Drop those chopsticks. Step away from the sushi. And for God’s sake, check yourself on the soy sauce.
There’s an art to eating sushi, a way to not disturb the delicate balance of flavor and texture the chef prepared just for you. So, how do you eat the the quintessential Japanese delicacy of vinegar rice topped with raw fish? With your fingers? Soaked in soy sauce and slathered in wasabi?
We popped into a local sushi joint in Orange County to find out how to put nigiri away like a true boss. We chatted with sushi chef John, a great dude who didn’t scold us for rubbing our chopsticks together, and he agreed to school us on proper sushi etiquette.
First, he started out by telling us what not to do. Don’t dunk on the base — the rice will soak up too much soy sauce (and ruin the flavor), causing the base to disintegrate. Don’t use chopsticks — sushi is a sensual experience and should be eaten with your hands. Don’t pile on the wasabi — this often leads to the subtle flavor of the fish being masked by the wasabi’s intense heat.
Granted, these rules don’t apply to your standard fast food sushi spot or gas station-bought nigiri that need the extra umami.
As our conversation continued, him joking about the myriad of ways he has seen his customers eat the sushi (see above), he confirmed that “If you’re eating from a seasoned sushi master, you won’t need a dipping step. The sushi you’re being served has already been seasoned with a custom blend. You grip the sushi with your fingers, roll it partly over into the soy sauce, and let it fall into your mouth with the fish-side touching your tongue first.”
Here’s a breakdown of the 3 simple steps to eating sushi like a pro.
1. Lightly grip the sushi and roll it over
2. Graze the soy sauce, fish-side only
3. Insert into mouth fish-side down
Shout out to John for teaching us how to boss it up.