The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Japanese food is….sushi! If you’ve been to a Japanese restaurant, they most probably served some kind of sushi; whether it’s makizushi, nigiri, hosomaki or even sashimi. And I bet all us Japan lovers are out there showing our friends or family what’s what on the menu, how to use their chopsticks, dipping the sushi in with the mixed wasabi and soy sauce, and all that other stuff that amazes your audience who may know close to nothing about Japan. Well guess what? We’ve been doing it wrong Σ(｡>艸<｡) But it’s fine! Our friends don’t have to know we were wrong. We can just teach them the right way next time. And to be fair, even the Japanese don’t always follow the correct way.
Now as much as it is fun to use chopsticks for some of us, others struggle. So the great news is, with sushi it’s actually okay to use your fingers! In fact, it’s how it was originally meant to be eaten. Along with your sushi, you will generally be given three other ingredients: wasabi, ginger and soy sauce. The sushi chef may pour the soy sauce for you in a small plate, but if he doesn’t, remember that when you serve yourself, do not over do it. In proper Japanese dining etiquette, it s considered rude to waste soy sauce. If you require more later, then you can always pour yourself some more. As for the ginger and wasabi, they will often be placed delicately on the side of your plate. Wasabi should not be mixed in with the soy sauce, as most people often do. This not only makes it messy, but also the sushi chef has already added the right amount of wasabi to bring out the flavour of the fish you are about to eat. If you would like your sushi with a bit more spice, then be sure to add it by using your chopsticks, and brushing it on top of the fish. Finally, ginger is never to touch your sushi or the soy sauce. It is intended as a palette cleanser, not something to enhance the taste of the sushi. If you mix it with the sushi, it is as if you are telling the chef there’s something missing. Don’t forget, sushi chefs will have gone through decades of training before becoming the masters that they are. And part of good sushi etiquette, if not the most important, is showing respect to the chef and an appreciation to the way in which he has prepared your meal.
As I mentioned earlier, sushi was originally designed to eat with your hands. To do so, lift the sushi between your thumb and middle finger. However, it is still okay to use your chopsticks. Sashimi is often eaten with chopsticks. If you are eating nigiri, the correct way to do so, is by rolling it on the side to hold, then fish side down dip it ever so lightly into the soy sauce ( and do not start trying to shake off any excess sauce, as that is considered rude). The reason we dip the fish side down, is to avoid having any rice left in the soy sauce if we were to do it the other way. I’m sure we’ve all done that before, and then had that moment where our nigiri just crumbles and falls apart, and you’re there trying to put back the pieces together ✧。ヾ(｡>﹏<｡)ﾉﾞ✧。That’s exactly what we want to avoid.
Sushi that already has sauce, and some slices of fish, such as unagi (eel) should not be dipped in soy sauce.
So there you have it, a few pointers on the correct way to eat sushi. If you would like more info on how to eat sushi, check out the YouMeSushi website for some great tips, pictures and videos. The websites explains the different types of sushi, and how to use chopsticks like a pro. And if you have any more tips, why not share in the comments below 🙂 But the important thing is to enjoy your sushi, and be sure to show your appreciation to the chef.