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A little sushi omission

  • Velma Feb 7, 2007 02:49 PM
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I tend to talk a lot at work about all the so called weird things I eat (my co-workers call them weird anyway) and today, based on my reputation, I was finally invited out to lunch to eat sushi with the other weird food eaters. They said "You do EAT sushi don't you??" I lied and said of course. Truthfully, I never have and am kind of scared of it. So, how can I start gently without giving away my secret and ruining my reputation? Any important buzz words to know?

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  1. Here's a good link to get you started.

    http://sushifaq.com/

    Enjoy your first time.

    1. These days, you can say you eat sushi without ever eating raw fish. Sushi places make so many crazy rolls with cooked salmon or deep fried shrimp (I've even seen one with chicken teriyaki in it) it drives me nuts... mostly because I love raw tuna, sweet shrimp, etc and it's not as much fun to have to share rolls of tempura shrimp with someone who "eats sushi".

      Anyway, I think you can start off with mellow sushi even with a reputation of eating "weird food". Tuna's pretty basic. Shrimp is cooked. Uni (cooked eel) tastes like teriyaki fish (don't anyone yell at me, it's the easiest way I can describe it to someone who has never eat it!). I like ama ebi (sweet raw shrimp with the heads deep fried - weird!) but I don't eat uni (sea urchin). Some people only eat halibut. Some only eat tuna at certain restaurants.

      Spider rolls are like deep fried soft shell crabs in a roll with some imitation crab, maybe. I throw this out because some people are freaked out by the leg sticking out of one end, so maybe you could save your "reputation" by eating it?

      Just because you said you eat sushi but you haven't, doesn't mean you have to now be an expert at it. Unless you said you love sushi and have been eating it for years, etc. If they start wondering why you don't eat the crazy sushi they do, just tell them that with all the other wacky foods you eat, you prefer to keep your sushi tendencies nice and simple.

      21 Replies
      1. re: leanneabe

        uni is sea urchin.

        unagi is cooked eel.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Never confuse the two. You willfind very strong opinions for/against both uni and unagi (and its cousin unago). I will eat unagi/unago all night, but will shut down immediately if uni placed in front of me. Most of my colleagues are just the opposite.

          1. re: jfood

            i'm not the confused one. i eat both.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              sorry, i would never think you were confused. i replied to OP but hit reply under you. oops

            2. re: jfood

              It's "anago", not "unago". Unagi is a freshwater eel and anago is saltwater eel. There's no word "unago", but "inago" means grasshopper!

              1. re: Silverjay

                Thanks SJ. thats why i point a lot at sushi bars. I understand that there is an even better closeness in words with ochinko and ashinko.

              2. re: jfood

                Anago, not unago. Unagi and anago. Unagi is delicious and anago is crap. Unagi is freshwater eel and anago is saltwater eel- dry, fishy saltwater eel.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  Unagi is never served at sushi restaurants in Japan. It's not considered a sushi fish there- too greasy. But it seems to be used in sushi in N.America, probably because of availability issues for anago. Because of it's high oil content, it's often frozen and shipped all over- often reheated over flames....Anago is lighter, "fluffier", more delicately flavored, and less greasy. When in season (from early summer), it's almost always served fresh.

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    lol, there's LOTS of stuff served here you'd never see in japan.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      you're exactly right. Anyone care for a slab of phialdelphia roll? YUK!

                    2. re: Silverjay

                      My former neighborhood sushi chef would never allow me to order unagi. He said it was pre-packaged and he was embarassed to serve it to anyone who really appreciated Japanese food.

                      1. re: omotosando

                        I'm pretty sure that 99% of the unagi served in America is the stuff that comes pre-sauced and pre-cooked in cryopacks from China that you can buy at any asian grocery. They have pre-packed unagi from Japan, but it's a lot more expensive (something like $15 for a 10 oz. "side") so I doubt that many places serve it. In spite of this, I still regularly order unagi at sushi bars. I don't know why, though, since I could just buy a whole pack and toaster oven it just as well as they do at the restaurant for significantly less money. I'd love to visit a place that makes unagi in house.

                        1. re: Humbucker

                          i have had unagi made in house several times in LA and OC. it was lusher, fattier and oh so delicious. i can't remember the price though.

                      2. re: Silverjay

                        Thanks SJ, I was wondering why i only saw Anago in Tokyo and never saw Unagi. Your description of fluffier is spot on, and is a more delicate flavor. I loved it.

                        1. re: Silverjay

                          Hold on a second. I frequent many sushi shops in Japan. Unagi is one of my favorite choices. It's generally served in the summertime to revitalize. Maybe you didn't visit the shop at the right time of the year.

                          1. re: kansai_mike

                            HMMMM- pwned am I, I think- I should give anago another try!

                        2. re: John Manzo

                          Sorry you had bad experiences with Anago. It is quite good when prepared well

                        3. re: jfood

                          You might surprise yourself someday and find you like uni. I would not eat it for years, and now I love it, but only at extremely high-end places. I think it is partially an acquired taste, but also that low-grade uni tastes worse than, say low-grade tuna. Apparently almost all of the high grade uni goes for export to Japan, so it is hard to find the good stuff in this country.

                          1. re: omotosando

                            Omo, you might be right as my tastes have changed over the years.

                            1. re: omotosando

                              yeah you really have to have it at a decent place because if it's good, it's sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious. beware gray uni.

                        4. re: leanneabe

                          Always been like that. Sushi implies vinagared rice. Some sushi--more "modern" to boot--may have sashimi.

                        5. Very helpful folks-thank you and one more question. One of the diners said that perhaps we could just get bento (?) boxes and bring them back. Are these just sushi assortments?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Velma

                            assortments, which also usually have non-sushi items like tempura (deep-fried battered veg and/or fish). also they often have rice and teriyaki. it's kind of like a grab-bag.

                            1. re: Velma

                              Think of bento-boxes as the Japanese/sushi version of that old-classic Swanson TV dinner ...

                              You'll get some sushi, some sashimi, rice, maybe a teriyaki dish of some sort, salad, etc.

                              See picture below.

                               
                            2. Sushi = vinagared rice prepared in different ways, including with sashimi on top
                              Sashimi = raw fish or seafood
                              Bento box = lunch box with compartments, may or may not have sushi or sashimi

                              1. Yes uni is more of an acquired taste... definately do not wish to confuse the two.

                                1. If you're going to a typical American-style sushi bar, after you're safely back in the office you can disdainfully sniff, "I thought we were going out for real sushi...What's up with all those ROLLS?!"

                                  heh.

                                  1. Again, is it sushi or sashimi that your co-workers think is a weird thing to eat?

                                    1. I am confused, apparently you eat "weird" foods (according to your coworkers), but you've never had sushi.

                                      so what do you eat that is so weird to your coworkers?

                                      bento box is just a lunch box. It can have sushi or sashimi in it or it can have something entirely different.

                                      1. I think the best way to start eating Sushi is to start off with rolls. Maybe something simple like a california roll which has no fish in it. And then slowly move up to rolls with fish in it. The taste of raw fish will not overpower in a roll, but the familiarity of the other ingredients in a roll(because you've tried a nonfish roll) will help ease you into it. Once you've passed that, you can move onto sashimi, which are the large slabs of raw fish on top of rice.

                                        Be selectful with the types of fish you start with, because some have stronger effects non the palette. Tuna and salmon are good starters, and then if you're willing to spend it, Toro is great. Toro is just very very fatty tuna, so it's incredibly delicious and just melts in your mouth. After those, you can try some of the more fishy fishes.

                                        http://damnedgoodfood.blogspot.com

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: GurglingStomach

                                          a california roll has that fake *crab* surimi in it, which is usually pollock.

                                          "sashimi" is not served over rice. that's sushi.

                                          there are very mild whitefishes, like fluke and tilefish, that are great introductions for beginners. scallop sashimi is sweet and clean and to die for.

                                          i'm still scratching my head over whom, in this day and age, considers sushi "weird food."

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            I agree about the mild fishes...I think most fish are pretty mild unless you are eating something oily or high in fat like perhaps mackerel or uni? both delicious

                                            I agree about the sushi being weird food comment. I don't think Ive met anyone who hasn't tried sushi. More people tend to steer away from sashimi, because its just raw fish..there aren't any flavours to mask the taste like say spicy mayo in a tuna roll for example.

                                            nothing is better then slices of fresh sashimi, sometimes you don't even need to dip them in anything (: at times I will greedy and stuff my mouth with a few pieces of plain fish - very rude

                                            1. re: bitsubeats

                                              We traditionally eat sashimi with hot gohan with a shoyo-wasabi dip on the side.

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                oh yes thats good, but sometimes I like it plain. in korea we eat it with a gochujang based sauce which is also nice and sometimes it is wrapped in perilla leaves which are pretty similar to shiso leaves

                                            2. re: hotoynoodle

                                              I'm wondering whether the OP is in a small rural town....Even suburban sprawl has sushi restaurants now, so maybe it's somewhere more removed....

                                              Also -- those of us in major coastal cities sometimes forget: Our culinary habits can be pretty different from folks in the heartland...It might be a lot to assume that *everyone* has had sushi....

                                              1. re: Neely_Ohara

                                                in fairness, i agree, and i do live in boston. but my first sushi dinner was 20 years ago!

                                                1. re: Neely_Ohara

                                                  True. Also, exposure to "different" foods can also be a matter of choosing to live a fairly sheltered/limited life and being around those who do the same. My in-laws have lived in Philadelphia all of their lives and neither has had sushi. if we bring some sushi take out we're met with comments like "that's so disgusting I can't even be in the same room as that" and "that just makes me sick." They can't bring themselves to consider enjoying raw fish, or seaweed for that matter. I'm sure there are lots more like them.

                                                  1. re: nc213

                                                    Oh, definitely. I think part of this is a generational thing. My father is similar to your in-laws, though not nearly as extreme. He's also from the Philly area, and worked in NYC for part of his career, and he's now in Florida on the coast, so he hasn't been "food-sheltered." But he's NOT very adventurous when it comes to Asian foods, Middle Eastern foods, Mexican food, even European food (other than basic Italian with red sauce).

                                                    Here's something that the whole family remembers: A few years ago we went on a family trip to Hawaii -- lots of seafood the entire trip, various WAS a good sport and tried to eat some of it. But on the last night, there was a children's buffet with hot dogs, corn dogs, burgers, etc., and he very happily and publicly opted for that, rather than anything else on the menu. We could all see how relieved he was!

                                                    1. re: Neely_Ohara

                                                      If you were older than 39 when sushi was first introduced in your city or town, you don't eat it, according to neurobiologist/writer Robert Sapolsky.

                                                      http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/q...

                                                2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  I fail to understand the popularity of it, honestly. Every time I've ever tried it it comes across as anywhere from distasteful to disgusting to dowright vile. And I live on the coast, so it ought to be fresh. It is about the most unappealing thing I can imagine ordering when I go out to eat.

                                                  I don't mind things like scallop ceviche, which isn't heat-cooked. But some of the things that get put in front of me at a sushi place literally make me nauseous when I put them in my mouth. So I do consider it weird in a sense, because I don't think I'm a particularly picky eater but can't abide sushi, and am perpetually suspicious that a lot of its popularity is due to trendiness rather than genuine likability.

                                                  1. re: Greg B

                                                    I have an old friend who thinks such silly things, that if he doesn't like something it must be inherently disgusting and everyone else must be pretending to like it. Of course, he is the single pickiest eater I've ever known, and that's saying something. He would never, ever admit it, of course...

                                                    Japanese folk were eating sushi when many Westerners were still running around in uncured animals skins! Or something like that...

                                                    Good sushi is divine. No food loved by a billion people is popular due to "trendiness". For the record, by some twist of fate, I first tried sushi without knowing exactly what I was eating, and it was a profound thing. There were 6 or so of us having the same experience. It was like stumbling upon a magical new world, all of us standing there with huge grins on our faces, asking each other what the heck this stuff was, and the guy making it couldn't tell us because of the language barrier. Fun stuff.

                                                    1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                      I agree that good sushi is divine. I wonder, however, if Greg B has ever had good sushi, which is getting harder and harder to find as sushi becomes more popular.

                                                      I was wondering recently why so much sushi today is so bad and then I chanced upon an article that explained that it was in the late 1990's that they developed a process whereby tuna is sprayed with carbon monoxide (CO), which keeps it pink even when it is really old and past its prime and that most sushi bars use CO-treated tuna.

                                                      http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/06/din...
                                                      http://www.coastalseafoods.com/about/...

                                                      CO as an additive to fish has been banned in Japan, Canada and the European Union, but the FDA claims it's perfectly safe.

                                                      It may be perfectly safe, but that would probably explain why unless you are in a really expensive sushi bar, the tuna does not taste as good as it used to in the early 1990`s. Perhaps Greg B has only had CO-treated raw fish.

                                                      1. re: omotosando

                                                        You're probably right. Bad sushi is a very bad thing. Can't blame someone for not liking it.

                                                        The only really good sushi bar here in Athens was long ago abandoned by the original Japanese owners due to lack of sufficient demand for the good stuff, and the remaining four (!) places that serve it make the majority of their profits on other Japanese-style foods. But this is a college town pop. 130,000, so the fact that we have four places serving sushi at all is saying something....

                                                    2. re: Greg B

                                                      In my case, I first ate raw tuna as part of a combo plate at a Japanese restaurant when visiting in San Francisco in 1982 (before sushi was so fashionable). The first time I put a piece into my mouth it was like tasting heaven. Love at first bite!

                                                      My dining companion, like you, couldn't get past the thought, so I ended up eating all of hers as well. It is still my single favorite food though I must admit that these days there is a lot of foul sushi in supermarkets and bad restaurants.

                                                      ed

                                                  2. re: GurglingStomach

                                                    California rolls do have fish in them, just not raw fish. The imitation crab stick is made from surimi which is typically Alaskan pollock. Some places offer "real" crab or crab salad as an alternative.
                                                    The slabs of raw fish served on clumps of rice is nigiri-zushi where the rolls are maki-zushi. Sashimi is typically served layered over daikon.

                                                  3. The link mentioned in the very first post is a VERY good one for sushi info, FAQ and good pics.

                                                    I suggest a look at it for everyone. :)

                                                    1. I still don't know if the OP was talking about sushi or sashimi. It is also clear that a lot of responses seem to be talking about sashimi when referring to sushi. Velma, where are you?

                                                      1. Sorry, I'm back! Let me clarify-I do live in the midwest in a somewhat rural area and sushi is not all that common. I personally have never had the opportunity to try any of it-sushi or sashimi. I didn't even realize the distinction until I started reading the posts on here. As far as weird food goes, I'm in the middle of the meat and potatoes belt. So, weird for my co-workers is when I bring in for lunch: hummus, baba ganoush, wasabi peas, pungent cheese, spicy thai food, smoked trout and crackers, roquefort mousse, etc...Anything beyond hamburgers and french fries is "weird" for these guys except for a select few who I guess have found me! I hope that sort of makes sense. And I really appreciate all the wonderful discussion here. I feel like I'm armed to go out and sort my way through my first sushi meal.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: Velma

                                                          Good on you. Nice reply--it clarifies the situation. Your lunch foods are great. Let us know if you eventually convert anyone out there in the meat and potatoes belt. Now if I could only figure out the white car business.

                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            The white car is too small to be fully appreciated on here and I haven't changed it yet. It was a car I saw in a local gas station parking lot that was loaded down beyond belief. It was like when Fred packed the car for the I Love Lucy trip to California but the point is lost here.

                                                            1. re: Velma

                                                              Love dogs, but liked the car better...really funny. Looked like it had some heavy, weird stuff growing out of it.

                                                          2. re: Velma

                                                            Hey, there's something to be said about good ole' meat and potatos. But I can't help recall an interview with Ichiro Suzuki when he was asked about the worst city and place in the US for Japanese food and he said without a doubt it was Kansas City, Missouri and the mid-West in general.

                                                            1. re: Velma

                                                              you don't have weird taste, you have good taste!

                                                              now tell me more about this "roquefort mousse" Sounds very dipable (is that a word?) and spreadable.

                                                              Im confused that your coworkers think hummus, good cheese, and thai food is weird but sushi isn't? After they take you out for sushi you should introduce them to some of the foods you eat

                                                              1. re: bitsubeats

                                                                I'm sorry if this post was confusing-I didn't mean it to be! I meant that the people I work the closest with day in and day out are the ones who accuse me of eating weird things. No, they would not touch sushi with a ten foot pole. However, my reputation for eating "weird" things kind of spread through the building and reached this small group of people who enjoy more adventurous eating. We have sort of found each other I guess you could say. Sort of like the office smokers who manage to find each other! I had roquefort mousse ten years ago in England and it was out of this world. That place has long since shut down and I have been trying to recreate it ever since. This recipe is as close as I've gotten. I had to use gorgonzola once instead of roquefort cheese and it just about shut my poor husband down:

                                                                http://www.yanuq.com/english/buscador...