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Never Had Sushi

I've never tried Sushi. I would like to but not sure where to start. Of course where I live, it's not available. Eating raw fish kinda makes me cringe, but I know not all Sushi is that way. What would you recommend for a Sushi virgin?

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  1. I would probably start with rolls - you are not staring a big piece of raw fish - I would look at Kappa Maki it is a cucumber roll - California roll and if you want to try the raw fish maybe Tekka Maki (raw tuna roll) or a salmon roll -

    1 Reply
    1. re: weinstein5

      I would add Unagi Maki (teriyaki eel and cuke) and lots of places have veg. options as well like Oshinko Maki (pickled daikon)

      go easy on the wasabi and ginger.

      if you dive into the sashimi - Maguro (tuna) is soooo good.

      and by all means save anything with Uni (sea urchin) until you're confident and somewhere that it's perfectly fresh. It can be really good, but better left for later. took me years to try it again, now I love it.

    2. Along with what weinstein mentioned, shrimp is generally served cooked (not always). You've also got eel and omelet. And there are some other rolls that feature cooked ingredients like dragon and spider roll. So you've got some options before you make it into raw territory. I'm sure your server can also steer you in the right direction.

      1. This is a common theme on this board. Check out these two recent links:

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478500
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397771

        Although sushi generally means items with raw OR cooked items with vinegered rice, which can be seafood, vegetable, egg, etc., it really comes down to raw fish. Dragon, spider, and super-monkey-mayonnaise-thingamabob-maki rolls are only barely sushi and are most certainly, not Japanese ethnic dining.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Silverjay

          Did you ever enjoy the Empire of Signs (R. Barthes) ...
          if not, you might seek it out ... I particularly like his take on "rice".

        2. I was lucky the 1st time I ever had sushi. I was with a Japanese friend. I went with nigiri with tuna & salmon(I love lox, so that wan't a stretch). They did convince me to try uni my 1st time & I haven't been able to try it since. Let's just say the texture wasn't to my liking. That may also be why I can't stand maki. it's the seaweed...
          I also enjoy Tekka Don, which in my experience was just a steaming bowl of rice covered in lovely slices of raw tuna. mmmmmm. I say start out "simple".

          1. There are many people I know who won't eat sushi, but who love California rolls. It might be a good start if you truly have never had a taste of any kind of sushi (or if you're not sure about the quality of a sushi bar) but solely focusing on that is kind of like leaving a movie theater before the previews even finish. Mixed nigiri sushi plates are a good introduction to sushi because it is a combination of both cooked and raw foods, so you develop a taste for it and can decide for yourself what you like and what you don't like. As hill food mentioned though, go easy on the wasabi the first time you try it, especially if you're ordering sushi rolls, as these often have wasabi already in them. Wasabi is an acquired taste for some. I became addicted to it almost immediately, but then I already love Chinese hot mustard, which has a similar sort of intensity.

            5 Replies
            1. re: FoodieKat

              Funny. I've never seen wasabi in a roll. Nigiri -- yes (but less common now than 20 years ago).

              1. re: Miss Needle

                The Nigiri I had in sushi bars in the UK always had wasabi, and some of the sushi rolls too. But obviously that varies based on where you are.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  I made the mistake once of putting my usual portion of wasabi on the prepared rolls from a sushi bar. Thought my head was going to explode! And I am not shy about using wasabi either, so there must have already been quite a bit in the sushi itself. Now I always taste the sushi roll before I put wasabi on it, just in case.

                2. re: FoodieKat

                  I am now so addicted to wasabi to the point that if the cabinet is low I border on panic. and I don't even make sushi at home.

                  once had a roll at some mass market place in SF that was salmon roe marinated in wasabi until it was green and more wasabi rolled in - pow! I'm sure it and all the offerings were completely inauthentic, but if I need real, I guess I can just cart my happyass to Japan someday.

                  the nigiri or maki samplers are indeed a good way to start, maki to get used to some of the flavors and texture, nigiri for the more pure flavor.

                  if you don't like something you're only out a couple of bucks instead of plunging into a full order of sashimi.

                  Weezy: give uni a shot again, my first time was also one of my first tries at sushi in general, but now...(it was the texture thing for me too, but now I know what to expect)

                  1. re: hill food

                    My husband thinks I am insane every time we go out for sushi, because I eat so much wasabi I actually cry. I confess that is one reason why I often order sashimi - so I don't have too many tastes competing with the wasabi. I know that's not the point of eating sashimi, wasabi is only meant to be an accompaniment, yadda yadda yadda, I do it anyway. Anything wasabi-flavored appeals to me too - so long as it's not just some wimpy thing that's merely been dyed green (ugh)! I need that horseradish kick! :-)

                3. I'm really curious where you live that there is no sushi available. Are you planning t make it at home?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: harryharry

                    Laramie, Wyoming. If (when) I try it, I will be going to Denver (2 hours away)

                    1. re: jcattles

                      Ah - the Denver Lodo sushi happy hours. Such memories. Here's a few cooked items that all sushi places will generally have along with what's already been mentioned. And, by the way, they will more than likely have plenty of cooked Japanese food as well.

                      Ebi = steamed shrimp.
                      AMA ebi = raw or sometimes called "sweet" shrimp*
                      Unagi =broiled fresh water eel
                      Anago=broiled sea eel (more bony, but more flavorful)
                      They will almost always have a smoked salmon. It will almost always be labeled sake smoked (pronounced SHA-kay. Namasake will be raw salmon)
                      Tako = steamed octopus
                      kani = steamed crab
                      Ika = steamed cuttlefish. ( I think it's named because that's the sound it makes when you eat it!)

                      *Ama Ebi = translates to dancing shrimp. These are a trip if you can actually get them. Most of the time they just throw you a raw shrimp. I've had true ama ebi three times in my life. The chef grabs a shrimp out of a tank. and "filets" it on the spot. when served, the shrimp will still pulsate or "dance" on the tongue.

                      1. re: gordeaux

                        just fyi, odori ebi is the dancing (moving) shrimp. ama ebi is sweet shrimp. the japanese adjective for sweet is amai, but the i is dropped when paired with the ebi.

                      2. re: jcattles

                        Don't know why my original comment was deleted, but: if you're going to Denver, I highly recommend doing omakase at Sushi Sasa. Here's why: among about 8 or 9 dishes, fully 4 will be cooked (and there'll be a dessert), so you can ease yourself into it; what's more, the ones that aren't are sparkling clean in flavor. They don't throw urchin curveballs or anything; they stick to the milder, firmer stuff.

                        Or you could go to Izakaya Den, where you can alternate sushi/sashimi with fusion-style small plates. They also use fresh grated wasabi, which is pretty cool (& sinus-boggling).

                    2. You'll get a lot of great replies- I am not a raw fish pro but I LOVE what I consider GOOD (fresh) sushi rolls and sashimi.... That said, I will share this- DO NOT try sushi at any old grocery store or on a crappy Chinese food buffet. The pre-packaged "sushi" is GARBAGE. It's sweet, gluey rice wrapped around imitation krab and gives the good stuff a baaaaaaaad name. Please go to a nice place. Do searches for sushi on your state's board on this site. Don't get it at a piggly wiggly...... (they sell sushi-i read that someplace!)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Boccone Dolce

                        I like krab (or properly Surimi) but I'm aware it's just pressed white fish of various sources and don't kid myself for a second...

                      2. Just remember:

                        1. Most traditional sushi ("su" = vinegar, "shi" = rice) does not involve raw stuff ("sashimi"), but rather things like cucumber, mushroom, sliced omelette, cooked carrot, and the like. Inarizushi is seasoned rice with finely diced vegetables and mushrooms stuffed into a deep fried tofu skin.

                        2. We traditionally eat raw fish (sashimi of some fish) with hot steamed rice ("gohan").

                        3. Modern sushi that is now common consists of a bit of vinegared rice and raw fish or smoked eel. Very good as well.

                        1. Omelette, cucumber and cooked shrimp are easy first tries - you've probably had them all, just not on a pad or roll of rice with seaweed. California roll is cooked "crab" stick and avocado - creamy and mild and not raw.

                          If you like rare/raw beef, tuna is similar in taste and texture. Smoked salmon/lox translates into salmon.

                          I remember when I first tried sushi about 25 years ago. It became somewhat of a fad in NYC, where I lived. Until I actually tried it, I called sushi "bait". After my first time - had chirashi sushi - a bowl of sushi rice with slices of fish placed over it, I was hooked.

                          1. Everyone has such good suggestions. I started with crunchy rolls (fake crab/mayo mixture with tempura batter sprinkled on - well that's how they make them where I am) because I love crab. My friend showed me how to mix the wasabi in with the soy sauce. Other cooked rolls I enjoy are soft shell crab with eel sauce, and spicy crawfish rolls. Edamame is a yummy appetizer. It's salted, steamed soy beans and you kinda suck them out of the shell. Beef negi-maki is a fave of mine. It's cooked beef wrapped around a green onion in a thick teryaki sauce. I used to eat the raw stuff but I just lost my taste for it. Weird. Raw tuna rolls were a favorite of mine.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: mrsfury

                              Do as you wish, but mixing soy and wasabi is not the way to go imo. That's an Anglo affectation.

                              1. re: aelph

                                oh aelph, I rather doubt the English or even the WASPy are terribly fond of soy and wasabi on anything, maybe horseradish on roast beef or in a cream sauce packed with pickled herring or mackerel, but...

                                I'm guessing it's more of a US thing and our (my?) need to put condiments on things as we (I'm?) used to finding in a reg. place not simply or badly prepared things, just uninspired.

                                I'm sure I've horrified plenty of sushi chefs in my time.

                                I have been trying to cut back, but sometimes just can't resist. it's right there! they're the enablers!

                                1. re: hill food

                                  I knew there was a better term than "anglo" but my brain was fitzing at that moment. I have a dear friend who mixes soy and wasabi(I used to mix soy and wasabi, too)...and the comment to which I'm responding mentions being "taught" how to mix soy and wasabi implying that's the way to go about it with sushi. To each his own, but once I learned differently I was able to appreciate the individual flavors and uses for wasabi and soy in a sushi joint. By no means do I consider myself a font of sushi knowledge. I love sashimi and nigiri of all kinds, tho', have an adventurous palate, and am still inadvertantly freaking friends out by eating sushi by hand. In fact, the biggest obstacle I've had to overcome is a kneejerk dislike of maki.

                                  1. re: aelph

                                    Mixing wasabi and shoyu together is common in Japan for sashimi and not uncommon for sushi as well- though at most places the wasabi is provided on the nigiri. What is particularly American is the quantity and frequency that both are used- i.e. recieving a pile of it on your geta. Which is especially disappointing considering that most wasabi here is flavored and colored horse radish and the fact that many items that are traditionally not served with wasabi- i.e. bonita, eel, and many types of silver fish- people here have no inhibitions about piling it on.

                                    Traditionally (and usually in Japan), maki-mono are eaten at the end of a sushi meal as "stomach stuffers" or they are provided more as attractive presentation items for platters.

                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                      Thanks for the further insight :)

                                  2. re: hill food

                                    Actually, my husband happens to be English, and he DOES eat wasabi. He loves the stuff (but isn't addicted to it like I am). And just about any other kind of hot spicy food for that matter (Vindaloo is mild for him). As a matter of fact, many English and British people I know love spicy food. It's not just roast beef and Yorkshire pudding in England you know. ;)

                                    1. re: FoodieKat

                                      stereotypes exist to be blown apart...

                                      sort of why Margaret Cho is so funny, sweet little Asian girl with a vocabulary that could make a sailor blush...

                                      Emme poses a good question "and, what happens when you fall IN LOVE w/ sushi and get a craving and have to drive 2 hours..."

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        Yes, that's why I live to challenge those stereotypes, and laugh at them too.

                                        It is difficult once you've developed a taste for sushi, to the point of addiction. It sucks having to travel so far for it, but it's worth it. I had a similar experience living in Reading, England. For a town its size it was a pretty cosmopolitan place. Except for sushi. I could only find one restaurant out there that served 'real' sushi, and then it closed down (there was one other 'Japanese' restaurant that served sushi rolls, but the food was just awful - you could actually hear the microwave 'ding' in the kitchen while you were waiting for your meal- yikes!). So I had to travel over an hour by train and Tube each way into London just to get some decent sushi. I just had to do it though because it is so addictive.

                                        1. re: FoodieKat

                                          I can relate, spent some time in semi-rural KS in the 80's and although we could find nori, not much else and we'd improvise with all sorts of things. I think that's when I developed a taste for Surimi.

                                    2. re: hill food

                                      Sorry if I seemed snippy there - stereotypes about Brits and their food tastes (or lack thereof) is kind of a sensitive issue - as you can probably imagine.

                                      Back to the wasabi though; It's weird, but most of the sushi bars I frequented in Japan served wasabi that was that green color. Though it was admittedly much stronger than most wasabi I've had here in the US or elsewhere.

                                      1. re: FoodieKat

                                        More on wasabi:
                                        Even in Japan, much of the "wasabi" is also imitation or blended with only modest amounts of the real thing. Fresh, good quality wasabi, is not as overpowering or long lasting in effect as the imitation horseradish version. It also has a slight sweetness to it. Americanized maki-roll places are almost exclusively going to serve green horshradish mixes branded as "wasabi". The real thing is expensive and a proper chef would never pile mounds of it on to a plate to be mixed with whatever was served. The best situation is when you see the chef actually grating the root in front of you.

                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                          Hmm. In that case then, I don't think I've ever had the real thing. Now I really want to find this. I think my favorite itamae does fresh wasabi - but only if you sit at the sushi bar.

                                2. so many great suggestions here thus far.

                                  when i first tried sushi, i know i definitely had california roll, albacore sashimi, yellowtail nigiri (which i don't like but many love and it's very mild), and tamago. i have a feeling what's going to be hardest for you is adapting to the texture; it's smooth, i'd say, with yet a toothsome element. once you do, halibut is mild, as is snapper...

                                  in terms of rolls, you might try combining cooked and raw elements - shrimp, crab, and spicy scallop together is a lovely combo, and i prefer it wrapped in soy paper, as i do the majority of rolls (if you have an aversion to the fishy, ocean-y flavor of nori, try asking them to prepare cut rolls with soy paper).

                                  and, what happens when you fall IN LOVE w/ sushi and get a craving and have to drive 2 hours... you might just be moving to denver!

                                  happy sushi-ing... it just so feels so good on every level - the food feels clean going in and through your body and even the next day.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Emme

                                    Agreed, there's something very pleasant on a protein-level about eating sushi.

                                    1. re: Emme

                                      That is so true, and very well put.

                                    2. Definitely try a tempura or crunchy roll. They are very good, and an easy way to start out. And one thing I learned...the first time you go for the raw stuff, don't take it all in one bite. Trust me. I did that and ended up with a mouthful of a texture I could NOT abide but couldn't spit out, for the sake of etiquette. If you want to get adventurous on your first time out, give octopus a try.

                                      1. I'm confused by what you mean when you say it's not available where you live (does this mean you need to venture elsewhere far away).

                                        People have already made good suggestions (second the California roll, even though it's not real sushi by Japanese standards; however, it's good. :)).

                                        Someone mentioned shrimp-- I wouldn't do shrimp, b/c I have never had a good shrimp sushi in the U.S. They overcook the shrimp. Ditto squid.

                                        The spider/tempura rolls and other things that people mentioned are good (despite my complaint elsewhere that I don't like "adulterating" my sushi w/ sesame oil. Ha ha.).

                                        There are also lots of rolls with assorted things that are very good. Another thing that is not "real" sushi, but might be beginner-friendly is salmon. (Either smoked or raw.)

                                        Finally, when you do finally try raw, it's absolutely crucial to try somewhere that has fresh fish, b/c if you are already a bit wary of it, you do not want to try "so so" sushi. (You could troll your local chowhound board and find out where such a restaurant is.) We get pretty good sushi around here, but I still haven't found one as good as the places in Japan. So I often end up making my own.

                                        Good luck!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: anzu

                                          Yes he/she posted above about being in Laramie, WY - and having to go to Denver.