Fact#11. Sushi(寿司)vs. “Sushi”?

sushi-sushi Source: wikipedia Common

JinK: Bishop-san, I had American sushi the other day.

Bishop: Was it good?

JinK: It was surprisingly good, but it’s not the same thing as the sushi you can have in Japan.

Bishop: What do you mean?

JinK: American sushi is all over the map – putting avocados and tempura in the rolls,

adding spicy sauce to the tuna… the names are also very odd, like caterpillar roll, or dragon roll.

Bishop: Yes, that’s true. I really like California rolls.

JinK: Yeah, you won’t find these odd combinations in Japan, but some of them

turn out to be surprisingly good.

Bishop: But still, Japanese sushi is somehow more deep… or should I say subtle…

anyway it’s really good. What is so different about it, I wonder…

JinK: I’d say it’s a difference in how the act of sushi making is approached.

Bishop: Meaning…?

JinK: In Japan, chefs hone their skill over years and years, focusing only on how to

bring the best out of the ingredients themselves. From carefully selecting ingredients,

to keeping them fresh, to the technique used in cutting the sashimi, to how much the rice

is cooked, to how hard the rice is squeezed, they focus on perfecting the fundamentals.

It’s considered heresy to try to be creative in unusual ways before you have

the fundamentals down. In that way, sushi is a bit similar to the budo (samurai) code.

Bishop: Now that you mention it, watching Japanese sushi chefs, there are no wasted motions;

it’s beautiful to watch.

JinK: Also, if you’ll notice, Japanese sushi chefs don’t wear plastic gloves. The reason is that

they need to feel the warmness and firmness of the sushi with their bare hands in order

to make the best sushi they can. Though in the U.S., they mostly wear plastic gloves.

I understand that they need to be sanitary when dealing with raw food,

but if a sushi chef were wearing gloves in Japan, it would be considered such a waste.

Bishop: I see.

JinK: But I think the American approach is interesting too.

Bishop: How so?

JinK: American sushi is interesting since they try all sorts of different combinations

of ingredients. I’m sure there are a lot of failures, but there are some which actually work

quite well; anyway it’s really creative. The part I find interesting is the dynamism to

experiment and try new things. A lot of the new inventions go against hard and

fast conventions in Japanese sushi.

Bishop: That’s true. There are a lot of things which go surprisingly well together.

JinK: For sure. As long as you’re having sushi in America, rather than have mediocre

Japanese-style sushi, it might be best to just enjoy American-style sushi.

Bishop: I think so too.

JinK: Even so, I wish more Americans could know not just about these creative American

combinations, but also about the type of sushi we have in Japan; the type

that makes you sigh with emotion at how delicious it is, putting the finely crafted pieces

in your mouth one after the other. Same thing with tempura and sake as well.

Japanese food has risen a lot in popularity, but it’s sad that

most non-Japanese don’t know the taste of true Japanese food.

Bishop: Heh, heh, heh…

JinK: What’s up, Bishop-san?

Bishop: I know the taste. In fact, I’m going tomorrow… you know where.

JinK: Ahh, way to rub it in…

Fact #11  Sushi in Japan and sushi in the U.S. are different things

by Bishop & JinK.

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