People talk about great sushi, so what about a sushi orgasm /oh-wow!/ Today I tasted one of the best “Hon Maguro” I have ever tasted!…just incredible to say the least.
Now imagine I eat sushi more than most sushi fanatics. I try to eat it as much as possible without over doing it, or fear the law of diminishing return. I begin to understand why I am never bored by tasting sushi.
I sit alone at the counter focused and ready, its quiet today, I concentrate running my hand on the underside of the solid-single hinoki wooden counter. I use both hands, as my thumb touches the edge and top side.
Touching the counter is my way of appreciating nature, and I remind myself where I am and how lucky I am. This concept is not something common in the west, the table is just utilitarian and often covered by a table-cloth. But here it is about purity and sensitivity and the wooden smoothness is baby soft. The tone is set for a food experience one on one.
It is omakse, chef’s choice so sit back and enjoy the chef’s work. Omakase is a concept is based on fish consumption daily according to the chefs experience. So the fish is portioned very carefully and asking for seconds is uncommon unless offered by the chef. There isn’t much chance to ask really, it is almost impolite but a good chef understands and sees if you are still hungry and offers a hand-roll. This way he can still maintain fish pairs, and use other parts of the fish that would otherwise be difficult to use in his repetoire. A chef could offer you toro-taku, ana-q, or shiso maki, all substitutes for nigiri.
Sushi is complex and not only eating it but understanding it. There is no way to become an expert by simply going and eating sushi. It takes much more, an understanding of the process, taste and balance needed. Principally a hand food in many cases evolving from street stalls to seated counters, but the expert o this evolution is Professor Eric Rath. His book offers the first extensive introduction to Japanese recipes and gastronomic writings. Sushi is symbolic of Japanese culture and ther way of thinking. It has developed into what we know today as a common food, into a luxury cuisine revered all over the globe.
Each and every day sushi evolves, it’s always evolving, changing and tasting different each and every time. Not because of the chef, but because of the fish itself. Imagine there isn’t any living food as pure as sushi, and each day, each fish has a slight difference. Sometimes noticeable if you focus on the details but in most cases it’s the impression. I cannot think of any experience in the west that is comparable.
I am lucky to realize that sushi is a dream food, nothing to do with Jiro’s movie. Mind you, I have said this before, I tried to watch it several times. I thought to myself, this movie is the life of all sushi chefs in Japan, each and every the chef strives to do his best, works hard and struggles in his life. He wakes up at 05h00, travels to Tsukiji on a motorbike, walks the market for an hour or more visiting suppliers and buying fish. Then back to the shop to prepare for lunch which takes a 2-3 hours. The prepare the rice and be ready for your first client. In exclusive shops the chef traditionally works with his wife and that’s it.
I remember asking my sushi master, “why no book” and he said, “my clients are important, not photos” and it took a while but I understood. The idea of over crowding isn’t what a client wants, or having people almost beg for a seat, or have to wait, or be turned away. Sushi is about humility, quality, technique, consistency and not much more.
One of the most important aspects of sushi is to understand that it is a fast food, the pace is much faster than most people would expect. Fish is usually served in pairs and the plate area is small so you need to maintain a the chefs pace. In most cases you are ingesting small bite sizes of nigiri. But the intensity is shadowed by the quality sensory overload and when you think about it, you feels like having eaten several meals within a meal.
No doubt tuna is among one of the most extraordinary living foods on planet earth. This tuna weighed 155kg and was still so very fresh – in /8/ days it will go through a state of relaxation, a balancing and maturation that will help develop more taste.