Video:Basic Sushi Etiquettewith Jonathon E. Stewart
If you haven't yet discovered one of the best cuisines out there, then you're in for a treat when you try sushi. First, learn the basics of sushi etiquette and you'll be rollin' in no time.See Transcript
Transcript:Basic Sushi EtiquetteHey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. Does the prospect of raw fish, chopsticks, and that little hunk of green putty on your plate scare the willies out of you? Well, you wouldn't be alone if part of that fear is that you might inadvertently embarrass yourself when trying sushi for the first time. But here's a little not-so-secret secret: sushi is delicious, healthful, and can be a ton of fun to eat, if you know just a few of the basics. Today, it's all about sushi etiquette - check it out.
Types of SushiWhile in Japan the word sushi traditionally means "snack" and refers only to the rice part of sushi, outside Japan sushi has come to also include the fish and other accompanying toppings. Two of the most common types of sushi you're likely to encounter as a starter are nigiri-zushi - pieces of fish on a bed of rice - and makizushi - or sushi rolls. Sashimi refers to raw fish all by itself.
Different Sushi RollsSalmon and tuna are great fish to start with if you go for nigiri-zushi, and if you're up for a little zing, you might want to try a spicy tuna roll. Cut rolls usually come in groups of five or six, and are separated into bite-size pieces that are easy to share. A hand roll is generally cone-shaped and meant to be consumed by one person.
Sushi Etiquette: Chopsticks or Fingers?Believe it or not, it's actually okay to eat cut rolls and nigiri with your fingers, and it's a little tough to eat a hand roll any other way. Of course you can also use chopsticks - as you should with sashimi, always - just don't do that thing where you rub them together like you're trying to start a fire.
Sushi Etiquette: TablewareThe little dish next to your plate is meant for soy sauce, which should be on your table. When you're not eating, or waiting for the next course to arrive, be sure to leave your chopsticks parallel to you, resting the smaller end on your soy sauce dish, or on a holder if one is provided.
Sushi Etiquette: WasabiThe green stuff on your plate is called wasabi, and is somewhat similar in flavor to American horseradish. While some people will mix it directly into their soy sauce, you might also want to trust that the sushi chef has provided the proper balance of wasabi for you, especially in pieces of nigiri. If anything you are served has a sauce on it already, forego the soy sauce, and enjoy it just as it is.
Sushi Table MannersHere are a few other tips to get you going: sit at the sushi bar if you want to talk directly to the chefs and ask questions - which is generally encouraged as long as you are friendly and don't monopolize their time; when served soup like miso it is proper to simply pick it up and drink straight from the bowl; try a small piece of ginger to cleanse your palate between bites of different fish; and be sure not to pass food to other people with your chopsticks, which too closely resembles certain symbolic rituals in Japanese funerals. Instead, just pass the plate.
And, while I've been to some places that lead you to believe that the Japanese word for cheers is, "Saki Bomb!"- it's actually a word that literally means, "empty your cup." Kampai! Most importantly, just remember that when you're eating sushi in a restaurant - or eating anything other than a bag of Cheetos on your couch at two in the morning - as long as you're polite and respectful, you'll be just fine.
Domo arigato gozaimashita! To learn more, visit us on the Web at style.about.com.
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