Saturday, September 12, 2009

Supermarket Sushi

     To be completely accurate, the picture above shows not sushi but sashimi - the word sushi refers to the rice, not the fish. Whatever you call it, having it available pre-sliced in individual-serving-sized packs at every supermarket, for about half (or less) what you'd pay at a restaurant, is one of those things that really makes me appreciate living in Japan. I don't even buy it that often (I can't stand the fishy smell that lingers in my drain after washing out the plastic trays for recycling), but knowing it's there is somehow very cheering. It may not be the highest quality sashimi out there, it's as good as any I've ever had in the US and you can't beat the convenience and the price.
     We had already started eating before I remembered to pull out my camera, so the trays you see here are missing a slice or two. On the left is medium-fatty tuna, meaty in flavor and buttery in texture. The top right is katsuo, which is bonito in English although it's not a fish I've seen much on western menus. It's usually served as it is here, slightly seared on the edges, which gives a smoky flavor to what would otherwise be a taste much like tuna. On the lower right is kampachi, which is amberjack, a type of yellowtail. I had to look that up online just now - there are so many more words in Japanese to distinguish types of fish we call all under one name in English. Probably all three of these fish would be called "tuna" in American!
     The occasion of the supermarket sashimi feast was Yuri's first night in Tokyo. I took this picture from the bus on the way to meet him at the airport. Unfortunately for him, he barely even remembers eating dinner that night, he was so jet lagged. However, I was happy to use the occasion to sample all the oishii mono (delicious things) I wouldn't normally indulge in, especially in the space of a single week! We had lots of fun and took lots of pictures, which will be appearing here over the next several days.
     To go with the sashimi, I made a simple salad of cucumber and avocado and steamed some okra. We also had brown rice topped with the peppery little flowers that came with the tuna and figs and nectarines for dessert. But the fish stole the show. Then and there we made a vow to eat as much sushi as we could during his week there ...

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