The Sushi Lover's Companion!"
"Arigato! The Sushi Lover's Companion"
Copyright 2006 Thomas P. "Pat" Jacobsen
ISBN # 0-9640703-2-4
(104,283 words, 238 pages, 246 illustrations)
Eight years of research and writing (Nov. 1998-Jan. 2007)
Price: $39.95 USD (plus $4.50 s/h & priority shipping)
($44.45 total delivered)
By Thomas P. "Pat" Jacobsen
Crate Expectations Publishing
Welcome to the home page of Pat Jacobsen's obsession with sushi and Japanese cuisine, and his new release about these subjects. Published through Crate Expectations Publishing and Fruitcratelabels.com in January 2007.
Seafood and sushi have been the staple foods of Emporers and commoners throughout Japan, Korea and the Asian Islands since 3,000 years ago, and even back to prehistoric times. Today, sushi cuisine is an exploding phenomenon in the U.S. and is being embraced around the world. This handy book about the Pleasures of Sushi is a thorough and comprehensive guide to every aspect of this unique and distinctive cuisine and will help make your journey a memorable one. It covers most every imaginable aspect of sushi cuisine, in over 235 pages, and nearly 40 sections on seafoods, ingredient lists, seafood profiles, sashimi, nigiri, makisushi, vegetarian sushi, specialty sushi, fugu (the dangerous puffer fish), shell fish, fish eggs, seaweeds, vegetables, wasabi, beef and other meats, American ingredients and modern presentations, Sake (rice beer), beverages, making sushi at home, tools, rice preparation, choosing sea foods and health and safety. There is a bibliography of over 65 other volumes available about sushi, and a big list of websites devoted to sushi cuisine. It is illustrated, but not OVER-illustrated, and contains over 100,000 words about all these subjects. And, although it is written from a "California perspective" the book also has the inpout of numerous career and veteran sushi chefs from japan and Korea as a major portion of its basis. Also, the language sections have been edited by several Japanese-American and South Korean professionals in the field, and the seafood section edited and corrected by a leading Ph.D in marine biology. The index alone covers hundreds of ingredients and techniques throughout the volume.
Inside you'll find A-Z directories of dozens of sushi styles, hundreds of ingredients, more than 150 species of fishes, sea foods and shellfish delicacies and even useful sushi-bar vocabulary in several languages, to help you appreciate all the subtleties of the cuisine. Also included, are in-depth profiles of Japanese food history, a primer on Japanese culture and tradition and straight facts about the myriad aspects of sushi etiquette, health and nutrition, prices, home-preparation, tools of the sushi trade, a list of over 250 sushi rolls and their ingredients and current prices, the trends of overfishing and sea food availability and much more. Eight years in the making and research, this guide will expand your repertoires, teach you tips of all kinds, and enlighten even veteran sushi consumers and chefs!
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced connoisseur, this is your most essential reference for appreciating and understanding one of the world's culinary pleasures. It's convenient size makes it easy to carry with you to sushi bars, Japanese and Asian restaurants, at home and at your local Asian marketplaces. When people think of sushi, often they think with fear of "eating raw fish..." But, raw fishes are only a SMALL part of sushi cuisine, as MOST of sushi cuisine and Japanese cooking deals with cooked or vegetarian ingredients, not just raw fish. You can love and enjoy sushi and never eat raw fish.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Japanese History - Jidai 9 (History of japanese food from 13,000 BC to Present)
The Sushi Bar 23 (Decore, bill-of-fare, sushi cases, menues, hours, the Chefs)
Sushi Etiquette 33 (Rules in sushi bars and how to eat sushi correctly)
The cost of sushi bars 47 (Why sushi is more expensive than other Aisian cuisines)
Japanese terms 57 (Greetings, Ordering food and being polite in Japanese phrases)
Nigirizushi "a la carte" 77 (almost 200 types of nigiri toppings listed!)
Makizushi 81 (Recipes, techniques and styles)
Types of Rolls 84 (Over 250 different NAMED rolls listed with ingredients)
Vegetarian Rolls 91
Specialty Rolls 93
ther sushi styles 103
Sushi Fishes -- "Raw Fish" 107
Ocean Fish Names 109 (Descriptions of 150+ named sushi fish species)
Fugu or Puffer-fish 123 (Yes, all about the deadly puffer fishes)
Fish Roe 137
Fresh Eggs 140
Spices and Seeds 153
Beef and other meats 163
Only in America 165
Simplified Sushi Shopping Lists 178 (You can copy and use in stores)
Making Sushi at Home 183
Basic Tools 186
Rice "su-shi" Preparation 193 (How to make the authentic sticky-rice CORRECTLY)
Choosing Sea foods 199
Health and Safety 209
Yes, it is true -- I am a sushi addict, and as such, I now go to regular "12-step" meetings at the local sushi bars. Our 12-step program, is the twelve steps it takes to go from the entrance of the restaurant to one's favorite stool at the sushi bar. Each patron freely admits their obsession to the others seated around them, unashamed at how their chance-encounter with "raw fish" grew rapidly and radically out of proportion. Words like "unagi" and "maguro" and "wasabi" roll off their tongues with reckless abandon. The very existence of this book is itself a testimony to this "sushi mentality."
My first step down the sushi path was taken in 1989, when a friend took me to lunch in Japan-town in San Francisco -- my very first-time experiencing "raw fish" on a dare. The sushi bar we went to in San Francisco's Japan-town, featured chef's who made the dishes on one side of the bar, which they put on little boats that floated on a moving river of water circling the chef's area like a pond between themselves and their patrons -- a canal, if you will. You just grabbed a plate of sushi off the little boat as it went by, and ate the pieces on it. At the end, they charged you by the number of empty plates you had accumulated, each color being a different predetermined price. This was a new experience for me, and although I had sushi several times thereafter in San Jose and San Francisco, it didn't yet change my life. But, then I moved out of the San Francisco East Bay Area and away from the centers of Japanese cuisine like San Jose and San Francisco, for the peace and quiet of the Sierra foothills above Sacramento, unaware of what was to come.
One day in 1997, I decided to try a local sushi bar I had passed many times on the highway, sharing the same building as the Auburn bowling alley (I know what you're thinking). Fortunately, these two businesses were not related except by building, and I discovered delightfully, that this particular sushi bar was a very high-quality establishment, with a peaceful, inviting, friendly family environment, a great staff, talented chefs, and a fun clientele -- not to mention the extremely fresh and well prepared ingredients. This establishment, "Miya Sushi" also had a large local group of dedicated followers who supported it -- and rightfully so. It seems if you go to any particular sushi bar on a regular basis, you begin to see many of the same faces quite regularly, like an episode of "Cheers." This may in part, be why I developed a nearly-weekly sushi appointment with these "usual suspects." I made new friends (Like Ru Suzuki and Joey Jordan), enjoyed great food, parted ways with a lot of twenty-dollar bills, and learned some Japanese greetings and fish names. Almost immediately my perspective changed one-hundred-eighty degrees, and I started getting "hooked."
Naturally, in an attempt to save a few dollars, I tried making sushi at home, not having the slightest clue where to start and did very poorly. Then, I started to regularly have lunch at a couple of local sushi restaurants and made countless notes on napkins, deposit slips and scraps of paper which I later typed into my computer. Soon, I began learning fish names in Japanese, and then a few basic phrases, like Hello, and Please and Thank you. One day I discovered, I had written a hundred pages about sushi and was memorizing Japanese on my morning walks, waiting impatiently for Tuesdays to "roll" around (no pun intended). I caught myself rationalizing bi-weekly $35.00 lunches and found that my car steered-itself, of its own free will, into the parking lot of the sushi restaurant, just to grab "a roll to go." Call me "crazy," but, now I think it is one of the healthiest habits one can have - the cost notwithstanding. In dreams, however, I am not quite yet swimming around in the sea with all the sushi fishes like "Mr. Limpet," but then, the night is young.
The Japanese believe many raw fish and sea foods to be not only necessary, evolutionary, and cultural staples of the diet, but also as aphrodisiacs, IF it is fresh and prepared correctly, and I cannot disagree. If you are served fish that is not fresh, you may immediately lose your enthusiasm for it, and you should not pay for it on general principle. But, if it is fresh and properly prepared, it will likely become an obsession of the highest order. On one particular occasion, I had the "all you can eat" lunch at one particular sushi bar. I sat quietly and watched the chef Ru Suzuki make about 200 pieces of nigiri by himself, two dozen rolls, several plates of sashimi and some other assorted dishes, enough to happily feed almost 30 people in the course of less than two hours. Table-orders were set up seven deep, and 14 people at the bar, six having "all you can eat," like myself, not to mention the "to-go" orders phoned in while we ate. His skill and speed was amazing, and he pleasantly conversed while doing it. His apprentice Shaun Wood was equally busy during the same lunch, keeping the nigiri dishes coming. Not only was the lunch fabulous, but the entertainment value of watching sushi artists at work, made for a very memorable two-hour-lunch experience. I "floated" out of there in bliss, and not feeling bloated. The flavors, aromas, sights, textures, thoughtfulness and "love" that goes into the preparation, presentation and enjoyment of the meal, can easily prove to be a heady and not-soon-forgotten experience (but, then so can the bill.) :)
Then in late 2000, I found a new and excellent sushi restaurant in Rocklin called San Ba Ci, and met Chi Mok Hwong Tomoyuki (Tomo Hiteo) and "Kim-san" (Yong Hwan Kim), both superb Japanese-Korean chefs and sushi shokunin. Both men are dedicated to their craft. Chi Mok San (Tomo), has at least fifty Japanese cookbooks on a shelf behind him in several languages, which makes sense, because he speaks English, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Japanese and more. He spent years in Asian culinary schools learning his craft and trade. Not only an expert chef and artist, he is always cordial, jovial, polite, and will even come out to tables and joke with customers, then work in the kitchen, then back to the sushi bar. I have spent countless lunch-hours watching them work.
Suffice it to say, that even the most innocent encounters with sushi cuisine and it's simplicity, artistry, craftsmanship and healthy composition, can end in obsessive, compulsive, ocean-iverous behavior. And, I am not alone in this belief as any visit to a (good) sushi bar will verify. Raw fish is not just for Grizzly bears and otters anymore, but sophisticated palates in many cuisines, including Italian, French, Mediterranean, Spanish, Mexican, and just about every other sea-bordering nation on Earth where sea foods make up a significant portion of the regional diet, sushi is having its day. Most people turn up their nose at the thought of "raw fish", until they finally try it and find it rivals many of the finest meats. Besides this, the common meats of the world, beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, other poultry like pheasant and game-hen, squab and quail, the number is very limited. Whereas, sushi cuisine utilizes over 150 species of fish and other sea foods! These people regularly become converts and submerge themselves (pun intended) in sushi experimentation. People often fear what they don't understand. Besides, many of the fish varieties offered in sushi bars, are frozen, cooked, preserved or marinated, to reduce the risks of bacterial or parasitic food poisoning, which is what most people are afraid of. When many people think of sushi, they think with fear of "raw fish," a reaction which may be a natural one for humans who evolved a fear of bacteriological poisoning through the millennia. Yet, for those who still harbor fear, raw fish is only a small part of sushi cuisine in modern terms. Traditional sushi in Japan was fresh fish and other toppings on vinegar-flavored rice. Of all the vegetables, seaweeds, hen's egg omelettes, the rices, and other possible sushi ingredients, less than half are raw fish. Most shellfish has been frozen (though not all), and of these remaining "raw" selections, most have been flash frozen at sea when they are shipped to market, not only to maintain freshness, but specifically to kill bacteria and parasites and their eggs per USDA Food Safety regulations, as well as common sense. Very few, although some, sea foods are served while still alive, which is as fresh as you can get it! Sushi which is well prepared by experienced chefs "is one of the safest ways to eat." On top of this, soy sauce, vinegar, wasabi and sake ("saw-kee")(rice beer) all have anti-bacterial qualities which aid in digestion of sushi and the discouragement of bacteria unhealthy to humans. All sea food is thoroughly cleaned, skinned, de-boned, and de-fatted with extraordinary skill, patients and experience before being served, and is carefully monitored for any problems. No honorable sushi chef will compromise his reputation (or the success of his business) by every being careless or serving second-rate sushi or risking the health of his customers! Freshness is the LAW!
Learning about sushi is not just about "eating raw fish", it also necessitates learning a few basics about Japanese history, culture, manners, traditions, artistry, integrity and a harmonious life, and about sea food and marine life. Sushi culture is ancient culture. By strict definition, "su" is vinegar, and "sushi", "sushi-meshi" or "sumeshi" is simply "vinegar flavored rice" by itself -- period. The word sushi does not mean "raw fish," , "sashimi" means "raw fish." But, for most people "sushi" encompasses the whole cuisine of "raw fish" and "sticky-rice" and other ingredients, all wrapped into one subject. Sushi is both part of a greater Japanese cuisine, and also a sophisticated cuisine unto itself, and represents thousands of years of food culture.
Sushi is a naturalistic state of mind, influencing centuries of food preparation. Japanese cuisine is amazingly and artfully simple, evolving from one basic ideology that epitomizes perfection in preparation, cooking and presentation -- food as art. The chef is measured by his artistic skills and his knowledge of ingredients, preparation styles and elegance in its intricacies of quality and freshness. Even the finest, most subtle garnish is skillfully applied to just the right plate, and the food arranged in an artistic way. Japanese food is simple, essential and seasonal.
Cooking of fish is not something done by any animal alive on Earth except humans, and that is due to a strange twist of evolution -- for after all, we come from the sea -- all of us. Bears eat raw salmon, animals of all types naturally seek sea foods. The largest population of creatures on Earth live in the oceans, and they ALL eat raw sea food! Humans also do, but over millennia, human bodies have evolved to be more fruitarian and vegetarian by nature, embracing red meat much later in the evolutionary process. The shift to sea foods was natural, especially in coastal and river-related areas of the world. Yet in most "modern" cultures, say those 3,000 years old or younger, raw red meats (including cannibalistic cultures) prove peculiarly dangerous to consumption by other humans. There are a hundred vegetables commercially raised for human consumption, and only dozens of wild and domesticated animals who provide meat to the global human diet. But, there are HUNDREDS of sea creatures who fit nicely into the human food chain. There is an observation in that fact. No one wants to eat/consume "raw fish" with its odors and potential bacteriological problems. Yet, fresh sea food is the very staple of most life on Earth (except for inland herbivores, and even some of them also seek fish in their diet). We are talking about the "food of mankind" if not the planet at large." All the creatures in the oceans, rivers and lakes of our planet, which is 78% covered with water, ALL SEEK SEA FOODS by their very nature and evolution. Surprisingly, most seafood in the grocery store is INTENDED to be cooked and NOT eaten raw. That is why supermarket-grade seafood often smells "fishy" and sushi-grade never does!
Not all sushi bars and Japanese restaurants are the same, by any means. They vary greatly in location, offerings, ownership, quality, price, and attitude. Yet, there are two underlying considerations, the quality of the food they serve, and the attitude of the chefs and staff. I have met some snobby chefs, who act like it is a burden serving me. I have also met pleasant, considerate people who are friendly, dedicated and reasonable about their prices. Most sushi bars cost about the same -- they are all mildly expensive. But then, the very nature of the products they serve demands high quality, extreme freshness and the intense work and skill that goes into preparation, the price becomes completely understandable. Good restaurants cost good money -- sushi just costs more!
Several books have previously been written about, or included sushi, and many related web-pages exist in cyberspace. Most cover the same basic information, as does this book, though this book has much more. Some were written by master sushi chefs, others by nutritionists, food authorities, even food science instructors on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. I wrote this book is a "layman's guide" to what I have learned about the recently-popularized-in-the-West culture of Japanese-American sushi, and the modern sushi-consuming culture. It started as a series of notes to myself, and grew into a time-consuming effort and labor of love lasting many years. This guide is not intended as the consummate encyclopedia about sushi, but is rather just another voice in the choir. There are a great number of books out these days about sushi and sashimi and Japanese cooking in general, thirty of which I found online. I had no idea just how many, until I was about half-way finished researching this book. Most are from the mid 1980s and through the 1990s, and many feature specialized portions of the overall (One excellent volume is "Sushi for Dummies." Most have some background, lots of pictures, and though some merely show how to make simple rolls, others delve into the fine points of cutting fish, and kitchen techniques, with very explicit instructions on how to perform every aspect of presentation. But, they also have very "determined" and creative micro-forms of artistic sushi. There is simply no way to encompass all the many and varied sushi forms in one book, unless it was an ongoing encyclopedia of massive girth.
As with other cuisines, there are a "basic" number of ingredients "traditional" to that particular region and presentation. This book covers nearly all of the common material available, but also contains the material gathered from my own first-hand experience researching the subject in the field, including many definitions, pointers and translations from many chefs I have spent hours conversing with. This may not be "the" consummate guide to sushi, but it is just a presentation of what I have personally learned and wanted to share with others in the spirit of enjoying good food, and, appreciating many important Japanese traditions in the process. This book is simply intended as a pocket-guide for the avid sushi eater to take with them on their excursions, in hopes that it will make their experience more enjoyable.
[Photographer's note: "One picture is worth ten-thousand words." This ancient proverb reminds us, one must see and taste sushi, to fully appreciate it. Hopefully, these photos will help fulfill one of those criteria. But, the "tasting" will be up to you. Sorry it has to be in black and white.]
(Last update: 2/1/07)