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    Kampachi kona blue…superb

    kampachi kona blue sushi and sashimi

    This was a a special treat brought to us by the lovely people at Kona Blue, a sustainable, open-ocean fish farm that raises Kampachi, a species of fish native to Hawaii. We are absolutely not fish eaters, mostly because I always botch it and turn it into a disgusting mess. So when a Kona Blue rep contacted me via my blog and offered to send me a sample of Kampachi I almost turned her down. But then I visited their website and read that it’s a sushi-grade fish, similar to yellowtail and since I never, ever, get offered free stuff, much less sushi-grade fish…well obviously I couldn’t say yes quick enough.

    I and the rest of my family are totally apathetic about fish. However, we are crazy in love with good sushi and sashimi…the key word is good…defined as great, fabulous, life altering sushi with perfectly seasoned rice, cooked to its toothsome best, fresh fish (of course), and minimal other toppings. Sashimi is always either fantastically good or awful…in my mind there is just no in-between. That said, it is difficult to get good sushi in Madison. There is only one good sushi place (Sushi Muramoto) and it is expensive, naturally…because bringing fresh fish to the Midwest is a costly enterprise.

    kampachi kona blue sushi and sashimi

    The kampachi arrived 2 days after it was harvested, in a large box securely wrapped and surrounded by ice packs. Unwrapping it brought an uncanny smell of brine and ocean into my kitchen. I admit I kept sticking my head in the box just to sniff the pacific…oh, it was divine and brought back memories of strolling through the fog on North Beach at Point Reyes. The “sample” was a whole fish filleted into two pieces and it weighed in over 2 pounds.

    The rest was easy. I trimmed it up and discarded the area around the pin bones. I sliced up a round of sashimi and it disappeared down our gullets to a soundtrack of contented sighs and smacking lips. I sliced up more, and it was a repeat. I think in total we did three plates of sashimi and then I rolled up a few sushi rolls, trying my hand at an in-side out configuration that was deliciously successful. The kampachi has a high fat content that gives it a rich, buttery mouth-feel. It’s flavor is delicate, briny, and clean…pure fishy excellence.

    Will I order Kampachi? I might…it is an excellent product but it’s expensive. The actual cost of my sample would have been $74…$34 for the fish and $40 for the shipping. Considering a sushi dinner for GH and I usually costs at least $150 with martinis and service I guess it’s an option. But for me, I love sitting at the sushi bar, ordering omakase, chatting with the chefs as the prepare our meal. When I’m the chef it’s not quite as much fun. But it would be the perfect thing to take to a holiday party, a platter of sushi and sashimi…that’s a party I want to go to.

    Kona Blue Sustainable delicous fish
    Sushi Monsters tips on making those rolls
    Sushi Links recipes for sushi rolls
    The Zen of Fish, Trevor Corson’s book on sushi

    What  geeks eat...

    Japan Wants To Rate Authenticity Of U.S. Sushi

    Here’s an interesting idea that will (and should) never happen (UPDATE: A much better article can be found here – Thanks Stephen!) :

    The number of sushi restaurants in the U.S. has doubled over the last 12 years, sparking a shortage of classically trained Japanese sushi chefs.

    The Japanese government wants to send inspectors to certify autentic Japanese sushi in U.S. restaurants. They’re working out the details on the certification program.

    As much as I respect the food traditions of any culture, I also understand that tastes and trends can and will change. Then add the fact that when you import a food into a different culture, you will almost always end up with a different take on whatever food, product or dish that has been imported.

    Then, following the change in the dishes comes the inevitable cadre of purists who will tell you in no uncertain terms that what you are eating isn’t “authentic”.

    Yes, I do count myself amongst the members of that cadre from time to time.

    But exporting governmental accountability on how a tradition is applied in a different culture? Yeah, good luck with that. Meanwhile, I’ll be eating a Spicy Negihama Roll at Mashiko here in West Seattle. This roll containing hamachi, scallions, and cucumbers, then topped with garlic and shiracha sauce may not be Sushi in the traditional sense, but it certainly has it’s roots in sushi culture.

    That being said, the first time I saw sushi being sold in a supermarket, I died a little inside.

    UPDATE: Let me clarify my position. When I said that “Authentic Sushi” certification should never happen, I meant mandatory certification. I have no problem in any voluntary program, although I can’t see consumers being worked up enough to care whether their favorite sushi place is certified or not.

    tags technorati : Sushi

    Expert Sushi

    Here’s a really great article on how to improve your sushi goign experience…from the LA Times.

    Here’s a part of a very large article that I want to quote/retain for future use:

    A guide to sushi etiquette

    Getting a sushi chef to give you the best possible experience is largely a matter of letting him know that you’re serious, curious and respectful of tradition. So how to do this? Here are some clues:

    DO call ahead of time to make a reservation, or at least to tell the sushi chef you’re coming. Mention you’d like omakase or you’d like to try some traditional fish or Japanese dishes.

    DON’T go to a sushi bar on Sundays; the fish market is closed and the fish won’t be as fresh.

    DO keep the towel you washed your hands on, if you eat sushi with your fingers. Generally you will receive a wooden “rest” for your towel. Fold the towel neatly and use that to wipe your hands on throughout the meal. Return the towel to the server if you eat sushi with chopsticks.

    DO introduce yourself to the sushi chef. Tell him what you’re looking for in your meal (i.e., to try something you’ve never tried before).

    DO tell the sushi chef what you like rather than emphasizing what you don’t like.

    DO mention if someone referred you, especially if they’re a restaurant regular.

    DO say you’d like to try something authentic. If you say “unusual,” you may get something with cream cheese.

    DO look around and ask about dishes or fish that interest you.

    DON’T fill the shoyu bowl with soy sauce. Pour in about a dime’s worth.

    DON’T put wasabi in the bowl with the shoyu. A good sushi chef will put the amount of wasabi on each piece of sushi that he believes is appropriate for that fish. For sashimi, put a dab of wasabi directly on the fish. Use more wasabi for fattier fish, such as toro or yellowtail, less wasabi on lean cuts, such as clam or squid.

    DO order sashimi first, then sushi.

    DON’T pick up sashimi with your fingers; use chopsticks.

    DO eat sushi with your hands or your chopsticks, whichever you prefer.

    DON’T dip your sashimi in shoyu if the sushi chef has already sauced it. If in doubt, ask.

    DON’T dip the rice part of the sushi in shoyu, just a corner of the fish.

    DO eat a piece of sushi or sashimi in one bite. If it’s too big, ask the sushi chef to cut it for you, or to make the next pieces smaller.

    DON’T put pickled ginger on a piece of fish.

    DO offer to buy the sushi chef a beer or sake. “It makes a good bribe,” says Nao Saba, general manager of Mori Sushi.

    DON’T ask for a California Roll. It’s a dead giveaway that you’re a neophyte.

    DO ask questions about the fish — where is it from, what part of the fish is that cut from, etc.

    DO use Japanese words for fish if you know them.

    DON’T order all the sushi you want at once. Sushi should be eaten right after it leaves the palm of the chef’s hand.

    DO finish your meal with tamago (egg custard), vegetable maki (cut rolls), such as cucumber roll or oshinko roll (sour plum with cucumber and shiso).

    DO eat around. You may need to try a few places before you find a sushi bar and chef you like.

    DO go back once you find a sushi bar you like. The experiences that follow promise to be even better than the first.