Love sushi? Did you know there is serious etiquette involved with indulging in sashimi? Here’s what you need to know…
We ate way too much sushi during our recent trip to Japan. And Yakitori. And Tempura. And a whole host of other wonderful Japanese food. I tried Pufferfish or ‘Fugu’ while visiting the Japanese Fugu Capital, Shimonoseki – and despite all the hype, it didn’t kill me (yay). To the disgust of my other half, Brad, I also tried Sea Urchin – which I can only describe as ‘odd, but kind of nice’).
More importantly, I realised I was totally clueless about food etiquette when eating Japanese food. As it turns out, being a dedicated sushi fan is more than just knowing the difference between Sashimi and Nigiri – it’s about knowing how to eat sushi, by understanding not only the food you’re eating, but also the instruments you’re using to eat with and respecting the culture where the food comes from.
Sushi – what you need to know
So, let’s banish some of those common mistakes that – that let’s face it – we’ve all made. Understanding how to enjoy sushi the traditional way will no doubt add to the true Japanese experience…
1. Do not wipe anything other than your hands with a cold towel.
It’s traditional to be given a cold towel at the start of a Japanese meal. This is for use on your hands only.
2. Do not stick your chopsticks directly into your rice. Rice is the most sacred part of a meal and this action is thought to be a highly morbid symbol. Don’t do it. Instead, lay them down on the chopstick stand you would have been given.
3. Passing food using chopsticks is a huge no-no because in old Japanese rituals, people used to pass cremated bones using chopsticks at funerals.
4. Use any given ginger slices to gently garnish the top with soy. Definitely do not dip your sushi into a dish of soy sauce – or worse, pour soy sauce over any food. This is a sign of disrespect.
5. Never leave rice floating in your soy sauce – it is seriously bad form. Again, this is the most sacred part of the sushi dish.
6. Eat each part of your Bento Box individually as each part has taken immense time and preparation to be presented so neatly. Never mix the various ingredients in a Bento box or bowl (fish, salmon roe, sushi, rice etc…) – instead, take note of the work that has gone into the dish, and savour it slowly.
How many of these Sushi don’ts do you already know? Tell us in the comments…