November 9, 2013
South Coast Sushi
There are some things you should know about sushi.
Sushi began to gain worldwide popularity in the 1970’s, sushi bars in the US quintupled from 1988-1998, and now sushi is easily found all over the country. The South Coast is no exception, and with our coastal access to incredibly fresh fish, what better place to indulge? Even so, there are still those of us who have never tried sushi. For those living the sushi free life, part of the hesitation may be due to an aversion to raw fish or uncertainty regarding how to order this Japanese specialty.
Contrary to popular belief, sushi is not raw fish, although raw fish may be included in an order of sushi. In fact, you can enjoy sushi without any raw fish involved whatsoever. The word “sushi” actually refers to a Japanese dish of cold, cooked rice flavored with vinegar, salt and sugar. The rice cooks up sticky and so is easy to shape. Many but not all sushi recipes are made up of this sticky rice paired with raw or cooked fish, tofu, vegetables, or seaweed. On restaurant menus, the word sushi is used to describe many different combinations of these ingredients. To say you are going to have sushi is like saying you are going to have breakfast, so let’s get into some of the specifics. There are three common items on most sushi menus: Maki, Sashimi, and Nigiri.
Maki or Makizushi is rolled sushi. Rice and fillings such as fish, cucumber, and avocado are wrapped in seaweed (nori) and then cut into six or eight small pieces. These sushi rolls look like wheels of a multicolored spiral starting with dark green seaweed exterior, followed by a layer of white, and a center of color. Turk’s Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Mattapoisett is a great place to try maki because they offer over thirty different maki rolls with plenty of raw fish like eel, tuna, scallops, yellowfish and fluke, as well as vegetarian options like the Sunset roll (mango and avocado) and Kappa Maki (cucumber). California maki (or a California roll) is made inside out with sticky rice on the outside of the seaweed and usually filled with imitation crab, cucumber, and avocado. If you prefer your fish after it’s spent some time on the grill, Wasabi in Dartmouth serves a number of maki rolls with cooked fish like grilled tuna, grilled scallops, and shrimp tempura. A bit of sushi etiquette – you may use chopsticks to eat maki, but it is also fine to eat it with your fingers.
Sashimi is sliced raw fish served without rice. Sashimi should be eaten with chopsticks and can be eaten with wasabi mixed into the soy sauce. A Kitchen in Fairhaven offers tuna, salmon, eel, scallops, striped bass, squid, octopus, yellowtail sashimi, a seemingly endless list of maki rolls, and Chinese food. Their maki runs between $3-$5 and their sashimi is between $4-$6 for three pieces, so put some time aside and leisurely try your way through their extensive menu.
Nigiri is sliced raw fish with a molded ball of rice underneath. Most sushi chefs add a dab of wasabi in between the rice and fish, so no additional sauce is needed. Only the fish side of the nigiri should be dipped into soy sauce and it can be eaten with your hands. Many local menus don’t mention Nigiri by name on their menu, but instead just call it “sushi”. There is often a “sushi and sashimi” section on the menu with a list of seafood that can be ordered as sashimi or as nigiri. (By the way, maki is called “maki” or “rolls” on sushi menus).
The Water Front Grille in New Bedford is a good place for beginners to try Sushi. Since they are a water front seafood restaurant rather than a sushi bar or Asian restaurant, guests can order from a full lunch and dinner menu as well as the separate sushi menu. Also, their sushi menu has non-fish offerings. For example, their maki listings include a mango roll and a sweet potato roll. Water Front Grille’s sushi menu is very easy to follow, especially in the winter when the offerings are limited. There are just two sections: makimono (or maki) and nigiri/sashimi. If you want to combine your sushi with a little shoe shopping, try the Zen Asian Grill & Sushi Lounge at Wareham Crossing! Zen also serves soups, salads, hibachi, noodles, and a kid’ s menu.
Finally, each of these three types of sushi traditionally come with a plate of soy sauce, wasabi, and picked ginger. The ginger is to cleanse your palate in between bites. The wasabi and soy are for dipping.
Now that you know a little more, get out there and practice the art of local travel by trying something new. Let us know what you think of South Coast sushi in our comments section!
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