Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sushi 寿司

Some time ago some friends treated me to a very nice lunch at the Diamond Kyoto Society that included sushi which is and, for many years now, has been my most treasured cuisine. I appreciate its relative simplicity, texture, taste and esthetic. This meal provided me with a chance to try a new kind of sushi that was topped with tsukimono (pickled vegetables), that proved to be absolutely delicious. Years ago when I was first told that some Japanese rate the quality of sushi on the rice and or the tomago (egg) I was rather confused, I thought the fish was the primary interest of the dish. However, sushi refers to the cooked vinegared rice, that is then commonly topped with other ingredients or put into rolls - so being concerned with the quality of the rice makes sense, though in the states I feel we tend to focus more on the fish. The most traditional form of sushi is fermented fish and rice preserved with salt and this is where the term 'sushi' comes from; being an archaic grammatical form that literally means "it's sour". The contemporary version of sushi was created by Hanaya Yohei at the end of Edo period and is intended to be a finger food prepared and eaten quickly. As for the importance of tamago, it is such a basic component with so few ingredients that if the chef has mastered it, then all of his or her other dishes are sure to be good. Similarly I have heard the best test of any chefs metal can be found through their competence in the most simple dish. So I hope you get to enjoy some sushi soon and I hope that whatever is on top is your #1 favorite.

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