A Closer Look

What is sushi?

preparing the tuna

Sushi is considered an art form. It is elegantly arranged to enhance its simplicity and natural beauty. The method of preparation, shape and taste differ somewhat depending on the prefectures in Japan. Each sushi holds its tradition and characteristic in every prefecture. Sushi is very attractive because it is prepared quickly before the customer's eyes by the sushi chef.

Sushi is NOT raw fish, but today refers to vinegary rice used in making sushi. This should not be confused with Sashimi, which is the actual term for raw fish.

Type of sushi

hokki gai nigiri

Nigiri-zushi is a fresh, delicate piece of sashimi pressed on top of vinegary rice. Nigiri-zushi means "squeezed sushi" and was originally a specialty from Tokyo. It was actually called "Edo-mae," meaning in "front of Tokyo" (Tokyo was originally called Edo) because the fresh fish came directly from the fish market at Tokyo Bay.

Maki-zushi is sushi which is rolled with rice and sheets of seaweed, then sliced into bite-sized portions. This form of sushi is extremely popular due to its amazing versatility, almost any combination of items can be used. People who are new to eating sushi will find it particularly appealing, as the many ingredients combined into a delightful taste sensation completely dispels any squeamishness associated with "raw fish." There are two types of rolled sushi: Hosomaki, or cut roll, is the most familiar, and Temaki, whish is rolled by hand into a cone shape.

Sashimi is fresh seafood, served raw, chilled, and sliced. The art of sashimi is in its aesthetic arrangements. Sashimi, unlike sushi, does not combine the fish with vinegary rice, therefore only the finest cuts of fish are selected by the sushi chef. There are four primary cuts used in its preparation. The first, Hira zukuri is a rectangular cut, and is primarily used for fish that are more delicate and frail. Ito zukuri is a very thin cut slice (about sixteenth of an inch thick) for fillets such as squid. Kaku zukuri is cut in cubes, approximately three-quarters of a square inch, and is used for tuna and yellowtail. Finally, Usu zukuri is a paper thin cut slice, so thin that the plate is visible through the fish.

Chirashi-zushi means "scattered sushi," but this simple description does not adequately prepare one for this beautifully arranged dish. In Tokyo, both cooked and uncooked seafood, vegetables and omelet are "scattered" on top of sushi rice in a bowl. In Osaka, chirashi-zushi is made of finely chopped ingredients, such as eel, fish, and ginger, which is cooked, and served with rice.


© 2007 Blue Fin Sushi Restaurant