Jun 04, 2009|
Sushi is supposed to be finger food, so don’t be afraid to use your hands. The civilized will wash theirs before a meal anyway, although any authentic Japanese establishment will give you an oshibori (a wet hand towel) once you’re seated.
Please refrain from making a thick greenish brown soup with your wasabi and soy sauce. This ain’t no game show to display your machismo. You want to taste the fresh seafood, not exhume your sinuses. There’s usually a spot of wasabi gluing the topping to the rice already, a gentle dab on the topping will do.
Please don’t eat the gari (pink or off-white slivers of pickled ginger) simultaneously with the sushi—they are for opening and cleansing your palette between servings. If you require the robust taste and fibrous texture of ginger to take away the mouthfeel or the flavor of raw seafood, sushi really isn’t for you. Stop trying to be trendy and stick to pork chops.
Soy sauce is known poetically as “murasaki” (purple) in sushi lingo. Go moderately—you’re here to savor sushi, not soy sauce. A slight dab on sea urchin will do. Otherwise, you might as well order peanut butter on rice, pour soy sauce all over it and call it a meal. Eels are cooked with their own special sauce and require no dipping. Neither do California rolls, or special varieties of seafood that are dressed with yuzu, sea-salt or flavored salt. If the server brings you a dish of vinegar with scallions, shredded daikon, daidai (a lime-y, fragrant citrus) or myoga (a mild, grassy, ginger-like herb), then it’s a safe bet that’s the dipping sauce for that particular fish.
If you go rice-side into the soy sauce it will loosen the grains and your whole sushi will disintegrate into your soy sauce dish. Too much soy sauce on the seafood will take away its natural flavor. Flip your sushi sideways and dip both sides. Gently.
If you’re sitting by the bar, offer itamae-san (Mr. In-front-of-the-counter, i.e.: chef) a little glass of sake from your bottle. That will give you lots of little extra amuse-bouches and specials throughout your meal.
Also see: Sushi Central for our recommended Japanese food joints in town.