Sushi and Zen
Sushi is a food that nourishes the body, enriches the brain, and is a delight for the eye. Sushi is a healthy food, in which the quality of the raw ingredients, the taste, the chemical composition, the physical texture, and the aesthetic presentation are inseparable entities. Sushi is a food where the pleasure taken in its preparation and the artistry of the presentation are just as important to the whole experience as the meal itself. Sushi encompasses passion, science, and wellness. Sushi is Zen.
9 FUN FACTS
- Sushi is a food preparation originating in Japan, consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients such as raw seafood, vegetables and sometimes tropical fruits.
- Plastic grass in takeout sushi had a historical purpose. Actual leaves were once used instead of the now-ubiquitous plastic grass. The leaves were used for decoration and dividing food, but also offered antibacterial properties to help fish stay fresh longer.
- The earthquake of 1923 brought sushi off the streets. Previously, sushi was exclusively a street food, but the devastation from the quake destroyed so much of Tokyo that real estate prices dropped, allowing sushi chefs to afford brick-and-mortar restaurants.
- Japanese knives are sharpened differently. Unlike the sharp objects that cut food in the West, most Japanese knives are sharpened only on one side. They cut on the pull stroke rather than the push stroke, allowing chefs to keep their elbows close to their side.
- Salmon is technically a white fish. It gets that orange color from a diet of crustaceans.
- Sashimi’s translation makes perfect sense. “Sashi” means cut, “mi” means body.
- Your wasabi is probably not real wasabi. Real wasabi comes from the root of the wasabia japonica plant, not horseradish. The powerful burn of wasabi comes from naturally antimicrobial chemicals in the plant, the perfect compliment for consuming raw seafood which may contain parasites. Authentic wasabi is pricey. The stuff typically provided in sushi restaurants is made from horseradish and mustard powder, then dyed green with artificial dyes to resemble real wasabi.
- Pickled ginger is dyed pink. Young ginger plants do have a slightly pink color, but most of what you’ll see commercially is naturally a pale yellow before it’s dyed with either artificial colors or beet juice.
- Even fresh sushi is frozen first. Food safety regulations in the US and Europe require that raw fish be frozen for a certain amount of time to kill parasites. In Europe, raw fish must have been frozen at -20 degrees Celsius for at least 24 hours. Even the freshest raw fish served in Western sushi restaurants has been frozen, which damages the original taste and texture. Japanese sushi masters are trained to recognize potential problems such as flukes and parasites in fish and avoid serving them.