Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of cooked rice with vinegar (su-meshi) combined with other ingredients (neta), seafood, such as eel, tuna, shad, haddock, shrimp or octopus and vegetables. Ingredients and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is rice (also referred to as shari).
Nigiri-zushi is prepared using two main ingredients, fresh fish and sushi rice (su-meshi). The su-meshi is formed into a small clump by using the hands. The fish is then sliced and pressed on the rice. Depending on the type of fish used on the sushi, it may be served in slices of raw, fried or grilled fish. Since the fish will be served raw and will be on display, the cooks have to select the highest quality fish. This is to ensure that the sushi is healthy and aesthetically pleasing.
Originally, sushi was supposed to be eaten with a hand. It is still acceptable to use your hand while eating it. Since you are supposed to dip a piece of the fish in the soy sauce, it would be difficult to achieve with the chopsticks.
MAKI (maki-zushi or nori-maki)
Maki-zushi refers to the fact that the sushi is rolled, where “maki”, means “to roll”. Japanese sushi roll filled with various fillings. Maki-zushi is also referred to “nori-maki”, because the su-meshi and fillings are all wrapped up in a sheet of dried seaweed “nori”. Maki-zushi can also refer to larger or fatter sushi rolls, such as futomaki and on the other hand, thin sushi rolls are referred to as “hosomaki”.
Some classic and popular versions of thin maki-zushi sushi include: Tekka-maki (raw tuna sashimi rolls) Kappa-maki (cucumber rolls) Shinko-maki (takuan, yellow pickled daikon rolls).
INARI (inari-zushi or o-inari-san)
When you visit shrines, you will often see fox statues there. The fox is the messenger of the Goddess of Cereals and Farm Products, Uga-no-Mitama-no-Kami. The shrines which are dedicated to the Goddess, all have the fox as a messenger. We call the shrine O-inari-San shrine. The biggest and oldest one is the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. It was built in 711. Vermilion is the color most commonly found at the O-Inari-San shrines. It is one of the oldest colors in Japan, and the Torii, at all the shrines, will usually be vermilion.
The fox is very fond of fried tofu, and a common type of sushi, made with sushi rice wrapped up in fried tofu, is called Inari. Fried tofu is often given to the shrine as a food offering. The flavor of inari-zushi is essentially the flavor of the sushi rice, although this version includes sesame seeds and others also include vegetables such as carrots with the rice.
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