Saturday, January 06, 2007

Sushi and Etiquette

Sushi & Sushi Etiquette

Sushi is the preferred choice for many health conscious people. The word sushi actually means anything made with vinegared rice. It may include cooked or raw foods and vegetables and sashimi (raw fish). Sushi is very nutritious because it is naturally low in fat, with the exception of some western style rolls and roes, is high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Most fish and seafood are naturally low in saturated fat, and rich in unsaturated fat called omega 3. Generally served raw there is also no extra fat used in preparation. Fish, tofu, seafood and eggs have high levels of protein. Seaweed is nutrient rich as are most of the vegetables.

Most sushi restaurants fly in fish everyday, and many have fish tanks right in their establishment where the fish are available and prepared on order.

Sushi includes shellfish and seafood and vegetables. Most of the seafood is raw, some is cooked. The vinegared rice typically comes rolled in seaweed. Nori is made from purple laver seaweed, kombu (or konbu) is kelp. Both are high in iron, protein vitamins and calcium. Sushi wrapped in nori is served sliced and cold. Nori salad is crisp roasted sheets of nori mixed with vegetables.

Fish that is eaten raw should be absolutely fresh, prepared in an immaculate environment, handled carefully and properly stored.

Most but not all sushi are good nutritional choices for a meal. Some good choices are: maki (which means rolled). Usually refers to food wrapped in seaweed. California rolls are one exception with the rice on the outside. Tekka-maki is tuna and kappa-maki is cucumber roll.

Tuna is served under a number of names. It depends on the species, age and what part of the body it is cut from. Tekka indicates tuna in a roll. Toro, marguo, ahi and ahimi are all tuna. Otoro is the fattiest tuna cut from the lower belly. Chutoro is also moderately fatty. Hamachi is yellowtail - a tune like fish and kanbachi are young yellowtail. Also japanese amberjack, snapper, conger, mackeral and salmon.Other seafoods are squid, octopus and shrimp. There are also various kinds of shellfish.

Vegetables include pickled daikon (a radish), fermented soybeans, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, yam, tofu, gourd, burdock and sweet corm mixed with mayonnaise.

Red meats are beef, ham, sausage, and horse meat. These are often lightly cooked. Hawaiian spam sushi is onigiri and is made with plain rice not vinegared,

If you have any dietary concerns you may want to avoid foods like agemono. It is either panfried or deep fried. Tempura is one example. Also oshinko. These pickled vegetables are salt cured and contain a moderately high amount of sodium.

Sushi is generally served on plain, minimalist wood or lacquered plates for aesthetic style. In some smaller restaurants sushi is eaten directly off the wood counter using one's hands. Modern presentation includes differently flavored sauces, floral touches, special arrangement and the mixing of foreign flavors suggestive of French style preparation.

Sushi etiquette.

Sushi can be eaten with the hands or chopsticks. Traditionally one should start with the milder white flesh items and then proceed into the darker and stronger flavors. Only the fish, not the rice should be dipped into the soy sauce. In high-end sushi restaurants it is considered bad form to request extra wasabi as the chef has probably already place the proper amount on the plate.

It is considered polite to clear one's plate. It is considered impolite to pick out certain ingredients and leave the rest. Pouring soy sauce over rice is not done; one should put some in a small dish and dip the food into it. Leaving food trails in the soy sauce is uncouth.

One should chew with the mouth closed. It is acceptable to lift bowls or plates to the mouth rather than bringing the eating utensil from the dish to the mouth. It is also considered appropriate in some situations to slurp food such as noodles or ramen.

Rice is generally eaten plain or sometimes with nori (dried pressed seaweed) or furikake (various seasonings).

Chopsticks: There are many traditions surrounding the use of chopsticks. It is considered taboo to pass food from chopsticks to chopsticks as this is how bones are handled by the family after cremation. Mismatched chopsticks should also not be used for the same reason. Also, chopsticks should not be stood up in a bowl of food, as this is how offerings are made to the dead. It is considered thoughtful to reverse chopsticks and use the clean end to pick things out of a common dish if serving cutlery is not provided. Chopsticks should not be used to skewer food. Items that are too large to be eaten with chopsticks may be eaten with the fingers.
Ginger is considered a palate cleanser and eaten between bites or different types of sushi. It is not eaten in the same bite as the sushi.
One does not drink sake with sushi, only with sashimi or before or after a meal.
With alcoholic beverages it is customary to serve each other - if not alone - rather than pouring one's own drink. If you need a refill hold your glass politely toward another diner.

In restaurants the bill is known as o-aiso "compliment". In Japan the tip is included in the bill. In North American it generally is not.

Itadakimasu! (Bon appetit!)

by Diningroom Diva

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Friday, January 05, 2007

We're fat and the restaurants don't care

Half the country is on a diet and restaurants still send out fat laden dressings and no choice desserts. If I could find just one restaurant that offered low fat blue cheese dressing, low fat sour cream, whole grain rolls as an alternative in the basket, no sugar low fat cheesecake or sugar free fruit dressing - why, I'd be back! As of now, when I want just a plain salad I bring my own low fat blue cheese in my purse - and embarrass my husband.
I love Subway. They have really gone the distance on providing some of the basics to diet conscious people. Lots of good grain breads, low fat mayonnaise, and enough healthy options to satisfy anyone who is hungry and barely in control. Of course the vegetarian and health food stores do offer alternatives, but they could use some updating too.
Some of the more elite restaurants don't really offer anything to the diet conscious, they merely serve starvation sized rations for the sake of presentation.
Still, some mid level restaurants now offer more choices for the diet conscious, but garden burgers served on plain old white buns just doesn't make sense.
I hope to find the restaurant of my dreams soon, the inside of my purse is saturated with low fat blue cheese.

by Diningroom Diva

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