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Wasabi & Ginger: The Dos and Don’ts

Sushi Hoso MakiIt’s Happy Hour, and you’ve decided to order sushi or sashimi for the first time. You may notice a green paste and pink substance sitting on the corner of your plate. Sure, they make for a nice presentation, but do you know what they are and why they’re so essential to your dining experience?

On the other hand, If you’re a veteran sashimi eater, you could probably correctly identify these substances as wasabi and ginger. But, chances are, you’re probably not using them in the right ways.

We want you to be able to enjoy your sushi and sashimi to their fullest potentials next time you’re out for dinner. Keep reading for the dos and don’ts of wasabi and ginger.

Wasabi

What is it?

Wasabi is a Japanese plant from the same family as horseradish, mustard, and cabbage. Its stem (commonly mis-referred to as its root) grows underground and is the part we eat. The stem is either finely grated into a powder or made into a paste, as we typically see it in Japanese restaurants. Wasabi stimulates the nasal passages, providing a hot and cleansing sensation when eaten.

When did it first become associated with sashimi and sushi?

As early as the year 918, wasabi was used in food and medicine. It wasn’t until around the 1400s that people began using wasabi as a condiment with sashimi, and not until the 1800s for sushi.

It was first used because the spicy wasabi counters the scent of the raw fish. It is also believed to have antibacterial properties, minimizing the risks of food poisoning from eating raw fish.

The Dos and Don’ts

  • Do put a small piece of wasabi on the fresh sashimi before dipping it lightly in soy sauce.
  • Don’t add wasabi to your sushi roll. The sushi chef has carefully chosen ingredients and flavors, and adding anything besides a small amount of soy sauce will deter from the intended taste.
  • Don’t mix the wasabi into the soy sauce. The flavors are meant to be enjoyed separately.

Ginger

What is it?

Ginger is a plant that originated in southern China. Its root is used in medicine and as a spice. It is often used to treat nausea, which is why you may have been advised to drink ginger ale when you aren’t feeling well. It is also thought to help aid digestion as well.

How is ginger used in combination with sashimi and sushi?

For the best flavor, young ginger is pickled in a solution of vinegar and sugar. It is sweet and tender, served on the side of your plate.It is used to cleanse your palate between pieces of sushi or cuts of fish, or at the end of your meal. It is used to cover up the smell of the raw fish as well.

The Dos and Dont’s

  • Do eat a thin slice of ginger between bites as a palate cleanser. This will allow you to enjoy the flavors of your next bite even better.
  • Don’t add a piece of ginger to your sushi. This takes away from the flavor of your roll, which has been specially created to have a certain taste.
  • Don’t mix the ginger with soy sauce. These flavors are supposed to be enjoyed separately.

Now that you’re an expert on wasabi and ginger, it’s time to go order up a nice plate of sushi or sashimi! Enjoy your handcrafted meal as it was meant to be. At Shinto Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge, we have a great selection of delicious sashimi for your choosing! Learn more about our menu below.

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