Skip to comments.How to Make Sushi [Dave Barry]
Posted on 04/17/2005 7:50:07 AM PDT by nuconvert
How to make sushi
BY DAVE BARRY
(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published on Nov. 29, 1998.)
Today's culinary topic is: How to make sushi. I happen to be an expert on this topic because I recently put in a stint as a chef at an actual sushi restaurant. (One of the first things you learn, as a sushi chef, is how to put in a stint.)
Before I give you the details, I should explain, for the benefit of those of you who live in remote wilderness regions such as Iowa, what sushi is. Basically, it is a type of cuisine developed by the Japanese as part of an ancient tradition of seeing what is the scariest thing they can get you to eat raw.
The way they do this is, they start out by serving you a nice, non-threatening piece of fish, from which all the identifying fish parts have been removed. This fish is safe to eat and tasty. But the trick is that it's served with a green condiment called ''wasabi,'' which is the Japanese word for ''nuclear horseradish.'' This is an extremely spicy substance, the formula for which must never be allowed to fall into the hands of Saddam Hussein. If you put more than two wasabi molecules on your sushi and eat it, your hair will burst into flames.
So after consuming some wasabi, you naturally order a cool, refreshing Japanese beer to pour on your head and perhaps, since you have the bottle in your hand anyway, wet your whistle with. The result is that your judgment becomes impaired, which is when they start trying to get you to eat prank food, such as sea-urchin eggs.
Sea urchins are vicious, golf-ball shaped, poison-spined sea creatures whose sole ecological purpose is to ruin your tropical vacation by deliberately not getting out of your way when you are wading barefoot. If you eat the eggs of this animal, and fail to chew them thoroughly, you could develop an alarming medical condition that doctors call ``baby sea urchins walking around inside your body poking holes in your spleen.''
Other prank foods that they will try to get you to eat at sushi bars include eels, clam parts, jellyfish, tentacles with flagrant suckers, and shrimps with their eyeballs still waving around on stalks. If you eat those, the waiter will become brazen and start bringing out chunks of coral and live electric eels.
My point is that, in a sushi restaurant, you must watch carefully what you eat. (This is exactly what ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' is referring to when it says, ''o'er the clam parts we watched.'' )
Despite this, I happen to be a big fan of non-prank sushi. And so when Bok An, the proprietor of Sakura, my local sushi restaurant in Coral Gables, Fla., invited me to be a guest sushi chef, I enthusiastically answered: ''No!'' I was afraid that I'd have to touch an eel. I am 51 years old, and I did not get this far by touching eels. But Bok assured me that we would stick to basic fish species such as tuna, salmon and cucumber.
And thus I found myself one Tuesday night, wearing a samurai-style headband and standing behind the sushi bar, blending in perfectly with the other sushi chefs, except that my headband was actually the belt of my bathrobe. Bok stood next to me and prepared various sushi items, and I attempted to imitate him.
Here's the recipe: You start with a little rectangle made of dried seaweed (I asked Bok where the seaweed comes from, thinking he would name some ancient Japanese seaside village, and he said, ``a distributor''). Then you pick up a glob of special sticky rice and spread it evenly on the seaweed. At least Bok did. The majority of my rice remained firmly stuck to my hands and started migrating to other parts of my body. I may have to have it removed surgically.
Next, you cut up your ingredients, using a lethal-looking, extremely sharp sushi knife that causes professional sushi chefs to become very nervous when it is being wielded by a professional humor columnist. Then you put these ingredients on the rice and execute the secret sushi-rolling technique, which is difficult to describe in English words, as we can see by this actual transcript of Bok explaining it to me: ``OK, you go like this, Boom! Then you go, Boom! Boom! Boom!''
The thing was, when Bok went boom, he produced this attractive, appetizing cylinder of sushi. Whereas when I went boom, I produced this mutant food unit leaking random seafood parts. I also had a problem with my sizing: Sushi rolls are supposed to be small, bite-size morsels; mine were more along the lines of seaweed-covered hams. But I kept trying.
Remember the movie ''Karate Kid,'' where the mean bully beats up Ralph Macchio, but then Ralph studies karate under Mr. Miyagi, and then finally, in the big tournament, with everybody watching, Ralph stuns the bully by rolling a reasonably tight cucumber roll? Well, that's what I did. In fact, I may have a knack for it.
So if one day you walk into a Japanese restaurant, and you see, standing behind the sushi bar, what appears to be a man-size blob of rice wearing a blue bathrobe belt on its head, feel free to say hi. But keep your distance if I'm holding a knife.
uuuhhh... i thought sushi was rice rolls and that sushimi was raw fish???
I never understood why someone would take good bait and eat it raw, when all they would have to do is put some on a hook and catch a perfectly good food fish, broil it, bake it, or fry it and have a feast. ;)
I am not a sushi fan, as I dislike all the rice,seaweed etc wraps with it; but am a big sashimi fan with wasabi and soy sauce mixed.. Fresh Water Eel (Unagi) and tuna are my favorites! Wasabi peanuts (Trader Joes) wasabi are great as well. I prefer those over the Wasabi peas.
I never out in a stint as a sushi chef, but I did get into a friendly sword fight with a sushi chef in the parking lot behind the restaurant one night in 1990 -- back when I was studying the Korean zen sword art of Shim Gum Do.
I was a regular customer at the Sho Gun restaurant back then, and got friendly with the chef. It turned out that he had been a student of Kendo (Japanese Sword), and one night we decided to go at it with a pair of wooden swords during his break to compare styles.
I don't know if it's fair to say that I won the encounter, but he quit before I did.
Yes you are right..sushimi is raw and sushi is usually wrapped in "rice or vegetation" of some kind.
I'm afaid I live in a remote wilderness region where the fish is only sushi until it is cooked.
You sound like my husband..............
I eat sushi a few times a year, but I only get the California rolls to be safe. There's something about eating raw fish that grosses me out. It's the texture of it when it's raw.
You know you put too much wasabi on your sushi when your eyes start to water and your nose starts to burn.
Dave Barry is 58? wow I thought he was like 45 or something. On a sidenote not related to his age, he is so funny!
I like that fact that he doesn't talk down to his readers. Even those of us in remote wilderness regions. LOL
LOL yeah- I grew up in Iowa and now live in wisconsin. I resemble that remark! lol
True, except that most sushi does include raw fish.
I LOOOOOOVE sushi, and have it at least once a week. Spider rolls (soft shell crab with sprouts, lettuce and wasabi mayo) and any thing with salmon are my faves. There are several good sushi places here in Minneapolis, and when I returned home to Canada this Christmas, my dad asked me if I was eating more oriental food. I said yes, and asked how he knew, and he said that my weight gain was consistent with a rice-based diet. For the record, my dad is an endrocrinologist, so he gets paid to notice these things.
There's also maki-sushi, which is the typical rolled type.
In this picture, the stuff on the left is maki-sushi and the stuff on the right is nigiri-sushi.
That is too funny!!!
Wasabi is nothing more than horseradish dyed green and a zillion dollars less. Yes, it is tasty, like horseradish dyed green.
If one more person tells me that "it tastes so good" I am going to scream. Maybe it is because I come from the land of brown muddy (and polluted) water, but fish needs to be cooked.
Yup, that's how I feel about raw clams and oysters, too.....bait.
I would try it if I could afford it. We all have to die sometime.
Dave meets sushi, pong
What is he talking about? Fresh Wasabi is good stuff, its not that hot! ...what a wimp. ...Now, Habanero Peppers are hot.
Shellfish is the only sushi I refuse to touch...well that, and the Spam nigiri they had in Hawaii (the mahi mahi sushi, however, was great). Although I enjoy octopus, I always feel guilty about eating such an intelligent creature.
Another place that was supposed to be THE sushi spot locally was on A Street in Hayward.
Their sushi was ok but the best dish in the joint was called beef foilyaki. Never heard of it before and never seen it anywhere but there. Mmmm.
I keep waiting for the inevitable scene in some Farrelly brothers movie where a character pretends to have a cold, and stuffs wasabi up his nose to simulate snot...
When I was in New Zealand, all the sushi places were run by Koreans.
An interesting statement from an endocrinologist.
Is he referring just to rice or to all complex carbohydrates?
The only raw sea creatures I don't eat (so far) is the
salmon (cuz it can migrate to fresh water, where parasites
can get in), eel, octopi, and a few others....
But since the world is getting so polluted, and you never
know who the "distributor" is...I feel a little less comfortable
eating everything raw...so now I tend to get that phoney
"crab" sushi stuff..also I notice some sushi bars now
cook the fish, and put in or on top of the rice section...
Wasabi is very good.. I love the way it hits your head,
then travels to the tip of your nose, and then your
head blows up, and then it subsides...
Actually I think most people like the sushi cuz of the
soy sauce, and a bit of wasabi...cause sushi,by itself,
doesn't taste THAT good.
Just rice. For some reason, it retains vitamins and proteins in other foods eaten along with it, allowing for them to be absorbed more efficiently. He says that in my case, he thinks I have celiac disease (there's a family history, and I have some symptoms, although every test I have had for it has come up negative), and that I can't properly absorb nutrients when I eat foods with wheat or other gluten products, so it was more noticeable when I shifted to a principally rice-based diet.
If someone actually put wasabi up their nose it would not only simulate snot, it would stimulate snot.
ABC CBS NBC CNN its all the SAME, Propaganda.
Might as well call them all AmeriJazerra.
Show them how much Gravitas Hugh Bris has. Vote with your remote! Shut down the Alphabet channels.
He's Got A Plan
Seven Dead Monkeys Page O Tunes
Great - now I have to see if I have enough $$ to eat sushi tonight.
Especially after seeing the pictures... ;)
But it tastes so good!
Unagi is the best!
There is no such thing as "too much wasabi". My wife and I dump it on so that you can feel your scalp shrink as it hits.
That could mean that preferring to eat rice would make other foods stretch further for whole populations of people in areas of potential famine.
my wife calls it plab.
One of the MOST delicious and surprising meals I discovered- was Unagi Donbori. Barbecued ell with a delicious unique sauce, served over a bowel of rice. Here again, the best to be found was in a small neighborhood restaurant in a small town near Nagoya.
Even after nearly 50 business trips to Japan - I never tired of the wonderful and vast selection of food. It is one country in the world - that I felt perfectly safe in eating whatever was placed in front of me - or found being sold on the street...
Many years ago, I went o na first date with a woman who had never bee nt oa sushi bar. She was willing to try it, though - give her that.
So we sit down at the bar, and the chef puts in front of us the customary wodden platter with a blob of gari (pickled ginger) and a healthy serving of wasabi. Before I could stop her, my date picks up the little mound of wasabi and pops it into her mouth, thinking that it was some kind of appetizer.
Serious wrong move.
Needless to say, that was our first and last date together.
Amen, bro, and roger that.
You and my wife must have much in common, not the least of which is patience and great love. ;)
My regards to you both.
I'm with you on that, and I love fish! The cooked kind. ;)
Eeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkaaaaa! See, there you went and done it! Now my dogs are scared of me! ;9)
For sure. Oysters won't stay on the hook, but they do make a good chum. The kind for fishing I meant. ;)
Dave Barry is hilarious. I am just finishing his book, "Dave Barry Slept Here - A Sort Of History Of The United States". As one review says (LA Times - well a broken clock is right twice a day): "The better you know the original, the funnier it gets."
Two of the running gags are replacing every date with "October 8", his son's birthday, and peppering lengthier "male achievments" passages with a variation on the single line, "...and women and minorities were making many important contributions" then moving on to another male achievement.
His best in my opinion. Hilarious.
Dave Barry Slept Here is without a doubt his funniest book. Possibly the funniest book I've ever read. His second-best book IMHO is the travel guide.