Sushi has become a cult dish for lovers of Japanese cuisine. It is by far the greatest contribution at the gastronomic level that the country of the rising sun has exported to the rest of the world, and it is often difficult to find a restaurant where they prepare it correctly or where they do not alter some recipes to merge them with other elements without obtaining a good result.
In Japan, sushi is a dish deeply rooted in certain traditions that make it almost ritual: from having its own university to learn how to prepare it correctly, to the fact that women cannot cook it (which is changing and there are now sushi masters). Despite this, there are two things that are important to know: Japanese people do not eat sushi every day, and the origin of sushi is in China and not in Japan.
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What is sushi?
The word sushi has nothing to do with fish or the state in which we eat it. Sushi in Japanese means “sour”, and refers to the way of preserving rice in vinegar, sugar, and salt and the fermentation of fish to preserve it longer.
Rice for sushi
As we said, its origin is in China; And this way of preserving rice and fish is two millennia old. Despite being born in the neighboring country, it is when he arrives in Japan centuries later that this recipe begins to improve and become popular until it becomes the phenomenon we know today.
Thus, sushi is a type of dish that is prepared with the main ingredient such as vinegary rice, and to which fish, vegetables or seafood can be added (traditionally). Although we are likely to know variants such as California, which are tremendously popular, many of them are not traditionally Japanese recipes. They continue to maintain the base of the rice, but incorporate other types of ingredients.
With this, we do not mean that good sushi has to be prepared according to Japanese recipes or traditions because over the years and with the arrival of sushi to other cultures, variants have been created that are authentic wonders for the palate.
Originally, the most common was to find preparations with tuna, but today it is rare not to see recipes with salmon, eel, or even avocado and other elements that are not typical of Japanese cuisine. Thanks to the internationalization of.
Is sushi really healthy? When can it not be?
A typical preparation of Japanese cuisine, sushi can really be healthy, unless you overdo it with some ingredients. Find out how to enjoy uramaki and nigiri without guilt!
Hosomaki, futomaki, uramaki, gunkan, temaki, and nigiri: the forms in which sushi can be presented are different, and those listed are not even all. Japanese cuisine does not end with these preparations, but its healthiness emerged from the same studies that have put the Mediterranean Diet on a pedestal and are often attributed tout-court to sushi. Is doing so a mistake?
The comparison with the Mediterranean Diet is also useful to answer this question. In fact, just as it is essential not to confuse the diet of those who live on the shores of the Mediterranean with that Mediterranean Diet so studied, theorized, and associated with health benefits, in the same way, it is good to avoid taking for granted that everything that today is called “sushi” possesses the healthy characteristics emerged from studies on the eating habits of the Japanese population. Let’s try, therefore, to understand when even sushi can not be healthy.
Many of the preparations mentioned above have the same basic ingredients: rice, fish or other fish products (such as octopus, shrimp or fish roe) and nori seaweed. The difference between one type of sushi and another lies in the shape and size. For example, we could see futomaki as larger hosomaki: in both cases, they are rolls of rice with fish in the center (sometimes associated with vegetables or fruits) wrapped in nori seaweed. In uramaki, on the other hand, the seaweed wraps the fish filling and is in turn surrounded by rice. And in nigiri, often, the seaweed is not there.
To these ingredients can be added, as already mentioned, vegetables (such as cucumbers) and fruit (especially avocados), seeds (usually sesame), and – in the most modern sushi versions as well as in the now countless fusion proposals – the more you have, the more you put. In some cases the fish disappears altogether, leaving room for ingredients such as spreadable cheese (which, let’s face it, has very little traditional Japanese). Other times, the courses are served garnished with sauces of all kinds, from teriyaki (decidedly Japanese) to pink sauce (decidedly Western).
In its basic version (rice + fish + nori seaweed) sushi has very interesting nutritional properties.
Fish provides high-quality organic proteins combined with healthy fats (especially if it is fatty fish such as salmon or tuna); it is also a source of iodine allied to the proper functioning of the thyroid and vitamin D (also in this case if it is fatty fish). Both iodine and vitamin D are not found in many foods; Opting for good sushi can be a good way to take higher amounts than the daily average.
Nori seaweed provides, among others, fibers (cellulose), carotenes, and various minerals: potassium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron are among the most abundant, but their levels are largely outclassed by those of iodine, of which nori seaweed is an extremely rich source. Unfortunately, it also contains high amounts of sodium, which you should not overdo it to avoid increasing the risks to your cardiovascular health. Keep in mind, however, that to exceed the daily limit of sodium you should eat almost half a hectare of nori, corresponding to about 20 whole sheets of seaweed. In short, I believe that, unless there is an amount of indigestion sushi, you can be able to enjoy your Japanese-style meal without worrying about overdoing it with sodium in nori seaweed.
The combination of rice (a source of carbohydrates) and fish makes sushi an almost complete dish. Too bad that the part of seaweed is little to consider it the portion of vegetables that serves to remove that “almost”. Not even that little cucumber and that little avocado that you can find together with the fish are enough to make this flaw disappear. For this reason, I advise you to combine your sushi pieces with some vegetables; In this way, you will also take a significant dose of fiber, also useful to reduce the impact of white rice on your blood sugar.
How to make it really health
Any other ingredient added to the “basic” ones can change the nutritional properties of sushi, making it less healthy. I invite you, in particular, to pay attention to those sauces and sauces I told you about earlier: if they become a constant (as in many sushi fusion proposals) they can be a problem, sometimes because they are rich in less healthy fats, other times because they are rich in free sugars, sometimes because they are sources of an additional dose of salt (and therefore sodium, Which, as we have seen, is already abundant in algae and, I add now, is also present in fish.
For the same reason, I invite you not to overdo it with soy sauce. 100 ml of that of the most famous brand (which is often the one you also find in sushi restaurants) contains about 7 grams of sodium – 3 times the maximum dose of sodium not to exceed daily. Added to those of the other ingredients you have in your dish, the sodium in soy sauce can be far too much.
The food industry has tried to remedy the high sodium content of traditional soy sauce. The same brand I told you about above today also offers a soy sauce with 43% less salt (in which sodium is present). I invite you, however, not to exaggerate even with this variant, which, on the other hand, is richer in simple sugars (3.9 g per 100 ml, compared to 0.6 of the traditional variant).
How do you, then, not give up the taste of soy sauce? I chose to remain as close as possible to the Japanese tradition, which involves dipping fish in the sauce, not rice. In this way the piece of sushi absorbs less and the soy sauce enhances the flavor instead of covering it with a uniformly salty taste that would not even allow me to enjoy the different flavors of the different preparations.
Attention to the quality of the fish
Finally, I recommend eating sushi only in restaurants that you trust in terms of compliance with hygiene and food safety regulations. This is especially important when the fish in your sushi is raw because it could pass on anisakid, a pest that is difficult to eradicate. According to current regulations, all fish served raw should be previously culled, that is, brought to fairly low temperatures for a sufficiently long time; Unfortunately, however, there is no shortage of cases in the news in which this legislation is not respected or the fish is not stored properly. These are rare cases, but risking is not worth it.
Eating good sushi in a Mediterranean way
When we think of sushi, it is inevitable to imagine ourselves in a traditionally Japanese-looking place, with minimalist decoration and references to its culture. But why can’t we eat good sushi with the Mediterranean Sea in the background?
Do you want to give classic Mediterranean sushi a twist? If you’re a fan of Japanese and Italian cuisines, you’ll probably enjoy Italian sushi. We’ve listed the best Italian sushi recipes you can follow to level up your sushi game. Don’t worry – even beginners can try these easy recipes!
- Italian Sushi
We made a delicious fusion recipe for Italian sushi. These rolls use grated Parmesan or Romano blend cheese, basil leaves, cured Italian ham, and red peppers.
These Italian sushi morsels will surely leave you craving for more, as it presents an unmatched combination of flairs and flavors.
- Sushi Roll-Ups
Making Italian sushi rolls should never be difficult. This recipe is among the easiest and quickest Italian sushi recipes out there. You can prepare this recipe in just fifteen minutes, yielding two servings!
This Japanese-inspired Italian roll will be appealing to your guests if you’re having a sushi or Italian-themed party.
- Italian Sushi Secret Recipe
If you’re craving Italian sushi with smoked salmon, try this Real Italian Sushi Recipe. This recipe also involves using shrimp, teaching you how to prepare, clean, and slice the shrimp perfectly. It also demonstrates how to cook and season your sushi rice with vinegar.
- Sushi Roll and Mango Sauce Sushi
With patience, passion, and the right recipe, you can make the best Italian sushi with your style. But why not begin with this easy, yummy recipe?
This Sushi Roll and Mango Sauce Sushi Recipe use delicious ingredients like shredded cheese, tomatoes, parsley, Mozzarella cheese, and prosciutto. To create the mango sauce, you need rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and ripe mangoes. Having a mango sauce for your sushi will make your roll a hundred times better!
That’s a lot of Mediterranean sushi recipes! There are indeed many variations of Mediterranean sushi you can experiment with. Some use smoked salmon, duck meat, shrimp, and meatballs.
Interestingly, one of the unique twists is spaghetti sushi. If you’re a pasta lover, that’s a must-try. What’s great is that there are vegetarian options too! So whether you’re hosting a sushi party or thinking of an excellent first-course appetizer, you’ll never run out of ideas with these Mediterranean sushi recipes in mind.