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Old 07-17-2011, 12:01 PM   #61
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My schematics for breaking into Timothy's kitchen in the dead of night to heist his sushi freezer is done. I've been practicing, and timing myself, on a mock-up counter-top safe. I just need to put the finishing stitches in my ninja costume...
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Do you need a driver for the get-away car?
Hahahaha, you guys are crackin me up! I'll warn you now; I have two guards! Rocket, my outside cat has been known to completely wrap himself around the legs of intruders and trip them! He'll give you a tongue lashing you'll never forget!

If you manage to escape Rockets efforts, Dinky, my Persian will jump into your arms and knock you flat! Waking to his face licking might just scare you to death!

You've been warned! I've planted exploding nigiri among the real ones! Only I know which is which!

This isn't the first time I've dealt with sushi freezer ninjas! I'm ready!
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Old 07-17-2011, 12:14 PM   #62
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mmmm...Copper River Salmon nigiri. Baby spinach salad with sesame-wasabi dressing. Lychee-strawberry dessert. Iced Genmaicha.
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Old 07-17-2011, 12:46 PM   #63
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Regarding wasabi paste, I might add that most restaurants make it with store bought powder. Which is mostly horseradish with green food coloring. Fresh wasabi looks a lot like the root stock of galangal. It's crazy expensive, as is a tube of "fresh-grated." The taste is hard to describe... like grass & mud pie. You can eat a teaspoon of it straight up, and it hardly tickles your sinuses. Penzey's is the only store I've encountered which sells real, powdered New Zealand cultivated wasabi root.
I'm glad you mentioned that Japanese Horseradish is not the same thing as the type of Horseradish that is sold in supermarkets as "Prepared Horseradish".

The type of Horseradish that is used for Wasabi paste is actually named "Wasabi Root" and is much, much hotter than the version found in supermarkets and used commonly in seafood sauces.

I see there is some confusion on how to use it properly when in front of an Itamae, (Sushi Chef). Mixing it into soy sauce is considered "Tacky" by sushi purists.

Almost all Westerners do this, and most Itamae just turn a blind eye to the practice, but the proper manner to use wasabi is to take a small amount, suitable for one piece of sushi, and pointedly place it on top on the piece of sushi you are about to eat.

The reason for this is to let the Itamae know that you prefer more wasabi than he has put into the piece. Again, in Sushi Purist's eyes, even this can be interpreted as an insult to the Itamae, as if saying; "You don't know how to make sushi correctly!", but again, is becoming an accepted practice even in Japan now.

The absolute best way, and the most accepted and appreciated manner to receive the amount of wasabi you prefer on each piece is to just tell the Itamae that you like more wasabi than most people, and would he please add some to each bite for you. Sadly, even this, in sushi purist's eyes is an insulting act. The Itamae is considered by purists to be the absolute master of sushi. He knows if wasabi belongs in each type of sushi and would leave it out of those types that are not complimented by it. To add it after the Itamae has decided it would have a negative effect on his work is a direct insult and in old days, the Itamae would either kill himself or you for this occurrence. If the object of the insult was an important person, the Itamae would simply kill himself to retain his honor. If the person who altered his "recipe" was a commoner, they would die. These guys took thier sushi to extremes.

Strange, but true. This was all relayed to me by a retired Itamae who befriended me. He had made sushi from early in his life, (around the turn of the century), and was a never-ending source of information about the subject.

So, if you want to impress your Itamae, and you like a bit of wasabi on each piece, explain it to your server as you place your order. He will then add it to the *inside* of the piece, as to not disturb the appearance of his work. Then, if it not enough, simply take a small additional amount and pointedly place it on top on one piece for him to see. He will increase the amount he places within the sushi to the new quantity.

Or, if you really don't care if this guy likes you or not, just put a glob of it in some soy sauce and mix it up as a dip. hahahaha, I've never done it, but in some places, you might next be served by the wakiita, or "trainee" as the Itamae will consider himself too skilled for your palate.

Here's a bit of information about sushi from Wiki:
History of sushi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It touches about 1% of the whole history and customs of sushi, but it's a good place to start.

An explanation of the training an Itamae must go through in Japan:
Sushi Chef Apprentice - August 2009 Newsletter
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Old 07-17-2011, 12:57 PM   #64
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Really interesting info, Timothy! I've been intrigued by Japanese culture since reading Shogun many years ago!

Thanks!
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:44 PM   #65
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Really interesting info, Timothy! I've been intrigued by Japanese culture since reading Shogun many years ago!

Thanks!
Thanks Dawgluver!

Here's a bit more Japanese trivia for you!

Chop Sticks:

Food should not be transferred from one's own chopsticks to someone else's chopsticks. Japanese people will always offer their plate to transfer it directly, or pass a person's plate along if the distance is great. Transferring directly with chopsticks is how the bones of the dead are passed as part of Japanese funeral rites.

The pointed ends of the chopsticks should be placed on a chopstick rest when the chopsticks are not being used, but only if you keep the chopsticks within the area of your eating area. When a chopstick rest is not available as it is often the case in restaurants using waribashi (disposable chopsticks), a person may make a chopstick rest by folding the paper case that contained the chopsticks.

Reversing chopsticks to use the opposite clean end is commonly used to move food from a communal plate, although it is not considered to be proper manners. Rather, the group should ask for extra chopsticks to transfer food from a communal plate.

Chopsticks should not be crossed on a table, as this symbolizes death, or vertically stuck in the rice, which is done during a funeral.

It is rude to rub wooden chopsticks together after breaking them apart, as this communicates to the host that the user thinks the chopsticks are cheap.

Chopsticks should be placed right-left direction; the tips should be on the left. Placing diagonal, vertical and crossing each stick are not acceptable both in home and restaurant manners. Placing the chop sticks so that the pointed end faces someone else was considered an invitation to combat in old Japan. The chop sticks, in that position are a representation of a sword or knife. To point a sword or knife at another person is a direct invitation to combat.

In formal use, disposable chopsticks (waribashi) should be replaced into the wrapper at the end of a meal.

It is considered acceptable to have your own chop sticks on your person. Many people in old Japan traveled with thier own chop sticks on them. If chop sticks are available when you are a guest, it's not proper to display your own, as it will be interpreted as an insult to your hosts offer of chop sticks.

One must never use chop sticks for anything but eating. Pointing with them is very, very bad and using them to drum on the table like using drum sticks is considered extremely bad manners. Waving them about is also considered a challenge to fight. It's the equivalent of pointing with a sword or knife.

In Japan, eating sushi with your fingers is proper. There is a precise way to do so. However, if eating in a Chinese establishment, eating with the fingers is considered extremely bad manners. The chop sticks or spoon should be used at all times for all things to eat.

The host should always prepare each bite to be just a little larger than Westerners are used to. This is proper. The bite is supposed to fill your mouth. If a piece is too large to eat comfortably, it's acceptable to bite off half the piece and then place the other half on your plate until you eat it on your very next bite. If eating that "leftover" piece is delayed while eating something else, it's taken to mean it was not worth eating and you had to get the taste out of your mouth with another bite of something else.

If one insults an Itamae, they have very subtle ways to insult you back. They can intentionally make each bite much too large. This can be done to a customer who is too loud. It it basically to shut them up by over-filling thier mouth. They may also place *thier* knife in a manner that is a challenge to you. If you ever see one place their knife so that the point is facing you, you've done something to insult them badly. The Itamae is telling you politely that he wants to kick your butt.

Lastly, NEVER, never, never offer to shake hands with an Itamae. The offer will place him in a position that has no resolution. He cannot touch you with his hands. To do so would insult you and his profession. He also cannot fail to accept your offer of handshake, as that would insult you as a guest who has offered to exchange touches. If offered, he will react. Then he will quickly shake your hand, apologize and run for the back kitchen area to clean his hands. Anything else and he would insult the other customers.

Ultimate politeness is what the Japanese are all about. There are many hundreds of other small parts to this.
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Old 07-17-2011, 02:12 PM   #66
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Wow! Miss Manners has nothing on the Japanese!

Fascinating!
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Old 07-17-2011, 07:56 PM   #67
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"Timothy: The type of Horseradish that is used for Wasabi paste is actually named "Wasabi Root" and is much, much hotter than the version found in supermarkets and used commonly in seafood sauces.

I see there is some confusion on how to use it properly when in front of an Itamae, (Sushi Chef). Mixing it into soy sauce is considered "Tacky" by sushi purists.


Almost all Westerners do this, and most Itamae just turn a blind eye to the practice, but the proper manner to use wasabi is to take a small amount, suitable for one piece of sushi, and pointedly place it on top on the piece of sushi you are about to eat."


That isn't necessarily so...





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Old 07-17-2011, 11:54 PM   #68
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"Timothy: The type of Horseradish that is used for Wasabi paste is actually named "Wasabi Root" and is much, much hotter than the version found in supermarkets and used commonly in seafood sauces.

I see there is some confusion on how to use it properly when in front of an Itamae, (Sushi Chef). Mixing it into soy sauce is considered "Tacky" by sushi purists."


That isn't necessarily so...
Yes, times have changed. The traditional methods are still alive, just not that important to the newer generations. I was speaking only of Traditional sushi purists. Almost anything is acceptable now.
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:44 AM   #69
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wow, very interesting info, timothy. i've also heard of many of the customs of politeness when eating sushi and certain rules when eating with chopsticks.

one thing i was taught by an itamae (of whom i was a regular customer for years) was that you should only dip a small amount of the fish half of a piece of sushi in soy sauce if you should prefer, never the rice half. the rice is already seasoned, and it would soak up far too much soy sauce to be reasonable.
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:14 AM   #70
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itamae = wooden board in front of me/you/us.
If you have trust, declare, "omakase," or "I defer to your responsibility for my life."
You'll be treated to the best cuts, maybe a broil of yellowtail collar or sea bass belly.
Know your tab, or bring your card.
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dashi, mirin, recipe, rice, rice vinegar, seaweed, wasabi

Need Help with Sushi Yesterday, I decided that I wanted to learn to make Sushi and eat a lot of it. Especially if I can make it low sodium. Today I bought: [LIST] [*]sushi rice [*]nori [*]kumbo [*]bonita flakes [*]mirin [*]plum vinegar [*]shitake/shoyu concentrate [*]pickled ginger [/LIST]I have on hand: [LIST] [*]lots of soy sauce, shoyu, tamari [*]sesame oil [*]many spices [*]sesame seeds [*]canned tuna (Albacore) and canned Sockeye Salmon [*]Yellow Rockfish (?) and Cod, usually have tilapia on hand, too [/LIST]Veggies, I am ready and willing to use any and all veggies. Most have to be close to pureed for me to be able to eat them and I do have problems with most fresh vegetables. I plan on using many types of fish and, even though it is not traditional, chicken...haven't quite figured out how to incorporate pork...yet.:smile: I will not be using raw fish of any kind. Any help with ideas would be appreciated and I would like the recipe for Dashi, again. I thought I had copied and pasted it, if I did, I hid it from myself really well. Thank You 3 stars 1 reviews
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