Please join the new, totally free, online Sushi Lovers Unite! community at www.SushiLoversUnite.ning.com. There you can upload pics and video of your favorite sushi and sushi adventures, chat with other sushi lovers, and share sushi tips, restaurants, and special offers. Truly interactive, because we want to hear from you!
Check out this video response to Carol Mason’s query on whether wasabi can be grown in Arizona. Nope, the real stuff pretty much isn’t grown outside of Japan. According to the sushi chefs at Roka Akor in Scottsdale, it is terribly difficult and not cost-effective to grow wasabi outside of a particular mountainous region in Japan. The result – much of the “wasabi” eaten at U.S. restaurants is really powdered American horseradish flavored with wasabi oil. That may explain why I haven’t been able to reproduce the tears of joy and pain I experienced when eating wasabi-laden sushi in Japan. I could only imagine my sushi bill if pure wasabi was flown in and used to make my maki rolls!
Recently, MakiMom attempted to clear up a sinus infection by eating wasabi, with limited results (Sorry, MakiMom, but sometimes western medicine is just more effective!). I think most of our Arizona friends might also suggest that she try chiles, but that advice would have been less helpful. The effect of chiles is felt mostly on the tongue, and involves a longer period of suffering. Wasabi is felt mainly in the sinuses, and although the sensation is intense, it is relatively brief. So if you are basically only a semi-masochistic wuss (like your guest blogger), wasabi is definitely the better alternative.
Wasabi is commonly referred to as Japanese horseradish, and in fact sometimes horseradish is dressed up and presented as wasabi, so it pays to be choosy in your choice of sushi bars, unless you are just having the worst day ever and are desperately in need of a fix and happen to be passing a Fresh and Easy store. Real wasabi is more expensive and highly perishable, but if you need a higher quality of suffering, this delicacy will deliver. It needs to be kept covered until served, so sushi chefs often snuggle it up against those cute little seaweed palm frond designs, right next to the ginger slices.
Could MakiMom grow her own wasabi in Arizona? Anyone?
Today I woke up with major allergies and sinus problems. I could barely breathe. I had tried all kinds of over-the-counter medications which weren’t working very well. I complained on Facebook, and my high school friend Parrish Early of Houston asked, “isn’t there a spice that you eat with sushi that is so hot it clears your sinuses?”
OMG – he’s right. Wasabi to the rescue!
I remember many an episode of relief from nasal congestion while eating sushi at my favorite rolling sushi bar (that’s sushi on the conveyor belt) in Kichijoji, Tokyo. That’s because in Japan (and especially at that restaurant) the sushi chefs place lots of the real wasabi (more on that later) directly between the fish and the rice. There was no need to add any more wasabi – when I ate the sushi the burning sensation in my nose was instantaneous and strong. Rapid shaking of the head and a loud “Woo” always followed, sometimes combined with a pounding of the fist on the table as I struggled to regain composure. I remember my friend Missy and I crying every week eating that sushi – tears of joy and pain of course. We were always surprised both at the intensity of the wasabi and our suddenly very clear heads and nasal passages.
So now I have my justification for eating sushi today (not that I need one but it’s good to have when you’re a sushi addict and it’s a tight economy). It’s for my health. Really.
I would be remiss if I did not also encourage all my fellow allergy and sinus sufferers to get some sushi today and load up on the wasabi. Send in a comment afterwards and let us know if you experienced any relief. And oh yeah, take some pics while you’re at it and share them with us via the brand new and totally free Sushi Lovers Unite! online community at www.SushiLoversUnite.ning.com.
Whoa, stop the presses! Sushi San in Gilbert, AZ is offering a Happy Hour menu featuring 99 cent nigiri sushi (singles, not pairs). Maki rolls range from $2.45 to $3.75. Right now the Happy Hour isn’t a true Happy Hour, as the new restaurant is working on getting its liquor license, but at sushi prices like this water and soda should be just fine. The Happy Hour menu is available Monday through Saturday from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sushi San is located at 1440 W Warner Road 125A in Gilbert, at the N.E. corner of Warner and McQueen. The phone number is (480) 892-2000 and the regular and Happy Hour menus can be viewed at sushisanrestaurant.com. Ask for Jane and tell her MakiMom from SushiLoversUnite.com sent you – she may give you free miso soup or edamame.
A couple of large maki rolls or a variety of smaller rolls. Which do you prefer at a sushi meal? I personally crave variety: I want to be able to eat tuna, yellowtail, mackerel, salmon roe, shrimp, eel, crab, and more, and would love to be able to experience different maki rolls in one sitting that include those. But more and more I am finding that the restaurants are offering large 8 or 10 (even 12!) piece specialty rolls that cost 10 U.S. dollars and up. How can one afford a good variety of sushi when you have already spent $20 or more on only two rolls? I wish restaurants would offer more 4 piece maki rolls at a lower price per roll, as well as one piece of nigiri per order instead of pairs. I know a few restaurants offer this, but not enough.
Sushi lovers, especially maki roll lovers- which do you prefer? Large quantity/less variety, or more variety/smaller portions of each roll? Let your voice be heard!
Sushi Lovers Unite! Facebook fan jennifer asked if anyone had heard of a cheesecake sushi roll. I admit I have not, but a search on the internet turned up this recipe for Coconut and Lime Cheesecake Dessert Sushi from Kerstin of www.cakebatterandbowl.com. Anyone else heard of or enjoyed cheesecake sushi?
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
Juice of one lime
2 cups shredded coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces colorful fresh fruit, sliced into long strips
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted
Mix cream cheese, 4 tablespoons sugar, and lime juice in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in coconut.
Meanwhile, melt butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for 1 minute on high. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth; stir in flour and salt until a soft dough forms.
Roll chocolate dough into a 13-inch log and place down the middle of a large sheet of waxed paper. Place another piece of waxed paper on top of the log and use a rolling pin to roll the log into a 13×6-inch rectangle. Remove top sheet of waxed paper.
Spread coconut and lime cheesecake mixture on top of chocolate dough rectangle in a 13×5.5-inch rectangle, leaving a 1/4-inch border on both long sides of the rectangle. Line up sliced fruit down the middle of the sushi roll and roll up dough into a cylinder like a “sushi roll” by lifting up waxed paper and sealing the ends of the dough together. Roll the roll on the counter and press together firmly. Remove waxed paper from the roll and carefully cut into 16 dessert sushi pieces with a sharp knife.
Place melted milk chocolate into small soy sauce containers. Serve dessert sushi with melted milk chocolate and eat with chopsticks! Makes 8 servings.
Japanese food has garnered a considerable amount of attention in recent years due to its amazingly healthy properties and clean, balanced flavors. Though Americans have grown familiar with sushi and other cornerstones of Japanese cuisine, many still find it difficult to break through all the barriers, protocols, and – yes – cases of mistaken identity that continue to surround the dishes to this day. With these quick tips, those interested in learning more about sushi have a solid place to start before moving on to the advanced courses.
21. Do not take food off a dining companion’s plate with the eating end of chopsticks.
Pick up food of other people’s plates with the other end of the chopsticks, which does not touch the mouth. Doing otherwise compromises sanitation and cleanliness.
22. Never pass food with chopsticks.
Instead, pass the plate and allow dining companions to pick up the food themselves. Passing with chopsticks resembles the bone protocol during traditional Japanese funerals.
23. Buy the itamae a sake or beer to show appreciation.
Doing so does not take the place of a tip, of course, but many enjoy establishing a rapport with the sushi chef and treating him or her to a sake or beer as a way of showing appreciation for an exquisite meal.
24. If drinking from a carafe, dining companions should refill each other.
This typically holds for alcoholic beverages, but it also a nice, polite gesture when consuming tea from a shared container as well. Individuals must serve others before serving themselves, and wait patiently for their dining companions to follow suit when in need of more drink. Alternately, if serving oneself, be sure to offer others a refill first.
25. Never stick chopsticks straight up in a rice bowl.
Instead, place them over the shallow shoyu dish or a provided chopstick rest. Making them stand upright in a bowl of rice recalls the incense sticks burned at funerals.
26. Be sure to tip both the waitron and the itamae.
At sushi establishments, it is advisable to leave tips for the waiter or waitress as well as the chef. If there is not a tip jar available at the bar, simply add it to the bill and indicate the split.
27. Make sure the fish does not have an overly pungent odor.
Though some seafood does naturally admit a slightly fishy smell, a pronounced bouquet of rancidity indicates compromised freshness. It is not considered rude or wasteful to skip over a piece of sushi due to safety concerns.
28. Fish flesh must be firm.
This can be tested by pressing it with a finger. If the flesh feels mushy or does not spring back (as it were) from denting, then it is not fresh and should not be eaten. The only exception to this rule is sea urchin, which has a naturally soft, buttery texture.
29. Do not eat raw fish if pregnant.
In spite of all the health benefits of raw fish, pregnant women are discouraged from indulging. Slices of sashimi, nigiri topped with sake or toro, and other dishes still pose a risk – however slight – of causing damage to unborn children.
30. Do not eat raw freshwater fish.
Far more parasites are present in freshwater fish than those residing in saltwater because the majority cannot handle the high salinity of the latter’s environment. In fact, certain breeds of tapeworms explicitly thrive in the muscles of some freshwater species. Because of this very high risk of infection, it is never safe to eat raw fish from freshwater habitats.
Sushi lover Beverly is taking a trip to the Big Easy next week and wants to know where to get good sushi in New Orleans. Sushi lovers – can you help her out with some recommendations? Please provide the restaurant name and any known address/contact information. Thanks!
Takamatsu of Chandler has graciously offered a 10% discount to all patrons who present the exclusive Sushi Lovers Unite! coupon below on Sunday, February 21 between 3 – 5 p.m. Takamatsu (www.takamatsuinchandler.com) offers sushi and other Japanese food as well as delicious Korean barbeque. Most importantly, the restaurant features an extensive ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT SUSHI deal, normally at $19.95 per person, but would be $17.95 with the coupon. The 10% discount can be applied to any dine-in meal (not just sushi).
Takamatsu is located at 3002 North Arizona Avenue (at Elliott Road) in Chandler, AZ. While you’re there, stop by the private room on the left side of the restaurant, where I will be hosting a Handbags for Haiti fundraiser. For more details click here or check out the Event listing on the Sushi Lovers Unite! Facebook page.
Click HERE to download and print the exclusive Takamatsu coupon.