I am far from an expert on Japan, but I have heard a few different opinions that I thought I would share as the Japanese “teach” me their ways. These folks know sushi:
- When you break apart chopsticks, you should slide them together as if you are smoothing them – everyone does it. Wrong. It is considered rude and a North American phenomenon.
- UPDATE: (Thanks Brent, totally forgot this one) The proper way to eat sushi is with your fingers. NOT with chopsticks. I still remember quizzing my host on this one; “is this only done in casual situations?” (no) “Are you doing this as a joke on a gaijin” (no) “Do you do this frequently?” (yes). No chopsticks is the “proper” way to eat sushi.
- Never put wasabi in your soya sauce. Wrong. I have seen lots of Japanese do it.
- Dip your sushi in the soya sauce rice down. Wrong again. I was informed by a few Japanese that it doesn’t work because the rice falls apart. Do it the other way around, in effect turning it “upside down”.
- Ginger is pink (I learned this years ago after asking at a quality restaurant). Wrong again. Pink ginger is fake. Ginger is whitish clear. I have yet to see pink ginger in Japan.
- Urchin (Uni) is excellent. It just takes time. Wrong. Tastes like swamp bottom with a hint of catfish bottom.
- UPDATE: There are primarily two different types of sushi (explained to me yesterday). Traditional sushi where the chef make it by hand. Oshizushi is pressed sushi.
A block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold, called an oshibako. The chef lines the bottom of the oshibako with the toppings, covers them with sushi rice, and then presses the lid of the mold down to create a compact, rectilinear block. The block is removed from the mold and then cut into bite-sized pieces. Particularly famous is バッテラ (battera, pressed mackerel sushi) or 鯖寿司 (saba zushi).
My 2 Yen on sushi (smile).
One other sushi comment. I don’t buy patches or little gadgets when traveling as reminders. For me it is a magnet. Always try to find a magnet which we then add to our very large magnetic world map. Narda found me a sushi magnet the other day.
As an aside, I also like the fact that half the time I have no idea what I am eating (smile).