While a person who prepares cuisine is commonly referred to as a cook or chef, in the world of sushi cuisine, such a person is known as itamae, or sushi artisan. An itamae is someone who has completed a strict course of study to master specialized, culinary techniques.
These techniques involve a series of tasks, including molding the sushi, packing it into a box and pressing it, winding it around with a dish towel, and rolling it with a bamboo mat. They are all carried out by hand and require an artisan’s expertise. Most likely, sushi cuisine is the only type of cuisine in the world that makes use of the hand to complete a dish. For the sushi artisan, the hands are business assets.
For this reason, he treats them with care every day, and is always mindful about hygiene when preparing sushi, completely devoted to assuring safety for customers without compromising flavor.
The mark of a professionally prepared rolled sushi is a core properly positioned in the center and wrapped just enough to make the shari keep its shape.
Nigirizushi such as anago (sea eel) and shako (giant clam) are flavored with some nitsume spreading, which is said to be distinctive to a restaurant.
There are nigiri sushi (hand-formed sushi) flavored with soy sauce or sprinklings of salt to accentuate the taste of the topping or filling.
The wasabi is a distinctively Japanese spice, and the bitterness and aroma of this spice grated on the spot are indispensable to sushi.
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