Sushi is one of the most popular meals in the world, being eaten by millions of people across the globe on any given day. It can be found at a range of different places, from dedicated sushi bars to small plastic containers at the local supermarket.
Not all sushi is the same, however, and it can take a bit of deductive work to figure out if a plate of sushi is really worth its asking price.
Here we will break down what sets good sushi apart from the mundane offerings, and how to know whether the menu price is justified or not.
The topping on sushi is traditionally known as neta among the Japanese, and can make a huge difference to the overall taste and texture of the sushi.
The neta should be a size that proportionate to the rice, which means that it shouldn’t be either too big or too small. One of the most common toppings is wasabi, and when it’s used, it should be found between the neta and the rice, rather than being poured all over the top.
Rice is a quintessential ingredient used in almost all sushi recipes, but the type of rice and how it’s cooked and served is a great indicator of whether the chef knows what they are doing or not. For most sushi dishes, a soft, white rice is most likely to be used, and this is because white rice tends to be easier to work with, and makes for a softer, stickier addition.
A quality sushi dish will always be served at body temperature; never too hot or too cold. It should also always be quite sticky, usually enough that it can hold together quite well when it’s picked up. A good chef will make sure that it’s not too sticky, though, as that can make it lumpy and unpleasant.
When sushi rice is prepared, it will usually be put under pressure to ensure that it sticks together well, which leaves the rice being denser on the outside and softer on the inside.
It’s a fine art that can take a sushi chefs years to get right, and it may mean having to sit and wait while making sure you don’t miss these betting offers, but anyone with a taste for the dish will immediately be able to tell the difference.
If the fish found in a sushi dish has a fishy smell, that means that something is off. A chef will always sprinkle a bit of vinegar on top of the fish to neutralise the smell, which can very easily overpower the dish if not taken care of.
The process of adding the vinegar is known as su-jime, and it’s something that an experience chef will know without question; meaning that a fishy-smelling sushi dish is a tell-tale sign that something’s off. Shio-jime is the addition of salt to the fish to reduce the amount of moisture, which leaves the fish as both shiny and firm, rather than wet or oily.
The end result will be a great and clean-tasting fish that works well with the other elements in the meal.