The fine and elegant sushi you can enjoy in Japan is far different for the sushi that’s to be found in the US. It almost has become a new food variety from the traditional sushi. Sushi originally came to be as a way to preserve fish in fermented rice that made the fish last for months. The rice prevented the fish from spoiling. Later, in the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), the began to add vinegar to the rice to make it taste better and make the preservation last longer. In the Edo Period (1603-1868) they started to see the great potential of sushi, where chefs served rice with fish and nori. The process from the original sushi to the beloved rice dish we see and eat today has been well developed by now and the US and Europe have been taking sushi-matters into their own hands. Now there are a lot of different types of sushi, such as the nigiri sushi with the protein on top, maki sushi, the basic rolled-in-nori sushi, and the temaki, the large rolled ice-cream-cone like sushi and the sashimi, which is basically not a type of sushi since it doesn’t have any rice, but is often eaten together and entails fresh cut fish like tuna or salmon.
It is well known that the US favors bold and strong flavors over elegance and simplicity found in the Japanese kitchen and that’s reflected in the way the US makes their sushi. That’s why the California roll has become such a hit. Luckily, sushi is super versatile and no matter what you add or take, most sushi tastes great. But, has the US taken it too far?
23 Sushi Dessert
Fruits like mango and kiwi were already around, but the US thought that there could be more to it. Ranging from sushi cookies to sushi cakes to just fruity sushi, the sushi dessert is now a thing that, while a cute gimmick, has absolutely no place calling itself sushi. Instead of using vinegar in the rice, you can make the rice sweet by adding sweetened coconut milk or even add chocolate to the equation! Put your favorite fruits or sweets, like marshmallows or fruit bears in the middle and roll it with nori, or a slice of mango or even just in cereal. There are no limitations to the possibilities of this dessert, but please, do not mistake it for actual sushi lest Jiro himself find you and smite you for your sins.
22 Sushi Burrito
The sushi burrito, aka the Sushirrito, came into this world by the creative and disturbed brains of the eponymous fast-food chain in San Francisco in January 2011. Avocado was a great addition and the link between guacamole and sushi was easily made. And why not, some may ask? It’s portable, it’s fast and it’s big enough to satisfy the greatest hunger. There’s rice in burritos and rice in sushi. That may all be true, but sushi by its very nature is meant to be delicate, something to be savored, not scarfed down. Sushi is designed to be bite-sized pieces of bliss, not hunks of fish and condiments the size of a small infant. The US needs to learn that bigger isn't always better.
Sushirrito offer a wide variety of sushi burritos, such as the Fiery Chicken or the Buddha belly, but people have began making it home too. Other stores have taken over the idea and named it something like the Sushirap, and it's almost impossible to avoid in trendy food cities these days. We're all for fusion, but not like this.
21 Deep Fried Sushi
Although the tempura batter is originally from Japan and is often used to coat shrimps or veggies, giving it this scrumptious crispy layer that’s simply divine. Despite it being not the most straight-forward thing to add to sushi, the US needed their sushi to be crispier and more deep-fried, so they added tempura. It’s a smart way to use original Japanese ingredients in a Japanese dish, but could it just be that sushi is also great without it? True, it is delicious, but you would not find it in a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant.
20 Frozen Fish VS Fresh Fish
There have been horrific cases of people experiencing food poisoning (or even worse) after eating spoilt fish and therefore the US has decided to implement a law that all the fish that is used in sushi needs to be frozen first in order to kill parasites. We will not go into detail on how bad some cases were, but we’re happy the law is there. Obviously, it wasn’t how the traditional sushi from Japan came to be, but the vinegar added to the fermented rice and therefore kept the fish fresh. Since it changed over the years, new ways had to come around in order to keep the sushi fresh and delectable. We guess we'll let this one pass for safety reasons alone, though we aren't sure why we can't just have it the traditional way. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
19 Mayonnaise, Teriyaki Sauce and Chili sauce
We have endured people adding chili sauce onto their spaghetti bolognese, or soy sauce onto their mashed potatoes, but adding mayonnaise and the likes onto sushi is a new degree of challenging your tastebuds. Maybe you could get away with adding chili sauce to your California roll at home, but there is no way that when you ask for teriyaki sauce or chili sauce at a (respectable) sushi restaurant, the chef’s will hand it over to you. They probably won’t even have it. However, mayonnaise seems to be the new perfect combination with the Crispy Roll and we do agree that it is lovely, but then again, deep fried sushi bears little resemblance ot the real thing, so get as creative as you like. Still; mayonnaise on sushi? It just doesn’t sound right.
18 Fish And Chips
Have you ever been taken to this fancy sushi place around the corner with your family and you were just craving a side of chips? We have experienced that too. Although most sushi restaurants often offer American styled dishes like chips or sausages, it is absolutely not how the Japanese would enjoy their sushi. And to be fair; is it really necessary? We could understand it if you have a kid that’s going through the picky-eater phase, but as an adult you should consider yourself a culture barbarian when you order those (yummy) chips.
17 Sushi Burger
One day, a psychopath woke up and decided the world needed a burger made out of sushi: the sushi burger! Instead of the bun, you have dome shaped rice on top and you can just add about anything you like. While this may make great Insta fodder and we're all for innovation, sometimes things that seems like good ideas are in fact very much the opposite. Think about it, do you really want to bite into a chunk of raw fish? If your answer is yes, you may be beyond our help. You aren't a seal or shark, so don't eat like one. Raw fish is, once again, something to be savored with finesse, not torn into with your chompers and shoved down your gullet.
16 The Soy Sauce Drench
Most of us will find ourselves guilty of the soy sauce drench. It’s easy to over-poor the sauce and then, when you try to dip it in awkwardly with those chopsticks, the rice sucks up all the soy sauce. Besides the fact that it contains a lot of sodium, which in large quantities is not that good for you, it also overpowers the taste of the sushi. Basically, the rice functions as a vacuum for the sauce. Instead, you should dip it just slightly onto the fish side of the sushi or onto the nori. The trick starts with pouring just a little layer of soy sauce and try not to splash it in!
Cream cheese, used for example in the Philadelphia Roll, is immensely popular, especially in North America, for obvious reasons. Who doesn’t like creamy cheese? There are even makizushi with cheddar, but the most outrageous one is the cheesy sushi where someone just couldn’t get enough of cheese and transformed it into a sushi-fondue feast. However, the combination of cheese and sushi is a very unlikely mix for the traditional sushi enjoyer. Where the traditional sushi from Japan stands for simplicity and the elegance of one specific flavor, cheese is just an all-over-the-top combo that mixes all types of flavors together. Why would anybody even want this?
In Japan, eating sushi three times a week is unusual; it’s an easy snack that’s eaten quickly and on the go in the US, but not in Japan. In America, there’s hardly a town or city that doesn’t have its local sushi shop. It is true that it is a relatively healthy snack, compared to the McDonalds or the KFC, but sushi was originally thought of as a special-occasion dish. The US even designed fast-foods based on sushi, such as the sushirrito! Nothing wrong with a healthy snack; but there is something off with turning sushi into something unrecognizable, and mass producing it for the sake of busy professionals trying to make the most of their ten minute lunch break seems to defeat the very purpose of this dish.
13 All You Can Eat
Whereas sushi is enjoyed slowly in Japan as to enjoy the one-bite dish the longest and freshest, the US prefers to have a lot and fast! Ordering sushi in bulks, like containers of sushi sold in supermarkets, is not the view the traditional Japanese sushi chefs had in mind. The best sushi is eaten fresh, and therefore eaten per one piece at a time. Don’t you agree that sushi that’s sat in the fridge for a while just tastes stale and blunt? Try to sit down and enjoy the sushi one by one instead and you’ll notice the difference. That includes the massive sushi rolls that are around too; they made them one-bite sized for a reason.
12 Less Is More
America’s (and European) ways of sushi is completely different from the traditional ways of the sushi from Japan. Whereas the Japanese prefer simplicity, the US chooses the lot. The traditional maki includes one type of fish to sparkle as the protagonist, with maybe a bit of vegetable. The US type of sushi is jam-packed with condiments, and whatever else they can find. And there’s no limit to their creativity; salmon goes with tuna and crab and that goes with avocado and mayonnaise and mango and cream cheese. It’s not particularly our cup of tea but hey, whatever floats your boat.
11 Inside Out
Did you know that the sushi where the rice is outside, is not originally from Japan? It’s a style that allows Americans to fit more different condiments into the roll. And clever it is! It started with the slight reluctance of Europeans to eat seaweed- or dried nori for that matter, so they decided to hide it by covering the seaweed with rice, while the insides are still rolled in the nori. If you don’t see it, you’re inclined to taste is less. Besides that, it made the sushi look more appealing. Adding bright orange fish eggs onto the layer or sesame seeds just gives it that extra touch of glamour, doesn’t it?
10 Extensive Training
Although there are many tutorials on how to make your own sushi at home, creating good, true and traditional sushi is deceivably hard and complicated. In order to call yourself a sushi- chef in Japan, you have to go through 2-4 years of intense, stressful training. Things like how to cut the fish properly, how to cook the sushi rice perfectly, and how to figure out the ideal ratio of fish and rice and nori, is not a job you can learn overnight. The American sushi can be taught in period as short as 3 months, where you’ll get a certificate afterwards.
9 Sugar, Sugar
In order to get sushi taste like sushi, you have to work the magic of sweet and sour ingredients. It’ll give it a richer taste instead of just bland sticky rice. Normally, you add 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar for a beautifully balanced sushi roll. But, in order to make sushi more attractive to the westerns - and we are used to sweeter food with all that added sugar to our pre-made dishes, more sugar is poured in the recipe. Of course everyone has their own preference and flavour and it’s okay that here’s a cultural difference, but sometimes sushi can taste too sweet and overpowering. There needs to be a balance.
Although most sushi restaurants nowadays are casual and relaxed, if you go to a restaurant that sells the fancy stuff it will require some knowledge on etiquette. Not wearing perfume, for example, since sushi is as much about fragrance as it is about taste. Eat slowly, piece by piece, don’t omit the rice, don’t overdo the soy sauce and sometimes you even have to eat in a specific order! The US has wiped away all those etiquettes, which are meant to increase the sushi- experience, and although eating in a relaxed manner is sometimes nice, more of us could do with a briefing on sushi-etiquettes.
Avocado is an addition to the culinary world of sushi by a chef from Los Angeles about 50 years ago, ‘cause he was looking for something creamy and fatty. From that day, hardly anyone can imagine a place without avocado and tuna or avocado in the California roll, especially since avocado’s are easily available in California. We, too, have to admit we always opt for the avocado instead of the cucumber. Still, it is not the original ways of the sushi. However, we’re willing to see this one through the fingers since it makes the sushi taste so buttery smooth!
6 Don’t Stab Sushi With Your Chopsticks
Yes, this abomination happens and it will not surprise you to hear that it is not the way how we’re supposed to guide lovely sushi into our mouths. We understand that sometimes eating with chopsticks is frustratingly hard or that you are just insanely hungry, but there is no excuse to the stabbing of sushi with your chopsticks. Besides the fact that it looks as if you’re holding a grudge towards the poor sushi chef, it also changes the flavour and structure of the sushi by deforming it. Using your hands is a perfectly normal and acceptable way of getting the sushi where you want it to be: in your belly.
5 Chopsticks VS Fingers
Sushi is traditionally eaten with your hands. Yes, you heard us. No longer do you need to fuss with your chopsticks to try to impress your friends. We know you’ve trained hard; going to the sushi train multiple times a month to practice your chopstick-skills, but now you can breath. According to the world-renowned sushi-chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, eating sushi is about smelling the fish, feeling the texture and tasting it with your heart. Only if you don’t like the smell of raw fish could you use chopsticks, but who eats sushi if you’re not into fish?
4 Eat It In One Bite
Sushi is served in one-bite size for a reason. Some people try to cut it for unknown reasons, but it will only make it a messy business. Chopsticks are not suitable for cutting, as you may have found out. If they wanted you to cut it, they would’ve given you a knife. Besides that, the best way to actually taste the sushi in its full glory and grandeur, is to enjoy it in one go. Years of practice and development has given sushi the perfect ratio of rice and fish (and nori), so don’t try to make it more difficult than it is.
3 Vinegar or No Vinegar?
Sushi came to be as a way to preserve fish, and vinegar was a necessary addition to the rice. Although a lot has changed, the acidity of the vinegar is still an important asset to sushi and complements the fish and makes the rice taste less sweet. However, the tastebuds in the US are used to different types of food and often the vinegar is added in less quantities or even left out. The results are not drastically different, but you can taste there’s something lacking, that true, traditional sushi does have.
2 The Wasabi And Soy Sauce Bath
Often, chefs already put wasabi in-between the rice and the fish to give it a fresh umami flavour. For those who can’t get enough of wasabi, it’s offered next to the soy sauce. Interestingly, some people thought of a loophole, mixing the wasabi with the soy sauce to make it super easy. We do grant that it’s a clever way to combine the both of them, but according to the traditional ways, it’s best to do it separately. After you’ve dipped it into the sauce, you can use your fingers of chopsticks to place a little dash of wasabi on top of the fish.
1 Ginger as a palate cleanser
Apparently that small plate with those cute rose coloured ginger leafs are not meant to be stacked on top of your avocado maki. Instead, gari (pickled ginger) is intended to be a palate cleanser. It’s traditionally served with the sushi. Its particular yet flavour helps to overpower the flavour of your previous sushi and ‘cleanses’ your mouth and tastebuds, so you can enjoy your next bite without clashing flavours. So the next time you’ll have some sushi, try to resist the urge of piling the ginger on top of your spicy tuna roll.