This site is all about food and we start with Japan. We will then travel to LAO and Vietnam.  I came across the best explanations of Japanese Basics, the Dashi Stock,  Miso Fermented Soybean.  Many items from one country may be the same in other countries so we will try to cover as many as we can.  We credit the explanations to Benihana on Sushi and Sashimi as they work with basic Japanese cuisine in the United States but close enough to the real Japan.  They are many independent Japanese restaurants, some highly rated and expensive in the market with followings and reputations

Our Thanks To Benihana    From their beginning as a family business with one Benihana restaurant in New York to our recognition today as a cultural icon with 77 Benihana restaurants in the United States, Caribbean, and Central and South America, our success continues to be a result of our relationships with our guests, investors and employees. The facts below offer a broad view of Benihana’s past, present and future.

Benihana corporate headquarters located in Aventura, Florida and has more than 7,400 employees. The President and Chief Executive Officer is Thomas Baldwin.  The Company owns 67 Benihana teppanyaki, 4 Haru Sushi restaurants and 20 RA Sushi restaurants and 10 Benihana restaurant franchises

Sushi And Sashimi  —  Whether ordered as an appetizer or enjoyed as the main event, sushi is as diverse as it is delicious. Ordering it for the first time, however, can be a bit intimidating. Understanding the different varieties can help you to order something that you’ll like. In general, every item on the menu will be either sushi or sashimi.  Sushi is further divided into maki, which is sold in rolls, and nigiri, which is sold in pieces. 

Sushi  —  Any pairing of ingredients with vinegar-ed rice and served in bite-size pieces is considered sushi. Contrary to popular belief, sushi has nothing to do with fish at all. Instead, the word “sushi” describes the specific preparation of the rice used in sushi-making. Sushi rice is a specific variety of short-grain rice prepared with rice wine vinegar. The vinegar-ed rice has its own unique flavor and clumps together to enable the creation of sushi rolls and other preparations.
Sushi is often made with fish and other types of seafood. It is also sometimes made with egg or vegetables like cucumber and avocado.

Sashimi  —  Sashimi, loosely translated, means “pierced body,” and it refers to a delicacy of thinly sliced fish or other types of meat. Sashimi is eaten plain without accompaniments aside from soy sauce. This is to allow the flavor of the meat to shine.

Sashimi-grade fish is some of the highest quality seafood. It is caught on a single line rather than a net and is killed and iced immediately upon being landed, allowing it to stay fresh with minimal degradation or build-up of lactic acid. Sashimi-grade fish is the safest and highest quality fish available.

Some of the most popular varities of sashimi include salmon, fatty tuna, yellowtail and squid. In Japan, other types of meat can be served sashimi-style, including chicken, beef and even horse, but these are rarely offered in the US

Nigiri Vs Maki  —  There are two types of sushi: nigiri and maki. They differ primarily in the way they are prepared and presented.

Nigiri is a bite-size rectangular mound of rice topped with a piece of sashimi. There may be a small amount of wasabi between the fish and rice to hold the two together, or a thin strip of toasted seaweed might be used to tie them. The word “nigiri” means “two fingers,” which describes the size of the rice.

Although most nigiri is made with sashimi-grade fish laid over the top of rice, not all nigiri contains raw fish. Some types of seafood, including eel (unagi) and shrimp (ebi) are cooked before being combined with the rice. Tamago nigiri is made with a special kind of sweet egg, similar to an omelet, combined with rice and nori (seaweed).

Maki, on the other hand, is the type of sushi you are probably most familiar with. Maki is made in rolls and sliced into round bite-size pieces. In a maki roll, the fish, vegetables or other ingredients are rolled up inside of seaweed (nori) and vinegared rice. The outside may be sprinkled with fish roe, sesame seeds or other ingredients.

Maki may contain pieces of raw or cooked seafood. However, there are fish-free varieties such as the cucumber roll and avocado roll. If you’d like to try sushi but are nervous about raw fish, you may want to try one of these cooked or vegetarian rolls as a delicious introduction to sushi. Later, if you’re feeling bold, you can try sampling some nigiri or sashimi to see the amazing flavor possibilities of top-quality seafood.

For The Consumer - Sushi Education 101 - Basics

  • Again, Sushi is not raw fish. It is a term for vinegar seasoned rice used in creation of bite sized morsels with fillings. Sashimi is the raw fish sliced and or diced. There is only one grade of Sashimi.  Anything else,  like blowfish,  can kill you if not prepared properly.   Again there is Sashimi Grade raw fish marketed specifically for Sashimi use only.  This not the Salmon and Tuna you see in the grocery store or Sam’s clubs, you cook those.

  • At some other buffets and on blogs I see critics who are “ Flatunionary experts” at Sushi for example and come up with a long technical explanation of the Sushi at a Chinese restaurant.   I go there to eat, not play upsmanship with the dialog. 

  •  If they were in Japan they better bring their banker along and a letter of introduction to some of the Sushi Masters.   It can take up to ten years to become a known Grand Master in Japan.  They start young and maybe doing nothing but cleaning rice for the first two years...  After ten years they might be declared a Master, now they work on a clientele.  They are the modern day ninjas of food.

  •  LOCALLY:  Get real, It’s an add-on.  Go critique a real Sushi bar where you bring your banker along to vouch for the credit card you are using.   Pure Sushi/Sashimi Bars are in another category of cuisine and when I do frequent one I go with a friend who is a Sushi genius master and close my eyes and let him order.   In Japan, you pay, you sit down, the Master provides unique Sushi and Sashimi piece after piece.

  • Sushi masters are always looking at the techniques of the competition and they all have a style of their own.  Four or five years ago he was impressed with
 the spread in a Chinese Restaurant and he felt it was a buy at $12.99-14.99 a person.     All seven or eight of the Chinese buffets in the Tampa bay area must be owned by one person since the Sushi looks exactly the same at all theses places.  It’s what I call common everyday retail Sushi.

  • While sushi has the potential to be very healthy, it also has the potential to be loaded with hidden calories. To enjoy the benefits of this healthy Japanese food, try the following:

  • Keep it simple. Less is more when it comes to sushi. Nigiri is your best pick. Choose a variety of fish to maximize nutrition benefits and minimize potential build-up of contaminants, including mercury. 

  • Avoid restaurants that make their sushi with a lot of rice and skimp on the fish.  The FDA recommends pregnant women should avoid any raw fish, including sushi.

  • Choose your rolls wisely. Watch out for fried fillings, mayo, cream cheese and rolls that are "crunchy." Stick with fish and vegetables.

  • Minimize soy sauce. It is high in sodium and easy to overuse, and, when possible, choose the "lower sodium" version. When using soy sauce, try dipping the fish, not the rice.

Sushi Basics  —  

Japan has some of the leading life expectancies in the world: 80 years for males (ranked eighth in the world) and 87 years for females (ranked first in the world). Japan also boasts the greatest number of centenarians in the world, set to reach 1 million by 2050. Diet has been claimed as the Japanese secret weapon to a long and healthy life. And, one of the most simple and healthy traditional Japanese foods is sushi.

With different types of sushi available, they all have one thing in common — rice. The rice used for sushi is a short-grain rice prepared with vinegar to give it a sticky consistency to help the rice stay together.

Nigiri — Japan's most popular and basic form of sushi — is a piece of raw fish that is placed on top of a small ball of rice. Although raw fish is the most common, tamago (Japanese rolled omelet), cooked or seared meats or fish and vegetables may be placed on the rice. In Japan, this type of sushi is turned upside down and the fish is dipped in the soy sauce rather than dunking the rice.

Maki is a Sushi roll. Nori, or seaweed, is most commonly used as the wrapper to hold everything inside. Typically, nori is on the outside with rice and a filling in the middle. Rolls are very basic in Japan, ranging from cucumbers to natto (fermented soybeans). In the U.S., it's more common to see rolls with the rice on the outside.

Gunkanmaki — sometimes called "battleship" style sushi — is a combination of nigiri and maki. The ball of rice is topped with a less-solid filling (for example, uni, oysters or ikura) and held in place by wrapping nori around the outside, forming a rice "ship" bottom and holding the filling on top.


Wrappings  —  NORI dried seaweed (often used to wrap or belt makizushi or Gunkan)     Rice paper     Salmon skin
Thinly sliced sheets of cucumber     Usuyaki-tamago: thinly cooked sweet omelette or custard   Yuba: "tofu skin" or "soybean skin", a thin film derived from soybeans

Seaweed  —  Kombu     Kelp, many preparations     Wakame Edible seaweed    Sea mustard

Fillings  —  Asparagus     Avocado     Carrot a julienne of carrot     Cucumber      Eggplant     Ginger 
Daikon radish sprouts     
Kappamaki   makizushi made of cucumber     Oshinko Takuan (pickled daikon) 
Shiitake Dried-mushrooms served roasted or simmered     Takuan Pickled daikon radish     
Tofu Soybean curd
Umeboshi pickled plum      Wasabi paste of wasabi root     Yam      Yuba  Tofu skin

Sushi Rolls And Wraps - The American Initiative  —  
Basically, nearly anything that you love in a salad can translate into a roll.   Start with a wrap - think collard greens, lettuce or even large steamed broccoli leaves, nori or rice paper. Then, go crazy with the veggies. However, you'll likely need to cut the veggies smaller than you would for a salad. Grated or matchstick-style carrots, radishes, cucumber, peppers and cabbage add color and crunch. Roasted beets, sweet potatoes, squash and mushrooms bring depth. 

 Finally, those little extras take it over the top. Try a protein boost with thin strips of marinated tofu, shredded roasted chicken, cooked beans or a chopped hard-boiled egg. Consider mixing up homemade pesto, hummus or aioli as a binder too. And when in doubt, add avocado. Then, roll it all up burrito-style and slice.

Need more inspiration? These Instagram posts have us hooked on salad rolls:
These homemade collard rolls with asparagus, carrot and avocado are taken to the next level with whipped feta. 

This is more of a collard wrap than a roll but the featured ingredients work for both. Make the most of leftover roasted sweet potatoes and add black beans, thinly sliced cucumber, chopped endive, avocado slices and microgreens or sprouts. This is rounded out with homemade vegan "parmesan" and a store-bought cashew herb garlic cheese. 

Veggie spring rolls are a favorite takeout staple that are surprisingly easy to make at home — it just might take a little practice to get the technique down. These rice paper wrappers are filled with lettuce, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot and avocado and would be a match for this Sweet and Tangy Peanut Sauce


It's veggie sushi with a raw twist. Filling favorites like carrots, avocado, cucumber and red cabbage are joined by a refreshingly different sushi rice stand-in — raw cauliflower rice. Finish with a sprinkle of hemp seeds.   A note: Nori can be tricky to cut at first, but the satisfying crunch of the fresh vegetables dipped in a bit of soy sauce is worth the effort.


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