A La Carte Sushi Options - Sashimi & Nigiri
The a la carte section of a sushi menu is a premiere way to enjoy the best flavors of fresh fish! Simply put nigiri refers to sushi pieces where a cut of fresh fish is served over a small bed of sushi rice while sashimi refers to simply enjoying a cut of fresh fish on its own. Traditionally nigiri is served with a smear of wasabi paste to help glue the fish to the rice. Belly cuts of the fish tend to be best for both sashimi and nigiri. Sashimi is normally served as 2-3 pieces per order and nigiri as 2 pieces.
In America, these dishes are often eaten raw but there are plenty of exceptions to the rule and lots of room to be creative with your sushi. It is the norm to dip these in soy sauce, however, in Japan, it is considered rude to dip the rice of nigiri or bathe the fish for sashimi in soy sauce. This is seen as suggesting that the fish is not fresh nor flavorful enough to be eaten on its own and therefore insulting to the chef. Both are delicious ways to enjoy the highest quality of fish in a sushi restaurant!
History of Sashimi
Sashimi is a traditional way to eat fish in Japan. Either dating to a dish eaten in the Japanese court during the Heian period with a special namasu vinegar and vegetables or to fishermen of the Kamakura period who likely sold slices of their catch raw for a quick snack. These days a chef uses a special, single edged knife to leave the muscle of the fish mostly in tact.
History of Nigiri
Legends say that nigiri and sushi in general was developed by a Japanese woman fearing that her rice would be stolen. She hid the rice among the local osprey nests and found that in time the rice had fermented. When she tried this with the scraps of fish the birds had left behind she found it not only tasty but that the fermented rice helped to preserve the fish. Thus, sushi was born.
The process of serving fish with fermented rice continued to develop from 9th - 16th centuries through the Edo period of Japan. Historians note that nigiri style sushi was probably invented by Hanaya Yohei in the city of Edo. Yohei set up in near a busy bridge where he used a faster process to ferment his rice and used fish so fresh there was no need to preserve it thus changing the trend to eating it raw over a ball of rice.
In modern Japanese sushi restaurants, nigiri is the main dish. It is even considered correct to simply call nigiri sushi as in "I'll take an order of salmon sushi" meaning "I'll have two pieces of salmon nigiri. Sushi rolls are more considered somewhat of an appetizer. Nigiri can be served with raw, grilled, salted or aged fish.
Sashimi & Nigiri at Kizuna
Here at Kizuna, we serve a wide variety of fish as sashimi and nigiri which you can find in the "a la carte" section of our menus. For the most part we serve ours raw. Unagi (fresh water eel) and anago (sea eel) are served cooked and marinated while our madai and ika (squid) is served slightly seared. Special options include trying Unagi on our special black rice! So delicious! Or trying our tako (octopus) with thin sliced lemon. Our nigiri is always served with wasabi by default. All our sashimi and nigiri options come dressed with a special homemade soy sauce. So ask for it without soy if you prefer or with extra special soy on the side free of charge =D
Lastly, any sashimi or fresh fish lover should check out our "Advance" menu section. No, you don't have to call ahead for these. They are merely creative sashimi entrees that are a great deal on sashimi and extra fresh and delicious. They are often served with a homemade ponzu sauce and pico de gallo.