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Beginner’s Guide to Sushi For International Sushi Day

Sushi
Photo: John Riggs
I love sushi, but I didn’t always love sushi. I think it’s important that I say that because eating sushi is usually a result of peer pressure. Don’t worry, there’s good peer pressure and bad peer pressure and making your friend try sushi for the first time is a form of good peer pressure as far as I’m concerned. Are you still a little weirded out by eating what you think is raw fish (which isn’t always the case) but still want to try it just so you can say you did? Here’s my beginner’s guide to trying sushi for the first time.

Not All Sushi Is Raw Fish

We can get that out of the way immediately so you won’t have that excuse. Yes, of course, some of it can have raw fish, but many don’t. They have shrimp that’s basically like eating a flattened cocktail shrimp on a bed of rice. Unagi is broiled eel while, yes, it’s eel, it’s broiled in a teriyaki-like glaze and very tasty.

What Should I Try First?

California Rolls don’t have any raw fish in it. It’s simply cucumber, avocado and imitation crab wrapped in rice. If you’re still not sure, every place I’ve ever went to has cucumber rolls that are nothing but cucumber wrapped in rice with that seaweed wrap around it. As much as I love sushi, I’ll still often times get cucumber rolls, too. They’re usually the cheapest thing on the menu.

Don’t Get Sushi From Any Heat Lamp Buffet

It may be fine, but I sure wouldn’t trust it. Sushi is only good when it’s super fresh. I don’t have a clue how long that’s been sitting there so I’m not touching it. Same goes for most grocery stores, although Fred Meyer has a sushi counter next to the deli that isn’t bad.

How To Eat It

Sushi is finger food so you can use your hands if you’d like. I still use chopsticks, but your hands work just as well. It’s also made to be bite sized so pop the whole thing in your mouth all at once. Sushi is an art form so biting into it is considered bad manners. You can dip it in soy sauce if you’d like, which I always do. Properly, you’re supposed to only dip the fish or whatever topping into the soy sauce leaving the rice alone, but I dip the rice because I can. It’s my food, I’ll eat it my way. I also won’t complain if you bite into it, but you may get some dirty looks from the kitchen.

What Are Those Little Orange Thingies On California Rolls?

Fish eggs. You can barely taste them unless you put them directly on your tongue. They taste like salt and add an awesome flavor. I wouldn’t eat them by themselves like my wife can, but they’re fine. I’m sure you’d be okay if you scraped them off, though.

What is that green clay-looking stuff and those pink sheets of whatever that smell weird?

The green stuff is wasabi. No doubt you’ve heard of wasabi. Basically, it’s Japanese horseradish. Super hot so if you want to bring a little heat to the party, just a little bit will go along way. I love the flavor, but the heat even gets to me sometimes so us it sparingly – especially at first. The pink (and sometimes white) stuff is pickled ginger. It’s there to cleanse your palette after each sushi. I’ll have some sometimes, but I usually skip it.

Why Is It So Expensive?

My answer, “because it’s worth it!” But the honest answer is probably because it’s an art form and because the ingredients have to be super fresh so most places have their seafood flown in often. I’m sure the price of that cargo isn’t cheap. You can learn to make it at home very easily for much cheaper, but it’s fun to splurge and have someone else do it for you. That and I can’t buy some of these ingredients at most stores – especially in Yakima.

Where Can I Find Sushi In Yakima?

There are a few places that are completely decent. The most popular may be Ozeki on 16th and Summitview. Huge selection and you can sit right at the sushi bar to watch the sushi chef make it for you. I prefer sitting here so I can get tips on how to make my own at home. I’m always at New York Teriyaki which may be a little less expensive and still totally edible. Both places have Sushi combos which come with a little of the most popular things so if you wanted to give something a try, that may be a good idea. As I mentioned, there’s also the Fred Meyer sushi deli case. Make sure you’re getting it from the place clearly marked SUSHI and not in some other weird section of the store as that stuff has mostly likely been previously frozen and I wouldn’t touch it. Correction, I have touched it, but will never touch it again. If there’s another place in Yakima that sells sushi, let me know and I’ll give it a shot.

So, not that I’m an expert, but I do enjoy sushi as often as I can. If you have any questions that you can’t find anywhere else, drop me an email and I’ll be completely honest with you.


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