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Monday, December 27, 2004

Sushi, Sashimi and Japan

Sushi and Sashimi are two Japanese speciality foods often confused between. Sashimi is real raw fish but Sushi is not always raw fish and sometimes even veg. Sushi comes with rice balls. I have met people who does not like Sushi also. Hear from Dr. Amjad Tariq more authentically of the behind the scenes of Sushi. Dr.Amjad Tariq, of Newzealand, used to do research in food and nutrition at Tskuba University, Japan when I met him.

Unfortunately, many people associate sushi with raw seafood.

In the first place, not all seafood is served raw, and in the second place, raw seafood is more properly called Sashimi. Sashimi is slices or slabs of raw seafood, such as tuna and octopus etc, served on a platter with thinly sliced ginger, finely shredded radish, and wasabi (Japanese horse radish mustard).

Sushi types are many, but all include rice and some contain raw fish and some contain vegetables. The nigiri or hand-made sushi is the typical sushi. Another type includes sushi rolls, or maki, which are made with sheets of seaweed (nori)

The important thing to remember about sashimi is that the fish should be saltwater fish, not freshwater fish (like Lake/River). The sea water is very high in salt so mostly Sashimi is from the seawater (Freshwater fish may contain parasites that are killed by cooking. Saltwater fish do not contain these parasites.) So in Japan some expensive restuarants have a small water pond where they keep the fish and cut into pieces just before serving. Even those who don't have a pond they keep the Fish in Freezer at -20 C and as soon as they remove from Freezer they serve (within 24 hours) so that it does not contain any germs.

I discussed with a Japanese colleague and asked him about Food Poisoning/death due to Sushi/Sashimi and he said he never heard. So definitely Sushi/Sashimi are very healthy that is why Japanese live the longest in the world, many of them make centuries without any problem. These days they have twin sisters and are about 110 years old and very healthy. Sashimi can be prepared from tuna, halibut and red snapper, yellowtail, mackerel, albacore and the infamous fugu. Fugu (Japanese name), which must be prepared exactly right or it is fatal. The tuna and yellowtail are quite rich, but not at all fishy tasting. The lighter fishes, such as halibut and red snapper, are almost bland. Only the mackerel is fishy tasting, and that only slightly. Fish for sashimi is usually sliced into pieces about 1 inch wide by 1-1/2 inches long by 1/4 inch thick.

Just for your information if you got a chance to visit Japan that most of the Japanese Sauce contain alcohol and most of the noodle/soba etc as well as other dishes contain pork because they use pork bone in almost every dish.

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