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How to eat sushi? It’s one of those questions that gets asked all over the world, even in Japan.
Sushi has so many historical traditions and techniques that there really are some hard and set rule for how to eat it.
Learning how to eat sushi is actually really simple but there’s so many conflicting guides and ideas around that it can be hard to know which rules are hard and which ones are all down to confusion.
We decided to answer this problem once and for all and who better to turn to for advice on how to eat sushi than the sushi master himself, Jiro Ono.
Jiro Ono was made world famous after the Jiro Dream of Sushi documentary following his restaurant was released. He is seen as one of the world’s leading sushi masters and to help guests who dine at his restaurant follow all the rules, he has produced his own 12 point plan on how to eat sushi correctly.
Here it is - you’ll always know how to eat sushi from now on.
1 - Pick it up with your fingers - It’s fine!
Jiro says that because his sushi is made with an extremely light touch and contains a lot of air - it’s not easy to hold and should be gently lifted to help maintain the shape.
2 - Using chopsticks - also fine!
Jiro says that if you wish to pick up the sushi placed on your tray with a pair of chopsticks you can - but fingers are suggested first. If you are using sticks he says you should think of the sushi as a “portable shrine” - the sticks are the shrine’s “carrying poles”.
3 - Avoid spilling the topping
Gentle, gentle, gentle and always from the right angle - you don’t want to drop the goodness on top of your sushi.
4 - Flavor it with soy sauce
If the sushi chef has not brushed nikiri shoyu on your sushi, pick up a small amount of shoga (pickled ginger) and use it as a brush to apply soy sauce. Jiro says you should “brush it across the top of the sushi topping.”
5 - Eat some shoga
Jiro says you should eat just a pinch of the accompanying pickled ginger - it will cleanse the palate - but never take too much.
6 - Drink tea
Jiro says he believes that tea is the best drink for further palate cleansing.
7 - Don't dip sushi rice into soy sauce
He says this will spoil the flavour of the rice and the fish.
8 - Sweet tsume sauce
Jiro says that if a piece of sushi has already been coated in tsume sauce, you really don’t need to also add soy.
9 - Don't turn nigiri sushi upside down
It might sound a little picky but there’s actually a great reason for this rule. As Jiro says, “If you turn sushi upside down when eating it, your mouth will feel a strange sensation since the rice has a temperature different from your tongue.”
10 - Don't separate the sushi topping
As Jiro says, “pulling off the topping is the greatest insult to the sushi chef”, and we wouldn’t want to do that, would we?
11 - Don't break sushi into two
A piece of well made sushi should fit into the mouth in one bite, as Jiro says, “it should be roughly 6 centimetres long.”
12 - Don't let sushi sit
Sushi should be eaten as soon as it hits your plate or the counter in front of you. “There’s nothing more delicious than sushi that has just been placed on your plate,” says the master.