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Iron Chef Morimoto's Four Rules for Eating Sushi (Like You Know What You're Doing)

December 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM | by | ()

Morimoto demonstrates how much wasabi is perfect for a single piece of sashimi

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa.

Contrary to popular opinion, Napa's not only about the wine. Sure, that's a lot of the attraction, but you've got to eat something at some point to keep the drinking and drink appreciation going. That's where restaurants like Morimoto Napa come into play.

As the Flavor! Napa Valley festival only allows chefs with Napa restaurants to participate, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto took the opportunity to share the basics of precision sushi preparation.

Even if you're better at ordering in than turning out beautiful rolls, Morimoto has some tips. In addition to the fun fact that sushi is actually finger food (though chopsticks are of course plenty fine), he's shared with us his four laws of eating sushi. Take notes if you're Japan-bound!

No mixing. "Don't mix wasabi in the soy sauce. AGAIN. Do not mix the wasabi in soy sauce!" Can Morimoto be any clearer? That said, we're totally guilty of this.

No 'special rolls.' "Americans ask, 'what's your "special roll?"' I don't have a 'special roll.' All this is my 'special roll!'" With that, Morimoto gestured to the veritable buffet of fresh fish before him. He's right, too; go to Japan and you won't find California or Philadelphia rolls, and definitely not ones that look like a Disney chef was in charge. Leave the "ninja roll" to your local, strip mall sushi place.

Dip the fish. "Fish side down for dipping into the soy sauce. This takes balance, but it is necessary." This goes for sushi and sashimi; whatever side has the most fish, that's the one that should get the soy sauce treatment.

One bite. "Some females say, 'oh, I can't do it! One bite is too big!' But you must do it."

You know what this means, right? Tonight is totally sushi night. If you didn't know this sushi-eating etiquette before, be sure to practice before sauntering into a restaurant in Tokyo and wondering why the chef seems so offended. It's probably a wasabi-soy faux pas!

We attended Flavor! Napa Valley as a guest of Napa Valley Tourism, but rest assured all photos, opinions, and sloppy sushi rolls are our own.

[Illustrations: Andy Miles; Photos: Cynthia Drescher]

Archived Comments:

Maybe Not

The trick I learned from watching fellow sushimongers in Japan is to take the fish off of the rice, dip that in the soy sauce, then place it back. Helps to reduce the "risk" of the rice falling apart. Also, you can DEFINITELY find various "American" rolls in Japan. In fact, one place I frequent in Ikebukuro takes advantage of our disgraceful ways while simultaneously sabotaging their own- an avocado natto roll. Also, kind of odd how kaitenzushi places in Japan have plenty of mayonnaise on tap (or on top) yet whatever is consumed in the US is taboo. Of course, I'm not referring to the high end places...