Debunking Sushi Misconceptions

Sushi has a special place in most foodies’ hearts. The traditional Asian dish is nice to look at and a culinary treat that delights diners all over the globe.

Despite its popularity, however, there are many misconceptions about sushi – we’ve compiled a short list of the most common ones.

1. Myth: Always use soy sauce

Soy sauce is a tasty condiment that’s been on the menu for thousands of years. Made from a combination of brine, roasted grain, Aspergillus molds and the by-product of fermented soybeans, this sauce originated in China around the time of the Western Han dynasty – from 206 BC to 220 AD.

Many customers default to dipping their sushi into soy sauce, but its saltiness often overpowers the delicate flavours of the sushi itself. Expert sushi chefs dilute the sauce, producing nikiri – a subtler flavour.

2. Myth: Japanese people eat a lot of sushi

As we’ve said, sushi didn’t actually originate solely in Japan. When it comes to eating sushi, people around the globe have been tucking into the dish since the early 1900s, when the USA became home to Japanese immigrants fleeing the Meiji Restoration.

Surveys, however, have shown that Japanese people eat a similar amount or less than people in the western world.

3. Myth: Sake and wasabi are essential with sushi

Despite the fact that most Japanese people don’t eat sushi every week, they know better than anyone how to prepare it – and what to have with it. Drinks wise, many people default to Sake. Sake is a rice product, which doesn’t actually add to the flavour of sushi that already contains a good portion of the grain. The beverages traditionally favoured by sushi connoisseurs are usually beer or green tea.

When it comes to sauces, many diners go for wasabi ; sometimes purely for the novelty aspect. Wasabi, however, was not meant to be added to all kinds of sushi – at least not in large quantities. Sushi chefs prepare the dish with care and most sushi already contains wasabi, so when you add extra you run the risk of obliterating the flavour of whatever titbit you’re eating. Sashimi is the one exception: adding a little wasabi and soy sauce right before popping it into your mouth enhances flavour.

4. Myth: Sushi is healthy

The idea that sushi is healthy isn’t totally incorrect, but it’s important to bear in mind that the sushi we eat in the West is vastly different to the dish eaten a couple of thousand years ago. Fish, rice and seaweed sounds like a wholesome dish, right? Unfortunately, the basic ingredients of previous centuries have largely been replaced with industrially farmed fish, white rice cooked with sugar, and fatty sauces that weren’t around when sushi was invented.

5. Myth: You must eat sushi with chopsticks

If you glance around a sushi restaurant in a western country, you’ll probably see a lot of chopsticks. It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that sushi is meant to be eaten with your hands and not the traditional East Asian utensils.

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