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On my wonderful daughter Siri’s most recent visit, we started our Sushi To Dai For dinner with Negi Hama (yellowtail tuna and green onion) and Alaska (king salmon and avocado) sushi rolls. Yum!

Welcome back, my friends! Hope you enjoyed our #PetiteSirah tasting at #Copia in the #NapaValley!

Today, for #FlashbackFriday, we’ll zipline across the Pacific to Japan, to indulge in one of my long-time favorite culinary treats – sushi.

Believe it or not, when I first started writing about food and wine, sushi wasn’t even on the radar.

Now, not only do we find sushi bars just blocks apart, vying to invent the coolest, flashiest rolls, but even no-frills supermarket chains – around here at least – all have their in-house sushi stations.

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A gorgeous (and luscious) special roll with tuna and avocado inside, hamachi (yellowtail) and raw salmon outside, topped with tobiko (flying fish roe). Great contrast of texture too, with the smooth, succulent sliced fish and crunchy little pop-in-your-mouth eggs.

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At Sushi to Dai For, my daughter Siri samples a “daily special” inside-out roll with tuna, salmon, avocado, and a volcano of deep-fried soft-shell crab at the center. Yum!

Surprisingly, the word sushi in Japanese has nothing to do with fish, either raw or cooked.

It actually means “sour rice” – referring to the vinegar (with sugar and salt added) that’s mixed into the cooked short-grain rice while it’s still hot.

The sliced fish itself is properly termed sashimi.

Meaning “pierced body” or “pierced meat,” the word dates back 500+ years, to the days of samurai swords.

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At home, I seldom make sushi – but I can get perfect little 5- to 6-ounce blocks of sushi/sashimi-grade fish at my favorite pan-Asian market, 99 Ranch. Here, I’ve sliced and arranged fresh raw tuna, salmon, and yellowtail as sashimi on a bed of shiso (perilla) leaves.

At virtually every Japanese restaurant I’ve ever been to, most if not all of the fish selections available as sushi are also on the menu as sashimi.

These include maguro (lean bluefin tuna), hamachi (yellowfin tuna) and sake (salmon).

Even various kinds of raw meat or poultry, sliced right, can be called sashimi.

 

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Japanese restaurants don’t usually offer much of a dessert selection (although I do love green tea ice cream). Instead, I usually finish my meal with some unagi (freshwater eel) sushi, with its sweet, brushed-on sauce. Thanks, Siri – that’s just right!

Like sushi, sashimi tends to be quite pricey, because of the need for absolute freshness.

But sometimes, if it’s a choice between spending $25 for a couple of pristine sushi rolls plus a little pitcher of hot sake, or a basic pasta dish and tumbler of house red wine – well, I can make pretty decent pasta myself.

And culturally, the feeling of “going to Japan” for an hour or two makes the cost that much more tolerable.

 

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Takeout sushi + good Napa bubbly!

More takeout + Spanish cava!

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I sliced this slab of salmon in half lengthwise, and cooked the pieces until caramelized on all 4 sides. That’s one way. Tonight I’ll keep the filet whole, cook it skin-side down, baste it with the pan sauce and keep it medium-rare.

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Well, my friends, it’s just about dinner time – and I have a lovely slab of salmon lined up. This time I’ll be cooking it – cast-iron pan, ghee (clarified butter) – and something like a sake-miso-wasabi-yuzu pan sauce (think sweet, salt/umami, spice, tang).

Meanwhile, should I pour sake with my salmon? Or bubbles (see pix, above)? Why not some of each!

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Until next time,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

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Cheers,
Rosina


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