According to top Japanese chefs, we’ve been eating sushi wrong for years
If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you know that the stuff you find as part of a supermarket meal deal doesn’t quite make the cut.
Making sushi is an art form, with the greatest masters in the game striving for perfection in order to bring out the best of their high-end ingredients. Even if you avoid those clammy rolls like the plague, there’s a pretty high chance you’ve been eating sushi all wrong.
To help us all to appreciate the delicious and delicate flavours better, British newspaper The Independent have spoken to some top Japanese chefs to outline what the greatest faux pas are when it comes to eating the Japanese cuisine.
From miso soup to matcha tea, sashimi to sake, here are the mistakes you’ve been making…
1. Too much soy sauce
Soy sauce should be used sparingly to complement the taste of raw fish rather than overpower the delicate fresh flavours. According to Mark Edwards, Head Chef of Nobu London, the best way to avoid this is to “refrain from letting the rice soak up the sauce, and instead dip the piece of fish.”
Also, treat the communal soy sauce with respect and don’t double dip for obvious reasons.
2. Putting loads of ginger on your sushi
Pickled ginger is traditionally meant to be used as a palate cleanser between different types of sushi rather than in the same mouthful. Oops.
3. Disregarding the garnish
Whilst you’ve been piling ginger on your sushi like an uneducated sushi eater (how dare you?), you’ve probably been ignoring the stuff that you’re meant to be eating. Shredded daikon and shiso leaves aren’t just decoration according to Andrew Kojima, Japanese restaurateur and chef, “They taste great and they aid digestion of oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.”
4. Eating ramen without slurping
Slurping your noodles when eating ramen is a sign of appreciation and shows respect to the chef, says Shane Zhao, head chef of Isso London. Plus, it helps cool the noodles so you don’t burn your mouth. And don’t chop your noodles - it’s insulting.
5. Facing chopsticks the wrong way
According to Shunpei Yamaguchi, manager of Ginza Onodera in London, placing your chopsticks vertically into a rice bowl when eating is a huge faux pas, as it reminds people of funerals “where a bowl of rice is left with two chopsticks standing vertically as a part of traditional custom.”
6. Mixing wasabi and soy sauce
This one cut me deep. “Soy sauce has a lot of sodium and also wasabi has too much spice and it blocks a lot of the flavour because sushi is very delicate,” says Nobu Shoreditch. Again, your focus should be on the fresh fish.
7. Eating cold sushi
“Sushi rice is meant to be warm and soft when it is freshly prepared, not cold and hard,” says Andrew Kojima. The fish is the only part that should be cold, with the warmth of the rice helping you detect the flavour of the fish better. And, here we thought that it was meant to be cold…
8. Drenching matcha tea in boiling water
“Never pour boiling water on matcha green tea, it burns the leaves and creates a bitter taste,” says James Shillcock, founder of Vivid Matcha Green Tea. Also, any lumps should be whisked out, and you should only buy the high-grade stuff for peak enjoyment.
9. Eating miso soup with a spoon
“Japanese soups tend to be thinner and the bowls they are served in are smaller, so that you can sip straight from the cup,” says Kojima.
10. Not knowing what sushi even is
Clue: it’s not the roll. ‘Sushi’ actually means ‘vinigered’ rice.