Everyone loves sushi. According to CNN, it is the 4th best dish in the world.

(https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/world-best-food-dishes/index.html)

Sushi restaurants are everywhere, maybe some of you can buy at a supermarket, or by delivery service like UberEats. But do you really know what sushi is and how people eat in Japan?

1. Sushi – what image Japanese come up with first

When you think of sushi, the image might be like these.

It’s colorful, has many ingredients inside, the outside is rice, some of them are deep-fried, with hot sauce or teriyaki sauce. But when Japanese say “let’s go eat sushi”, what they are thinking of is bit different.

The fish is on top, and sushi roll has rice inside, seaweed outside. Those rolls mentioned first was invented abroad and we don’t see so often in Japan. The type of sushi that has fish on top is called “nigiri-zushi” (means hand-formed). Other than those, there are different kinds of sushi, as in a broad sense, sushi means a dish the rice is seasoned with vinegar. Following are also called sushi.

Chirashi-zushi

Rice is not formed. Some cooked vegetables are mixed with rice. This is a typical dish Japanese eat on 3rd March, which is Girl’s Day, to celebrate young girl’s growth and happiness.

Temaki-zushi (Hand-roll sushi)

This is a type that you make by yourself at the table. This is popular as a dish that you have on an occasion of home party, when friends or family get together and have a meal.

2. How often Japanese eat sushi

Because sushi is a big symbol of Japanese cuisine, you may think Japanese eat sushi almost every day. But in fact, not so much. One survey found out that 58.8% of Japanese eat sushi once to three times a month, and 21% once a half-year (!).

3. Sushi is not so low in calorie

Sushi seems healthy, not greasy, simple seasoning with soy sauce, but actually you need to be careful. Not only because it is rice, which is carb, but because they use sugar to season the rice with vinegar. Also, some ingredients such as “o-toro” (part of tuna, like the photo) contain a lot of fat.

4. Amount of wasabi

Though depending on their like, Japanese do not put so much wasabi. It is simply because putting too much wasabi spoils the flavor of fish. Just little bit is good enough to enjoy the scent. Some Japanese prefer sushi even without wasabi as they do not like the taste.

5. Eating without chopsticks

Some people eat sushi using their hands. According to one explanation, sushi used to be quite bigger than now and was served at a small stand where people sit close to each other, so it was more convenient to use their hands. The habit still remains and for some reason, we see people using their hands more often at a fancy sushi restaurant.

6. Special abilities of sushi chefs

Believe it or not, some people say sushi chefs get special abilities while devoting their life for sushi. It is said the temperature of their hands is low, not to lower the quality of rice and fish by warming them up. Others say that they don’t sweat on their face and upper body. This is because their appearances have an affect on the customers’ appetite when they make sushi in front of them.

Sushi seems very simple. But as we have seen, it is literally Japanese soul food that people have built up its unique and deep culture in the long history. Besides those facts introduced here, there are so many more features and styles in different areas in Japan. Simple but plenty of variety (like the one deep-fried too), maybe that’s why everyone  loves sushi!

Author: Yurika Haneda

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