My early morning sushi obsession will eventually go away and be replaced or will it. Thirty-five years later, I am still obsessed.
The sushi we eat is sublime or I won’t eat it. I am not a hedonist, I simply respect the craftsmanship of the professional. The so-called “art” which is not “art” but refers to the ultimate talents of a sushi maker. His perfection is his selection of fish, and the simple swift process he uses. Sushi is the ultimate one on one food, and it is popular for a very good reason – it tastes pure.
It is 5h27 and my close friend (Mr. T) wakes up now and gets ready to jump his scooter to the Tsukiji market. I am in a toasty room, the weather is dry but frosty outside. My house is quiet as he rubs his eyes. Watching himself in the mirror he gets dressed. A routine, his warm fleece jacket and a wind breaker, and his rubber boots. He walks out the door to his shop nearby where he puts his helmet on, jumps on his sushi scooter with a wooden box roped behind. He rides 20 minutes to the market to see his regular early morning fish mongers, each day, five days a week.
The fish is cold, the air still dry as he gets back to his base. He carries his routine brown paper bags where he keeps his various fish. It isn’t that he is hiding anything, he is just protecting his fish from the travels; this is also a tidy way to keep the fish within their own environment. The elastic bands, they are wound around the outside of each bag to secure the fish and keep them in place.
One by one he opens his fish and surgically prepares them. The water in the sink is rushing cold, running fast, his hands are almost blue. He takes a stainless bowl and distributes his fish evenly. The work begins at a steady pace as he works each fish, cleaning them, and preparing them on bamboo baskets to dry.
The marinating process is as important as the cleaning steps, and finally the fish are all completed, ready he can now sit a little and sip his tea. A mornings work is almost done before leaving back to his home for a quick shower.