It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again! Last week’s post was about things beginning with し (shi) and we looked at Shimokitazawa (下北沢). This week we are looking at things beginning with す (su). A big thank you to everyone who joined in with suggestions this week:
UK Seikatsu suggested sushi (寿司), Sugamo (巣鴨 / ‘Harajuku for old ladies’, in Tokyo), sumo (相撲), Suzuki (鈴木 / a family name), Suzuki Seijun (鈴木清順 / a film director); lovelycomplex22 suggested suki (好き / to like), sumo, and suica (すいか / watermelon); Troo suggested sushi, SuICa (スイカ / a rechargable train ticket, like an Oyster card in London), sukiyaki (鋤焼 / a Japanese dish), sugoi (すごい / wonderful), Susanoo (須佐之男 / the Shinto god of sea and storms), sumi-e (墨絵 / inkwash painting), and Sumidagawa (隅田川 / a river); Japan Australia suggested sumo, Sunomata-jo (墨俣城 / Sunomata Castle in Gifu), sukiyaki, Sukiya (すき家 / a restaurant chain), and sushi; Jay Dee suggested sushi, sumo, Sukiya, sukiyaki, suupaa (スーパー / supermarket), suutsu (スーツ / suit), Subaru (スバル / an automobile manufacturer), Suzuki (スズキ株式会社 / Suzuki Motor Corporation), and Suzuki Ichiro (鈴木 一朗 / a baseball player); and Buri-chan suggested Susanoo.
As I don’t have a lot of time this week for research, I have decided to write about something I know quite well, and love…
Sushi is probably Japan’s most famous food, and even people who don’t know anything about Japan have usually heard of sushi, even if they haven’t tried it. Now, I find it hard to think of a time when there wasn’t any sushi in my life, but actually, when I was growing up I had never even heard of sushi. The most exotic food I ate when I was a kid was pasta, until I started being a little more adventurous and trying curry and chili con carne. But still, the idea of eating raw fish just wasn’t something I or the people around me considered 15 or 20 years ago. Eating sushi wasn’t an option for the likes of me anyway, as it simply wasn’t available where I lived.
These days, in the UK, sushi is everywhere. You can buy sushi in most supermarkets (although I wouldn’t recommend it) and there are lots of Japanese restaurants around, not just in big cities but in smaller places too. Even if you can’t find the ‘real thing’, there are places like Yo! Sushi, which sell pretty good food. Yo! Sushi was founded in 1997 (when I was 15), and opened its first store in Soho, London. But restaurants like Yo! Sushi weren’t, and still aren’t, in small towns like Bognor Regis where I’m from. If I want to buy sushi in Bognor Regis, my only real option is the supermarket, and I would only eat Tesco sushi if you paid me.
However, even with the growing popularity and availability of sushi in the UK, some people are still squeamish about it. The idea of eating raw fish just doesn’t appeal to a lot of people, which is why most supermarkets in the UK sell sushi-like food which doesn’t include any raw fish at all.
Sadly, many people who think they eat sushi all the time in the UK may have never tried the real thing. Having lived in Japan and eaten real sushi on more occasions than I can count, I have become a bit of a sushi snob (but not so much that I won’t eat at Yo! Sushi – it’s often the only option). The sushi in Japan is just so fresh and delicious, even when you buy it from the convenience store or supermarket.
Sushi comes in so many varieties, and can be bought in many ways. In Japan, you can buy sets like the one above in all supermarkets, and smaller sets which are suitable for lunch in most convenience stores. Sushi restaurants are all over Japan, and they can range from high-class, expensive fancy restaurants, right through to ￥100 a dish kaiten-zushi (回転寿司 / conveyor belt sushi) restaurants.
Regardless of where you buy your sushi in Japan, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
As far as varieties of sushi are concerned, I couldn’t possibly begin to list them all here. Also, new types of sushi are being created all the time. Sushi can be defined as ‘cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients‘. The other ingredients of sushi are usually raw fish or vegetables. Meat (both raw and cooked) is also sometimes used. Sushi can come in different shapes too, with the two main types being:
Makizushi (巻き寿司 / rolled sushi):
and nigirizushi (握り寿司 / hand-formed sushi):
Of course, makizushi and nigirizushi come in many different varieties too.
If you want to learn more about sushi, I highly recommend a handy little pocket-sized booked called The Sushi Menu, which explains about the different types of sushi, how to order sushi in Japanese, and the Japanese names for the fish used in sushi, in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
One of the great things about sushi is that there are so many different varieties – there should be something to suit everyone. I love salmon nigiri, any maki roll with avocado in it, and both tuna nigiri and tuna maki, but my absolute favourite sushi has to be aburi salmon (炙りサーモン):
Aburi salmon is very lightly grilled, but still partially raw, and just melts in your mouth. Even looking at this picture makes me drool.
So, hungry yet? What’s your favourite kind of sushi?
Next week we’ll start with せ (se), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with せ. Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese (for example, you can’t suggest ‘sentence’ for ‘se’, because ‘sentence’ in Japanese is ‘bun’, but you could suggest ‘semi’, which is a cicada.
I look forward to hearing your suggestions! (*^_^)v