Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to Like Sushi

Sunset Sushi Roll

Years ago, my best friend and I were hanging out with a tight little group of running friends who ate sushi all the time.  Marnie and I didn't like sushi, so we quickly exhausted the teriyaki style foods on the menu and then became bored.  And we figured that with everyone and their cat raving about how amazing and delicious and ridiculously tasty sushi was, maybe we should give it a try?  So over the course of a few months, Marnie and I set out a strategy for teaching ourselves to like sushi.   A little strange?  Maybe.  I like to think of our challenge as adventurous and daring! 

Our Blah friend here, Mellisa, is currently flying her lucky butt to San Diego for the BlogHer conference.  (Trust me, I sooo wanted to go!  But, finances just didn't include it this year.)  And she's dying to try sushi while she's there.  After giving her ideas for places to try, I told her my story about Marnie and I learning to like sushi.  And, it sounded like a fun idea for a blog post!  I do know lots of people who adore sushi, but I also know lots of people who have never tried it. 

So, here we go!  My tips for teaching yourself to like sushi:

1.  Like fish and seafood.  Kinda a no-brainer, but really.  Don't be peer pressured into thinking you should like sushi if you don't even dig seafood already.

Edamame is basically a vegetable appetizer.
2.  Go for the totally cooked, somewhat bland appetizers if you're worried about getting full.  Marnie and I are eaters, and when we'd go for sushi after a group run with our friends, we were genuinely concerned that we would leave with empty stomachs and be forced to stop for snacks after "dinner."  Edamame ("edda-ma-may") is an easy appetizer to help keep your stomach from feeling full of holes.  You scrape the pod with your teeth - just like with artichoke leaves - and the soybeans pop into your mouth.  There are only 3-4 per pod, and it basically just tastes like a vegetable with salt.  Zero to be afraid of.

Can you spot the different sized pieces on these plates?  Start small!
Best Tip of All:
3.  Sushi is 95% about the size of the piece.  Marnie and I started with the completely cooked rolls  and soon discovered that it was the dang size of the piece that was causing us to chew and chew and chew.  And when you couple that with thoughts like, "Ohmygosh, there's raw fish in my mouth!  Chew faster, chew faster!" it's bound to be a disaster, right?  So start out with completely cooked rolls and get used to the size of each bite before moving on to anything with raw fish.  I can't emphasize this enough!

Shrimp Tempura Roll = fully cooked.
4.  Start with fully cooked rolls.  Most sushi places offer selections that are fully cooked and some even mark a star by them on the menu.  "Shrimp Tempura" and "California Rolls" are awesome.  The "Shrimp Tempura" is usually just a piece of tempura (aka fried) shrimp with avocado and cucumber, wrapped in nori (the black seaweed wrapper) and rice.  Nothing crazy in there, right?  Some places will add cream cheese to that same roll and call it a different name, so that's another roll you can add to your list of options.  Again, you're teaching yourself to get used to the size and texture of sushi pieces before you add any of the raw stuff.

These ladies look like they would love to share with you!
5.  Then start stealing pieces off your friends' plates.  It's the best way to try out new combinations without subjecting yourself to an entire roll of something new.  Most people get excited to share their favorite rolls, and will go on and on about why they're so tasty until they finally take a bite and you can get a word in edgewise.  Or maybe that's just me ;)

6.  Do not buy sushi from a grocery store.  It does not taste good.  Ever.

Well, I hope that was hopeful at least a little bit!  Do you have any tips for sushi?  Any favorite rolls?  Any questions for me that require a field trip to my neighborhood sushi restaurant? :)



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Sushi Pieces


  1. I'm so excited to fly out later today. Your tips and knowledge are surely going to be a lifesaver! I so wish you were coming too!

  2. A very good plan. You'll be eating big ol' pieces of sashimi (just the raw fish and nothing else) before you know it.

  3. I ate sushi from a grocery store today! LOL Sara is right it is not that good, but tolerable now.
    Sara is SO right, start with the cooked, then move to fancy.
    Edamame is YUM I was going to have some tonight. But read again how you eat it, it is fun to watch people put the whole thing in their mouth, but you just nibble.
    See...Sara's tips do work! Just today I have had sushi and will have edamame. :)
    I have a question; when you get shrimp tempura and the tail is out how do get it off lady-like? I try and gently take it off with my hands but that is not lady-like.
    Thank you for the memories Sara, yes we have come a long way.


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