Hey there. Here is a photo of a box of inarizushi, or o-inari (below, just “inari”) that my in-laws sent me. Made of local rice, vinegar and pouches from Kyushu, Japan, I could rest assured that it was a helluvalot safer to eat than what they deem “safe” to eat at the Tokyo stores — okay, things aren’t as radioactive as they say, but there’s plenty of other things fish and veggies absorb from the wild that are bad for you. There was no fish in these inari sushi dumplings, as they are made with sushi rice stuffed into a sweet bean curd pocket.
I used to not like this kind of sushi, because the restaurant types I ate, mainly at “WEST” (ウエスト) were so darn sweet and probably full of chemicals and preservatives I could do without. I warmed up to inarizushi after I tasted my mother-in-law’s secret recipe.
I might have mentioned before that sushi refers to the rice, not the fish. Hence, if you want to start getting used to the sour-sweetness of sushi rice, or are vegetarian, inari is a pretty good choice.
Some inari have sushi rice that is closer to chirashizushi, in that it contains vegetables and is stronger tasting. The inari featured here are the pure-white rice type, which I prefer since it cuts down on the overall sweetness.
Try inari if you have the chance!
Got some good buri (yellowtail) when I was out shopping the other day. It was supposedly shipped directly from Kagoshima, Kyushu to my local supermarket in Tokyo. With all the pollution and radiation floating around the Pacific side of Japan, I am trying very hard to source my ingredients (especially fish) from western Japan. My strictness paid off.
The package of this buri says basically that it is sashimi grade, and was cultivated (farmed) locally in Kagoshima. Then it was taken from the water and killed right on the spot, a type of quick fish slaughter that originally came from Japan known as ike jime (printed as 活け〆 on the label), This is the preferred method of killing a fish meant for eating as the taste is comparably better than say, a fish that was subject to prolonged suffering prior to death (i.e. left to bleed to death), or stuck in a live-catch tank with 25 of his mates for hours and hours of pre-death stress.
If you’re a fish addict, then you should care not only about where your fish comes from, but also under what circumstances the fish was put out of its misery.
Not that every fish seller will tell you if your soon-to-be sushi dinner was killed as soon as it was taken from the water, but you should at least ask.
This wasn’t cheap, by the way: 7 bucks for 167 grams!…okay I got 2 bucks off (see the sticker) because it the last day it was eligible for sale.
The market today didn’t have much on display today. Mainly shellfish, nishin, and inada. Their refrigerated section always has some good fish so the pick of the day is kampachi (greater amberjack), a favorite of mine among the white fishes and is good for both sushi and sashimi.
The specimen pictured below comes from one of Japan’s main islands, Kyushu, which lies to the south just short distance from South Korea. At the very southern region of Kyushu is Kagoshima, which is the specific location where this piece of kampachi originates. It was a great piece that went well with a slightly “weak” sushi rice — I had to balance out the flavor of the both the fish and the rice so that neither dominated the sushi I made (a pinch of salt and drop of sesame seed oil did wonders here).
Kampachi is a fatty yet light-tasting fish given its peach-whitish flesh. Raw kampachi sushi or sashimi IMO is better eaten closer to room temperature. It gives you that melt-in-your-mouth effect, which is harder to achieve when it’s too cold. It might be a bit on the expensive side but just getting your hands on it is only half the battle. Picking the best piece may take you to a few different fish shops. My favorite cuts are like the one featured above, with a good balance of red to white (skin layer) which gives a nice shimmering meaty appearance.
Kampachi sashimi and nigirizushi is common, but I’ve yet to sample a piece of rolled kampachi sushi. I wonder if the seaweed taste overpowers the subtle, yet rich kampachi flavor which is why it isn’t necessarily a typical makizushi ingredient.