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THE IDIOT’S GUIDE: SUSHI Pt. 3 (Variety)

The Varieties by Gabriel Spieler

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to know about the stuff, there is only one piece of advice I have left for you—BE ADVENTUROUS! It’s great that you love the California Roll, but for God’s sake try something new as well. If you’re a vegetarian/vegan, your options are somewhat limited, although there is a whole range of Japanese fresh vegetables and pickles out there. But, if you eat seafood like me, a whole wonderland of exotic edibles awaits. All you have to do is muster up the courage the next time you go out. Start out with something simple and cooked, like inari (sweet tofu), tamago (egg), or shrimp. Eel might sound funky, but it is always cooked, and one of the most consistently delicious things on your typical sushi menu. (Remember, they are just elongated fish!) If you like any of these things, which I’m betting you will, move onto the raw stuff: tuna, salmon, yellowtail, red snapper, etc. Depending on the restaurant, more obscure items such as halibut, Spanish mackerel, and amberjack may be offered. If you are willing to spend and the restaurant has it, get toro (fatty tuna) or otoro (extra-fatty tuna), which literally melts in your mouth. If you’re an adventurous eater already, I encourage you to order squid, octopus, scallop, sweet raw shrimp, uni (sea urchin roe), ikura (salmon roe), and ankimo (monkfish liver). While monkfish liver might seem bizarre, its flavor profile and texture aren’t nearly as bizarre as the more benign sounding raw shrimp or octopus. I love eating these things, but they are slimy and can be a textural nightmare for some. Sea urchin roe is another favorite of mine, but it too is a bit slimy. If you’ve breezed through all of these things without a second thought and you’re a total badass, there is one thing left for you to try. Although incredibly hard to find in the United States outside of New York City, fugu (pufferfish) is available in restaurants throughout Japan. I’ve personally never eaten it, but it is supposed to be incredibly delicious and wonderful. While there is nothing insane about the flavor or texture of this fish, the taboo behind eating fugu stems from the fact that improper preparation can lead to contamination of tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin that will paralyze and slowly suffocate an unlucky consumer. For this reason, be extremely cautious about where you eat fugu, if you choose to eat it at all. It is also important to realize that all fugu chefs in Japan and the U.S. must go through a rigorous licensing process before they are allowed to handle the fish, but there are still occasional accidents. Fugu might be a little extreme, but regardless of how adventurous you are, remember that anything new that you try could become your new favorite food. And now for some restaurants…to be continued in the next part 

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