Practically licking the plate might seem like to a compliment to the chef, unless you’re in a Japanese eatery. Sushi comes with an etiquette entirely its own, and if you neglect to learn it, you might inadvertently offend the culinary genius behind the sumptuous meal. Use these pointers to respectfully and traditionally indulge in your favorite fresh fish feasts.
When you take your seats at a Japanese locale, observe your surroundings. On the table, you’ll see chopsticks, a small ceramic dish and a bottle of soy sauce. These items are all you need to properly maneuver kappa maki into your mouth.
Sushi is finger food
Your hands and chopsticks are both acceptable utensils for sushi. Using either, grab a piece of sake nigiri off the board and dip it fish-side down into the soy sauce. It’s improper to dunk the rice because it’ll absorb too much of it, ruining the flavor, Tokyo sushi master Koji Sawada told CNN.
“Chefs pair a calculated amount of wasabi with each serving.”
No matter how much you love ginger, resist the urge to wrap it around your fresh fish. It’s meant to be a palate cleanser and consumed in between bites. Wasabi should be used in moderation too. Overdoing it is for the sushi rookies, as chefs pair a calculated amount of wasabi with each serving, meaning more or less is off-balance.
If you’re the type of sushi eater who loves to swish your sauces around to make your own creation, this is completely warranted but only meant for sashimi – raw fish without rice. Blend with purpose rather than being delicate about it.
The trick of chopsticks
Using chopsticks is an art of its own. Unwrap the pair from the paper packaging or cloth napkin, pull them apart, then rub them together. This gets rid of any wooden splinters, leaving you with a smooth set of dining sticks.
It can be tempting to play with the chopsticks, especially if you rarely eat with them. However, LA Magazine pointed out that it’s impolite to do this. You also shouldn’t point to anything – waitstaff included – with the sticks, nor should you stab at your sushi to retrieve it from the plate.
Avoid these chopstick faux pas and watch a quick tutorial on how to use the chopsticks so you can navigate these unchartered waters like a skilled sailor. It might take a few tries, but you’ll get the hang of it.
When you’re ready to put your chopstick skills to the test, gently pinch an entire sushi roll and bring it to your mouth. If you want to make a pit stop at the soy sauce, turn your sticks so that the piece of fish angles at it. Then, dip – don’t submerge – the fish before eating. Be sure to down the piece in one fell swoop. If it’s too big, it’s acceptable to ask the chef to cut it for you.
Arrive hungry so you can eat every last bite. It’s not good manners to leave even a speck of rice on the plate!
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