What is sushi?
Sushi is the common term for a dish comprised of raw fish served on a bed of rice. However, the true definition of sushi is somewhat different. Common parlance aside, sushi is many things, but in actuality, the term “sushi” refers refers to the rice that is eaten with your meal. “Su” is the Japanese term for vinegar and “meshi” means rice. Combine the two (in the Japanese grammatical sense) and you have “sushi” which refers to the vinegared (seasoned) rice used in your meal. Believe it or not, it’s not just plain rice under your “neta” (the seafood on top of your rice), but a specially seasoned mix of special short grain rice and various other ingredients to make it special.
The “sushi” we know is the food we order at a Japanese restaurant. Name your seafood and how it’s presented, based on your preference, and that’s sushi. The sides are just that, sides, regardless as to how sumptuous they may be (Goma Wakame and Chuka Ika Sansai, for example).
Sushi need not be raw. Often cooked foods are offered, as well as food items not presented in the way they are often pictured in menus, books, and other media. Modern sushi is sashimi (raw fish with no rice), nigiri sushi (“finger sushi”, fish on a bed of rice), maki sushi (“cut rolls” which are rolls sliced into pieces, often six or eight), and many other items which we at SushiNut.com will be highlighting throughout our sushi school.
When people think of “sushi” today, the word conjures images of the myriad of items offered at Japanese restaurants. At SushiNut we will offer greater detail on each of these items in other areas, but the important concept to take away from the dish is that that as delicious as it is, there is the fast food version, and the artful, creative style of sushi that you will find in good restaurants (or that you may make at home). Sushi is as much about creativity, design, presentation, and balance as it is about feeding yourself.
Sushi is an experience. While one can be just as happy eating a salmon roll bought from a local store, the true art of sushi can best be enjoyed when an experienced master presents something beautiful on an expensive night out, or if you yourself are the master, making sushi your way, with the ingredients you choose. It is also enjoying the company of others while your masterpiece (and every piece you make can be) awaits your dining pleasure. Sushi is not just fish and rice; sushi is enjoying of the bounty of the sea, and sharing with others.