Sushi is arguably Japan’s most popular contribution to the world. The compact, bite-sized portions typically consist of vinegared rice, topped with fresh fish, vegetables, seaweed, or other lightly cooked or raw seafood. Nowadays, people are becoming increasingly health conscious and since sushi is low in all the dreaded c-words - like calories, carbs, and cholesterol - it is becoming one of the most viable options for those who wish to eat nutritious fare without packing on the pounds.
The icing on the cake as regards the nutritional value of sushi is the fact that it is extremely heart-friendly, as it is low in saturated fats. Sushi made with seafood is rich in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. Seaweed, a regular sushi accompaniment, provides the benefits of iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, and folic acid. The fresh vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals.
The health benefits of sushi are numerous, but it must be remembered there are umpteen ways to prepare this dish and not all of them are healthy. Fried tempura items and condiments like mayonnaise and cheese can be fattening. Too much sushi can send sodium and mercury levels soaring, and one always assumes the risk of food-borne illnesses as it is often eaten raw. That being said, experts have opined that the health benefits outweigh the risks associated with sushi.
Some believe sushi is a simple dish to prepare, as it does not call for a lot of cooking. But that is not the case. Sushi chefs, or itamae, undergo years of rigorous training under master chefs before they are allowed the honor of creating these exquisite culinary masterpieces. Skilled chefs incorporate special techniques into their craft such as dipping their hands in cold water laced with vinegar in order to keep the fish cool and germ-free. They always work quickly and with concentration in order to provide their customers with a taste treat they will never forget.
There are many types of sushi. Nigiri-zushi is the commonest variety. It is composed of a piece of seafood placed on vinegared rice, seasoned with a touch of horseradish or wasabi, and wrapped in seaweed. Maki-zushi is made with a thin bamboo mat that is used to roll up a cylinder of rice and a morsel of fish or vegetable. Sashimi is an assortment of finely sliced fish accompanied by a number of garnishes. Temaki and chirashi are variations of maki and sashimi respectively. Inari-zushi is made up of rice and vegetables rolled up in fried tofu.