimp). The quality of the content is similar from bar to bar, but if you ever get the opportunity to have freshly caught tuna, that will make good sushi great, but it won't make horrible sushi acceptable (better just to eat the fish and leave the rice aside). I've had the pleasure twice in my life. Once at a Japanese food festival, and the second, at a sushi bar on Catalina Island. 2. The rice. This is probably where I am the pickiest. If the rice is not good, it can ruin the sushi. I have two pet peeves. Cold rice, and I mean out of the refrigerator cold will not endear me to a sushi bar. The second is wet pasty rice. If I'm served that, I'm likely to only eat the content and leave the rice behind, then walk out. What makes sushi rice good - for me, the texture is firm, but not hard, and a sweet vinegary smell and taste. 3. The nori (seaweed wrap) - this depends on the type of sushi I order, so it's most important with the hand roll. A negative would be the places where the seaweed is too flakey and crumbly. And a positive would be a nice firm texture. For me, these three element must be at least acceptable, and good enjoyable sushi would score high on at least two, if not all three of these elements. How about you? Does anybody else have different standards of evaluating sushi?
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2 responses
• United States
10 Apr 07
Absolutely! I completely agree with you. Good rice is the foundation on which great sushi is made. I like mine room temp, (if not warm from the pot!) It must also be al dente, with some bite, and not mushy, ever! Likewise, it's got to be sweet with a little vinegar fragrance. Now for the seaweed - let it be moist, delicate, just a tad chewy, and it had better smell like seaweed! I don't like the dry rolls. I believe that if you start with the dries sheets, you must moisten them adequately, until they have plumped up completely. Why have seaweed if it doesn't waft in your nostrils and delight your tongue? As for the fish - I'm with you too on that. I like my tuna very, very lean. Although when I first started eating sushi, I did like the fatty tuna. I guess tastes change and refine with age. I do not like yellow tail. It often has a much fishier taste, and it's got more bite - you've really got to chew it. I don't like octopus, either. Darn chewy stale bubblegum is what it reminds me of, and it always sticks in my teeth! Right now I'm on a barbecued eel kick. I can't get enough of it. So smoky, so fall-apart in your mouth good, so like a really smooth anchovy, without the salt! Mmmm...just thinking of it makes me hungry. :)
• United States
11 Apr 07
Thank you - I wanted to be more descriptive regarding the way I like my sushi seaweed, but couldn't find the words. I agree with you 100% regarding the seaweed and rice - and octopus, which I dislike also.
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@mykmari_08 (2466)
• Philippines
29 Aug 07
I haven't tried sushi & yes, maybe I have this misconception you were discussing about. In my mind, it is inscribed that sushi is not cooked; specifically uncooked fish. But if you say that it is more of "rice cake" and someone would have me try a nice tasting sushi, maybe I'd give it a try. I also don't like eels, sea urchins. But I do love shrimps even if cooked with water and salt alone.
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