Sushi for Beginners

| October 15, 2012

sushi types

Few foods intimidate beginners like sushi. If you have yet to enjoy this classic Japanese style of cuisine, use DexKnows restaurant listings to find a sushi bar in your area, then order with confidence after committing the following to memory.

Two Common Types of Sushi

Nigiri: A slice of raw or cooked fish or shellfish pressed onto a mound of vinegared rice, with a little wasabi (think the strongest of horseradishes) in between.

Maki: Layers of raw or cooked fish or shellfish, vegetables and vinegared rice on a sheet of dried sea kelp rolled into a cylinder then cut into pieces. Temaki follows a similar setup but uses only a half sheet of dried sea kelp wrapped around the ingredients like a cone; also known as a hand roll.

Don’t Forget Sashimi

Sashimi: A slice of raw fish or seafood only. The term sushi refers to the presence of the vinegared rice, so sashimi does not technically qualify as such, but you will see it listed alongside the sushi offerings at Japanese restaurants.

Tips for Ordering and Enjoying Sushi and Sashimi

1. Sit at the sushi bar of a Japanese restaurant. Watching the chefs work will not only give you insight into the cuisine but an opportunity to ask for recommendations.

2. Keep it simple. If you have never before had sushi — and a California roll from the grocery store really doesn’t count — order nigiri such as tuna or salmon to see if you like the textures and tastes of these milky raw fishes. Look for the number of pieces included with each order, typically one or two, to avoid overordering. Try a simple temaki roll, as well, to see what maki combinations you like without having to finish an entire roll, which is typically six to eight pieces. A spicy tuna hand roll serves as an excellent introduction.

3. Add wasabi and soy sauce sparingly. At sushi restaurants in Japan, the chefs frown on using either at all (along with chopsticks), but in America, you can get away with adding their flavors if you like. That said, try the sushi without, as a beginner, to truly taste the fish and discover your preferences.

4. Use ginger to cleanse your palate. The pale pink slices on your plate will be pickled ginger, and they can be used to prep your mouth for the next taste, as can sips of hot green tea.

Once you have the basics of sushi and sashimi down, be brave and start ordering outside of your comfort zone. One of the best parts of learning to eat sushi at Japanese restaurants involves the portion sizes, as an order of nigiri leaves little to waste. Bring along a friend or two to help with cleanup if you like trying new rolls.

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Category: Food & Dining, Sushi

About the Author ()

Pamela Mitchell spent more than 15 years at daily newspapers such as the Hartford Courant and Houston Chronicle before becoming a full-time freelancer. She now writes about a variety of topics, from dining and entertainment to pets and travel.