It was about time I opened a space to talk about one of the most sublime pleasures in this life: Sushi, for me a gut-wrenching craving pleasure that never fades away.
Some call it posh, some call it plain tasting, and others don’t even think of it as eatable food; somehow sushi is more than just food, it’s an experience. After I tried it the first time, I thought, wow, how can something so simple be this good?
I can definitely answer this question, my dear Reader, but before I need to tell you how and when I had my first encounter with sushi.
When I first tasted sushi, I was shocked, and I was lucky that I was in a true Japanese restaurant in Santiago (apparently a very good one – which I was unable to judge at that time), the chef was Yuuya Kaneko.
I looked at the ingredients that composed my salmon roll: rice, algae, salmon, wasabi and soy sauce. Curiously, none of these ingredients would be good by themselves alone, but altogether they do magic! So I needed to solve the mystery.
I won’t talk about the obvious remarks like freshness of fish and other raw ingredients, or their high quality, but rather about two factors that are often not even considered as equally important: rice preparation/consistency and the ratio of raw ingredients (see the photo below for the right ratio).
As I eventually learnt, rice preparation strongly determines whether sushi will be a) excellent, b) good, c) so-so, d) mediocre, or e) just bad. This is because sushi rice preparation is highly dependent on the blend of salt, sugar and rice vinegar; considering that vinegar has a very strong flavor that can cover tuna or whatever raw fish you it with sushi, you can imagine how this will affect the delicate balance of a good result if you don’t pour in the exact right amount.
Normally the ratio of salt/sugar/rice vinegar will be as follows:
1 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
And here we come to the rice consistency: it is important to know that sushi uses sushi rice, a specific type of rounded-short-grained rice. This is because sushi rice is harder and stickier than regular rice, and it needs to be sticky in order to function as required. Since rice in the uramaki sushi (see the picture below, with a right balance of rice, fish and cream cheese) goes on the outside, it needs to cling on it. Good rice should be sticky enough so that all grains stick firmly together, but it should not be so sticky that it becomes an amorphous mash of rice. Sushi needs to taste good and look nice, you don’t want to have a lump of boiled rice with a piece of salmon, but instead a composition of flavors and color, right?
Reasons why you should eat sushi:
1) It tastes awesome.
2) It’s pretty.
3) It’s healthy.
4) The seaweed wrapping is funny.
5) It reminds of Hattori Hanzo.
6) It opens your mind/taste to a different flavor dimension.
7) It’s just different.
Do I need to say more?