Do you like to eat sushi? If so, do you eat it with wasabi? Let’s take a look now at why sushi is always served with wasabi.
The Japanese, as a culture, are big on tradition. They take certain foods and practices incredibly seriously, and one of the things that they care a lot about is their food.
Preparing food in the right way, and pairing it with the right beverages and condiments, is crucial. If you’ve ever wondered why Sushi is served with Wasabi, read on to learn about the pairing and its history.
Wasabi is a strong condiment that is quite divisive in western cultures. Some people love it. Some people find that it is far too hot, and ask that their sushi be served without it.
If you want to enjoy the true sushi experience, though, you should try to learn to enjoy it.
Not only does wasabi help to take the edge off the smell of the fish, and also draw out extra flavour, it serves a very important purpose. Wasabi suppresses the growth of the bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Remember, a lot of sushi is made with raw fish, and historically wasabi was used to stop people getting ill when they consumed that fish.
While it’s true that a lot of convenience stores now sell sushi that is made with cooked fish, if you’re going to a traditional Japanese restaurant and eating sushi made with raw fish then you will probably want to have the wasabi alongside it.
The sushi that we are used to eating today is rather different from the sushi that was made centuries ago. Indeed, there are many misconceptions about sushi. Firstly, sushi is not “just raw fish”.
The term to describe raw fish, by itself, is “sashimi”. Sushi is fish, sometimes raw, sometimes cooked, that is served with seaweed, rice, and other ingredients.
Centuries ago, sushi was used as a way of preserving fish. It was mixed with salt and would wrap the fish so that the fish would not go bad. The Japanese would unwrap the fish and throw the ‘sushi’ away.
It wasn’t until relatively recently, in the grand scheme of things, that sushi became a dish to consume.
The old mix of salt and rice turned to vinegar and rice, and then eventually the invention of ice machines completely changed the way that the Japanese dealt with fish, because it was so much easier to keep it fresh.
There are still places in Japan, such as Kyoto, where traditional dishes such as narezushi (fermented nigiri based sushi) are served. These pungent dishes are served with a soy sauce dip and wasabi.
The condiments help to make the fish more palatable and also mask the fermented smell so that diners can enjoy the authentic taste of the nigiri. When served with sake as well, it’s a great experience.
“American” sushi is a rather different experience. American tastes are milder and simpler and are almost a ‘pop culture’ re-imagining of the cultural dishes that they are based on.
Take the ever-popular ‘California roll’ which uses cucumber, crab sticks and avocado. These ingredients were not used in true Japanese sushi, but they are now something that most westerners associate with sushi.
Wasabi is still a staple of the modern sushi tray, even the type that has made it to the UK, Australia, and the USA.
While the more modern western-style sushi tends to have the seaweed concealed, and is based on different, less pungent fish, there are still some authentic touches.
This means that the modern variety of sushi is often a gateway to diners trying the more authentic, and far better, thing.
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