Polk County is home to several beloved sushi restaurants. Connoisseurs of this traditional Japanese cuisine are usually familiar with the lingo. Nigiri? Sashimi? Maki? If these terms don’t strike a chord with you, don’t worry. Understanding the terminology of this fare will help you comprehend what deliciousness awaits you. Here are some things to know:

476027637Maki (mah-kee),
meaning “rolled”

Sushi rolls are very common; many try a California roll (made with cucumber, crab meat and avocado rolled in rice) their very first time. Rice is spread on a sheet of seaweed. It can be flipped, depending on the kind of roll, rice side up or down, and fillings like chopped vegetables and raw fish pieces are layered in and rolled. The outside may be sprinkled with sesame seeds. The roll is then cut, usually in 6-8 pieces.

Nigiri (nee-ghee-ree),

meaning “hand-pressed”

A well-known sushi is the oval shaped nigiri. A small amount of rice is pressed by hand and draped with any of various toppings, typically a piece of specially-cut fresh or smoked fish such as salmon, tuna or eel. In some cases, nigiri sushi uses a small strip of toasted seaweed called nori to bind the mixture together, although this is not obligatory.

462189283Sashimi (sah-shee-mee),
meaning “pierced body”

Sashimi is a typical first course for a formal Japanese meal, but it can also be the main course, presented with rice and miso soup in separate bowls. Traditionally considered the finest dish in Japanese cuisine, it should be eaten before other strong flavors affect the palate. The sliced seafood that composes the main ingredient is typically draped over a garnish. The typical garnish is Asian white radish, daikon,shredded into long thin strands.

The Etiquette of Chopsticks

No matter where you might go to enjoy an Asian meal, knowing how to correctly use chopsticks will be both a handy skill and will add a level of authenticity to the atmosphere. Like learning how to ride a bike, understanding the use of chopsticks is a skill crafted through practice. Having the basics will go a long way towards putting down your fork.
Use Training Wheels – The best chopsticks to use while you’re learning are the disposable wooden ones that many restaurants offer. They aren’t as slippery as plastic or metal ones and are easier to hold in a fixed position.

180528986One, Two, Three – To hold and use a set of chopsticks, you need three fingers. Hold the upper chopstick with the index finger, the middle finger, and the thumb. Put the other chopstick between the bottom of the thumb and the tip of the ring finger.

• The Secret – You only need to move the top chopstick. The bottom should remain fixed. They should also never cross; chopsticks should remain parallel at all times.

• Practice, Practice, Practice –
Start with bigger pieces of food, like a slice of chicken or broccoli. They are easier to maneuver. As you master the art of holding food with your chopsticks, you will find it easier to pick up smaller items and eat rice.

• Enjoy the Experience – It can be a fun experience to learn to eat with chopsticks, so enjoy a great meal with friends or family while you learn something new.