How To Eat Sushi

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Sushi is a particularly healthy meal. It’s mostly fish and rice, so it tends to be filling and low in calories.

My friends Cory and Kathleen showed me how to eat sushi on a trip to visit them in San Francisco. I have followed their habits since that day and it’s good to see that they taught me well. Here is a video from Video Jug explaining all the intricate details for eating sushi.

How To Eat Sushi

They explain the soy sauce, sliced ginger and wasabi as well as the habits that may be considered impolite. Here is a quick list of the steps:

There are a few do’s and don’ts, but as with all food, it’s there to be enjoyed. Sushi is cold, cooked rice cooked with vinegar, shaped into bite-sized pieces and topped with raw or cooked fish or formed into a roll with fish, egg or vegetables and wrapped with seaweed.

Step 1: What to Expect

  • Your place setting should include a napkin, a plate, a small block called a hashi oki onto which you rest your chopsticks, and a small shallow dish. This is for pouring soy sauce into.

If you are trying to lose weight, skip the sake and beer in step 2 and just drink the green tea.

Step 2: Drinks

  • You may begin the meal with one sake. This is an alcoholic, wine-like drink, made from rice. It is then customary to move on to either green tea or beer during the meal.

Step 3: Chopsticks

  • Although it is easier to eat larger pieces of sushi with your fingers, you should also use the chopsticks for some pieces and sashimi, the thin slices of fish which often start the meal. You’ll most likely be using disposable wooden chopsticks.

  • Wooden chopsticks often have a few loose splinters of wood, which can make them uncomfortable to hold. These can be removed by rubbing the sticks together. Do not let your host see you doing this, as it implies that they are cheap.

  • When selecting a piece of sushi from the serving dish, use the wider end of the sticks, not the end that you put in your mouth.

  • Never pass food to another from your chopsticks to theirs. This mimics part of a Japanese funeral ritual and is therefore considered extremely rude.

  • When you’re not using your chopsticks, rest them on the hoshi oki or across your plate, but do not lean them on the edge of your plate.

Step 4: Soy Sauce

  • Pour a little of the soy sauce into your small, shallow dish. Do not dip in too much. This is considered greedy and wasteful. You can take more if you need it.

Step 5: Wasabi

  • This is the extremely hot green paste that is included with most sushi dishes. Take a small amount with your chopsticks and carefully stir into your soy sauce. Again, don’t get too heavy handed as it could override the subtle flavors of the sushi and offend the chef.

Step 6: Eating The Sushi

  • You should begin with sashimi, the thin slices of fish. Handle them with chopsticks and take time to savor the flavor. Then move on to rice based sushi, which you can eat with your hands or chopsticks.

  • Pick the piece up and dip fish-side down in the soy sauce. Do not dunk the rice in the sauce. This will make it too soggy and difficult to eat.

  • Place the sushi in your mouth fish side down, too, as it’s the flavor of the fish, not the rice that’s important here. Ideally, you should eat the piece of sushi in one go, or two at a push. Try not to take a bite and return it to your plate.

Step 7: Pickled Ginger

  • These are the pale, pinkish slices often served with sushi. The idea is to eat the slices between sushi pieces to clean the palate. Use chopsticks for this, not your hands.

Etiquette aside, clearing your plate is not recommended is you are trying to lose weight. Stop eating when you get full. You don’t need to eat every grain of rice if you have eaten your fill.

Step 8: Clear Your Plate

  • As much as possible, try not to leave any food on your plate. It is considered especially rude to leave rice.

Knowing what to expect when you are at a sushi restaurant will help you enjoy the ritual and experience. I have found sushi to be a way to eat healthy and feel like I’m having a fun night on the town.


2 Responses to “How To Eat Sushi”

  1. SLB Says:

    It’s not that low in calories, if you want the low-cal option try sashimi, more fish, less or no rice.

  2. Dan Says:

    Since most people love sushi and love it with the rice, most sushi places now offer their sushi with brown rice… that is a complex carb and not just pure starch. The only issue I run into is remembering to ask for it!

    Good video though!

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