Sushi is typically made of seaweed, seafood and rice, all of which have great health benefits. Proof is in the pudding, as the Japanese people have one of the highest average life expectancies of both men and women in the world.
The thing about sushi, though, is that you have to understand it to reap its benefits. If you don’t pay attention to how you eat it, it can be full of calories and fat, just like any other food. Also, there is more than one kind of sushi – the one we are going to examine a bit more closely is nigiri sushi.
A Little Bit of Background
Rice is the basic ingredient of sushi. To the first timer, it might look like ordinary white rice. But then again, does ordinary white rice stick together like that?
The rice used in sushi can be white or brown. If you really want to be health conscious, ask your sushi chef to make your pieces with brown rice. It has more fiber than white. Brown rice also has bran – that’s where the color comes from. It’s also high in manganese, rich in selenium (which fights cancer), is considered whole grain and promotes weight loss.
Before the rice is used to make sushi, it is seasoned with rice vinegar, salt and sugar. This mixture is called awase-zu, and when it is mixed with the rice, it makes it sticky and easier to make into shapes.
Different pieces of sushi have different ingredients – sometimes the rice and a piece of fish or shrimp are wrapped in dried seaweed leaves.
One way to learn about sushi is to take on the task of learning how to make it yourself. This course will demonstrate how to make your own sushi. The instructions are via video, so you can learn as you watch.
How To Eat It
Nigiri sushi tends to be round shaped. Even though sushi originated from the Far East where people tend to eat with chopsticks, it’s not necessary to eat it that way. A lot of people simply eat it with their fingers.
Also, most people use wasabi before they eat their sushi. Wasabi, which people refer to as Japanese horseradish, is basically a flavor enhancer. It takes some getting used to, as it is quite strong.
Between pieces, sushi connoisseurs also use pickled ginger to clean their palates before going on to a new piece.
Another way to enjoy sushi is by dipping it in soy sauce.
But sushi in itself can be quite flavorful, especially if you indulge in certain pieces, such as the very popular California roll, which is made with avocado.
It’s recommended that first-time sushi eaters go with someone who has eaten sushi before, or even better, with someone who indulges in it on a regular basis. If you are unfamiliar with it and how to consumer it, you might not have a good experience.
This kind of sushi is usually oval shaped. The word nigiri means hand-pressed. It’s not as simple as it may sound, however. In Japan, sushi chefs are specially trained, as making nigiri sushi is practically considered an art form. Actually, it’s called nigiri-zushi in Japan.
A popular nigiri sushi is called gunkan-maki – it’s a mound of rice (sushi rice made with vinegar, salt and seasoning, even sugar if you like) wrapped in seaweed, or nori as the Japanese call it, and filled with a variety of other ingredients. Some may be made with salmon or uni, or sea urchin. Other inclusions could be shrimp, clam, eel, Squid, halibut, crab, herring, mackerel, octopus and yellowtail.
One more popular and healthy nigiri sushi is the unagi, which is made with grilled eel and avocado.
Now, some sushi chefs put some wasabi right into the nigiri sushi, while others give it to you on the side. It’s a preference you can request or trust you chef with.
Ingredients that are used for sushi are very healthy. Salmon of course is full of Omega 3, the rice has fiber and the seaweed has qualities that include aiding your digestive system, several vitamins (including A and C), calcium and antioxidants. One of its most beneficial ingredients is iodine.
Indeed, seaweed is considered a member of the super foods family. As part of the algae family, you can find red, green or brown seaweed. Most sushi chefs tend to use the red variety.
Tips For Ordering Sushi
One of the most important aspects of sushi is its freshness. Indeed, wasabi loses its taste after about 15 minutes, to imagine what it will taste like (or not) if you buy it in the grocery store pre-made. Not recommended. It may be cheaper and convenient, but the quality will have taken a severe it. It’s best to go to a Japanese restaurant with a dedicated sushi chef.
- Sit at the sushi bar. You will be able to watch the sushi chef in action and also be able to communicate with him as to your wants and his recommendations.
- Don’t go overboard. Stay with the simple pieces (unless you are a connoisseur). Order nigiri sushi pieces filled with tuna or salmon. They tend to be tasty and the texture is nice as well.
- Go light with the wasabi and the soy sauce. They are there as flavor enhancers; however, you don’t want to miss out on the flavors of the sushi itself. And besides, a good sushi chef takes pride in building pieces for you that will satisfy your taste buds and preferences.
- Don’t forget the pickled ginger. It should be used between pieces to clean your mouth so you are ready for a new taste
Dietary Restrictions & Sushi
Nigiri sushi can be very tasty and you can have your sushi chef make you whatever varieties suit your taste. Remember, too, that sushi offers tremendous health benefits, and if you are on a diet, it’s a superb alternative to just about any other kind of restaurant. In fact, sushi can also be a choice for vegetarians. Whether you just don’t eat meat and allow yourself fish or you are a full-blown vegetarian, sushi is definitely an option. Check this out for information on how to go vegan full blown or partial to lose weight and prevent certain diseases. With seaweed and rice as your basis for a meal, you really can’t go wrong with nigiri sushi.
And for those that want to discover more about the Japanese culture, here’s an amazing method to learn, speak and even write the language. Imagine walking into a Japanese restaurant and being able to order your lunch or dinner like a native! Your chef will truly be impressed.
Do It Yourself
If you want to really get into healthy eating and sushi, you can grow your own fish and vegetables. Seriously. It has been done and you can do it, too. Look into this eye-opening course on how to grow, nurture and harvest your own fish and vegetables with a system called aquaponics. Replace those multiple trips to the grocery store and grow your own dinner!
Please do take the time to do some research on nigiri sushi or go with a friend the first time that you do look into it. We are sure you’ll enjoy its flavor and many benefits it you follow a few simple guidelines.