Over the past few years, sushi has been gaining popularity, making its presence felt in almost every part of the world. Be it raw sashimi style or prawn tempura or avocado and cream cheese, there are various ways in which one can enjoy this dish. The cold fish rolled with fermented rice wrapped in a nori sheet is the most common and popular one. Whether paired with wasabi sauce or chilli oil or even soy sauce, this dish will satiate your tastebuds.
The origin of sushi dates back to as late as the 2nd century BC China. Yes, you read it right! It is not Japan, but China where the dish originated from. It was known as narezushi and comprised salted fish and fermented rice. It crossed over to Japan later in the 8th century and underwent various transformations. Over the years the dish has gone through several evolutions and what we eat today depends on the region, custom-made to suit the local palate.
Of late, Mumbai too has seen a rise in restaurants serving sushi. Sushi is an acquired taste and not many might enjoy gulping down raw fish, but once you find the sushi that suits your tastebuds, there’s no going back. For beginners, there are certain rules and etiquettes to be followed. Sharing tips, former chef and sushi enthusiast, Salil Gokarn says, “Never douse a lot of soy sauce on the sushi. It is just meant to be dipped lightly once.”
Sushi is usually eaten with chopsticks. However, if you are eating a guncan roll or nigiri sushi, it is eaten with the hands. Also, the ingredients matter a lot as they have to be of a certain grade, especially sashimi. The pickled ginger is used as a palate cleanser and is not really an ingredient, Gokarn says. In Mumbai, he says, salmon and prawn-based sushis are more common.
Prasuk Jain, the founder of one of the most loved sushi places in Mumbai, The Pink Wasabi, says, “Sushi culture is indeed picking up in Mumbai. Prawns and fish may have been home to Mumbai dishes for ages, but we do have a lot of people who come in just for our sushi dishes. We locally source the fish and rice. But certain ingredients such as cheese or exotic vegetables, we source internationally. Keeping the pandemic in mind, we have been very careful in boiling the rice and fish before serving. We don’t serve raw fish. But we do have patrons returning because sushi is a dish that you simply can’t resist once you take a liking to it.” And the best part is, sushi is not meant just for non-vegetarians or pescatarians, even vegetarians can savour it.
Harry Hakuei Kosato founded Sushi and More, a delivery and takeaway kitchen that serves high quality, healthy and tasty Japanese dishes across Mumbai, Delhi and Gurugram. They have a wonderful menu of vegetarian sushi.
“India has a huge vegetarian population and like most of the food businesses in India, we cater to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Almost 50% of our menu and 40% of our sushi sold is vegetarian. Our menu even comprises vegetarian (including Jain-friendly) sushi rolls, nigiris, bento boxes and other Japanese favourites such as Tofu Amakara, which is crumb fried tofu tossed in a flavorful Amakara sauce, served with sticky rice, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus or the crunchy avocado roll, and more,” says Harry.
Over the years, sushi has undergone a tectonic change in terms of how it is made. Chefs Manpreet Dhody and Anupreet Dhody have turned sushi roll into a sushi cake and are garnering rave reviews for their innovation. Dashanzi, a restaurant at the JW Marriot, Mumbai, serves Dashanzi’s Maki roll, which comprises hamachi, salmon loin, chutoro and nori sheet. The sushi roll is devoid of any rice as the idea is to celebrate the fish by itself. The avocado perched on top adds to the rich, creamy texture and the Ikura (salmon roll) presents a burst of flavours.
While the chefs that we spoke to do mention how carefully they source fish and keep it refrigerated at the right temperature and some even don’t serve it raw, there are certain guidelines that health professionals ask people to follow.
Dr Keyur Sheth, Gastrologist, Apollo Spectra, Mumbai, says, “Sushi is mostly made up of seaweed, rice, vegetables and fish is a good option that is tasty and healthy as it can cut down the risk of cholesterol and heart problems. But it is advisable to eat sushi not more than twice a week as it has some hidden risks too.”
He cautions, “Diphyllobothriasis (or fish tapeworm infection) can be seen in many people due to eating raw fish like salmon that leads to diarrhoea, fatigue, stomach cramps, weakness and unintentional weight loss. Some fish contain a high amount of mercury that can damage the central nervous system leading to headaches, dizziness, developmental delays, brain damage and even organ failure. Swordfish, sea bass and mackerel tend to have high amounts of mercury levels. Pregnant women and children should limit their consumption of raw fish as they can be susceptible to allergies.”
Enjoy sushi, but as with anything, enjoy it in moderation!
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