We interrupt this programming for a quick update - Author interview with Erica Kirov (aka Erica Orloff) by yours truly, is now posted at the Enchanted Inkpot! Please stop by here! Now back to regularly scheduled programming...
Once again my informal survey has wound up with surprising results. More people liked sushi than disliked it. However, even more people have never tried it.
How. Fascinating. I decided therefore, that we should talk a little bit about sushi.
Sushi is beautiful and delicious. But like most things, you just gotta find what is right for you. For example, I know that mackerel and sea urchin make me hurl. So I avoid it. But I adore toro, yellowtail, flounder and red snapper. These tend to be milder flavored fish. I even like squid, sweet shrimp and octopus. Da Man can't eat octopus. It's a texture thing with him. He finds it rubbery and offensive. But I have to admit that I may have put him off octopus forever. Cause once when we went to my folks for dinner, my mom made boiled baby octopus with a hot and spicy dipping sauce. They look sort of like this but hers were whiter.
When he stepped away to get a drink, I quickly picked up a baby octopus and bit half of its head off and left it in its decapitated state on his plate. When da man came back and saw the baby octopus with its brains staring back up into his face, his usually tanned complexion turned an eerie sickly color and he began to gag and ran to the bathroom. I laughed my ass off. Since then, the boy has not been able to eat octopus.
But I digress. Let's go back to sushi. It is interesting to note that the history of sushi began in China, as with most things Asian, and evolved centuries later in Japan. What we now call sushi is far different from its origins as a salted fish fermenting in rice process. The process was used to preserve fish and the rice was thrown away after the fish was removed. The Japanese evolved sushi by adding rice wine vinegar to the rice and eating it with the half raw fish. Now it is as much an artform as it is a cuisine. Beautiful platters of sushi and sashimi (raw fish without rice) are a feast for your eyes as well as your stomach.
In Japan, training to be a sushi chef is traditionally a very long and rigorous process. They must train as an apprentice under a sushi master for 10 years. A good shushi chef not only is a master of the delicate knife work needed to be a great sushi chef, but also is a creative artist. But in the states, it seems like anybody can call themselves a sushi chef. This is not a good thing.
To become a good sushi chef, you don't have to be Asian. Any nationality can excel at this art. But you do have to have good training. Unfortunately, while many places serve sushi, not every place has a good sushi chef, and this can ruin the experience for a novice sushi eater. For example, certain fish can be ruined by a poor knife job, leaving it a tasteless slab of goo. Also, a good sushi chef will never serve a piece of fish that is off. A bad one will. This can be the difference between enjoying your first experience with sushi or spending your night clinging to the rim of your toilet.
So to all of you out there who said you never had sushi or didn't like it, I say, "You do not like them, so you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say."
But please don't go to any corner sushi spot. Make sure you get a good write up at your local food critic column or other reputable recommendation. Make sure you have a true sushi chef and not some fake sushi chef with a matchbox sushi chef diploma. And whatever you do DON'T buy the pre-packaged stuff at your local supermarket. Cause if you do, you might as well take a whole box of laxatives and call it a night.