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Apr 20, 2014 01:02 PM

Maki: Are any of these ingredients ever seen in Japan?

I don't know enough about Japan to understand the extent to which international trends may have reached sushi bars there; seems as though reports are mixed. So I have a few questions for the experts out there:

Wrapping. Are things like soy paper and cucumber ever used to wrap maki in Japan, or is that strictly a Western thing?

Fillings. I believe that in Japan, most maki contains tuna or vegetables (incl. pickles), natto etc. (though please correct me if I'm wrong). Is the use of other types of fish/shellfish pretty rare? What about fruit, like mango, which you see a lot in the States?

Sauces: Are drizzled sauces of any type ever served on maki in Japan?

Finally, if anyone has a resource they really trust on sushi - book or website - I'd be much obliged. It's a subject on which I feel woefully undereducated even after all these years!

Edit: I did see this earlier thread but looking for more elaboration.

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  1. Focusing more on kaitenzushi (the conveyor belt sushi restaurants) in Japan, wrappings such as those you mentioned and most sauces would only be found at Americanized sushi places. However, the average kaitenzushi offers up at least a couple of "sarada" rolls - i.e., with mayonnaise. Tuna/corn and mayo, ikura and mayo, ebi and mayo, to name a few. I may have seen fruit nigiri once, but that's definitely not common either.

    Maki with vegetables, many types of fish, shellfish, roe, and raw meat are common entries on a plate on the conveyor belt. Sometimes, even "cheese" will be present. More and more I've seen avocado mixed with other things - avocado and natto, and my new favorite is avocado with spicy mentaiko (marinated cod roe).


    1 Reply
    1. re: BuildingMyBento

      Interesting, thanks! Tuna and corn—where did that come from? You see that combo (without cheese) on pizzas in Italy sometimes…

      The other day I had a peanut-avocado roll at a place here in Denver. I don't think I've never seen nuts before—I'm assuming that's uncommon.

      What about cooked meat? Is negimaki a Western thing, or did it originate in Japan?

      Oh, and what about wrappings, particularly soy paper?

      And what about brown rice?

      Not putting you in particular on the spot here, it's just that every answer leads to more questions! It's like after 30 years of sushi eating and doing some research here and elsewhere, I realize I'm still not all that clear on several aspects, just on the fundamentals.

    2. Japan is both a very traditional and a very adventurous food culture. So go to a traditional sushi/sashimi place and it will be really pure, really traditional. But head to a more fashionable/trendy place and anything goes.

      Japan is quite a food centric society and that means people take the traditions seriously, but also look for novelty and new tastes so there is lots of innovation and lots of international influence.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        Thanks! So in your view you could theoretically find anything in/on sushi in Japan, so long as the place was untraditional?

        1. re: tatamagouche

          I found the department store food courts and some of the supermarkets to have an incredible amount of variety. You should check them out. Prices were generally reasonable too.

      2. Although nori is the most commonplace wrapping, the others you mentioned are traditional also. In additon, shiso (perilla leaves) are an alternative.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve

          Thank you!! How I love shiso. And ume. And ume-shiso.