Sushi has rapidly become one of the world’s top cuisines. Starting out as little more than fast food a few centuries back, the variations of this dish have enchanted our taste buds in such a way that, according to IBIS World, there are now more than 4,000 seafood restaurants in the United States alone. In other words, we’re hooked.
If you’re anything like me, your love of sushi has reached a point where you need to know anything and everything there is to know about the different types of food served at your local sushi restaurants. I had some serious misconceptions about sushi for the longest time. Luckily, I found a unique restaurant with a great chef who filled me in on some really interesting facts about sushi I may have never found out about otherwise.
Four Crazy Facts About the Food Served at Your Favorite Sushi Bar
- Eel Meat is Always Served Cooked
- Think Sushi Needs Fish? Fuhgeddaboudit.
- Mixing Soy Sauce and Wasabi isn’t Kosher
- That Seaweed Has…Humble Beginnings
As the online news source Boston writes, one of the things you may have noticed when visiting your local sushi restaurants is that eel is never served raw. The reason is simple enough: even if ingested in only the tiniest amounts, eel blood can and likely will kill a person. Eel blood is a powerful paralytic, meaning when it’s ingested, it cramps your muscles. Most importantly, it cramps and eventually paralyzes your heart. Cooking the eel removes any chance of this happening.
There is a very popular misconception that to be considered sushi, a ball of rice needs to be served with a piece of raw fish. According to the popular cooking blog Backyard Bite, however, the word sushi actually refers to the vinegar, salt, and sugar infused rice. That’s why whether rice is paired with seafood or vegetables, it’s still sushi, so long as the seasoning is present.
You’ll often hear that mixing soy sauce and wasabi together for a dip is fine because “people do it in Japan.” People in the States put their elbows on the table, but we still recognize that as a social faux pas, right? As Just Hungry, a long running Japanese cooking and culture site details, it’s a unique restaurant indeed that will be okay with your mixing up this hellish slurry. Sushi is meant to be eaten just how the chef prepared it — perhaps with a drop of soy added for some salt.
Remember the chef at that unique restaurant I mentioned toward the beginning of the article? One of the most interesting things she taught me is how nori — the sheets of toasted algae that are served with many types of sushi — first entered the picture. Originally, nori was created by scraping algae from the bottom of boats. The algae was then pressed into sheets and allowed to bake in the sun. Nori today is farmed with strict controls in place, though some places in Japan still make it in this way.
Do you know any other strange or interesting facts about sushi that deserve to be on this list? Share them with us in a comment below. Reference links.