How to Develop a Taste for Sushi
Introducing Sushi to Your Palate
If you didn't grow up eating sushi, the very thought of it can sound disgusting--eat raw fish? And actually pay good money for it?
I wasn't exposed to sushi until after college, and I can still remember how I hated that first bite--it was one meal where I definitely didn't clean my plate. However, I married a man who loved sushi, and friends who love sushi, and my refusal to try it again really limited our eating-out options.
Luckily, you can introduce sushi to your palate and develop a taste--and even a craving!--for the Japanese cuisine.
Read on for ways to develop a taste for sushi, concentrating on starting small and identifying your taste and consistency preferences.
Starting Small to Appreciate Sushi
If you're new to sushi and aren't quite sure it's for you, don't dive headfirst into the hardcore offerings on the menu--they will likely be unlike anything you've ever tasted before, and you may regret your bravery!
Instead, start small. Many sushi places offer fried rolls, which isn't "real" sushi but can ease you into the cuisine and introduce you to the flavors (added bonus, almost anything fried and drizzled in soy sauce is delicious). Or, pick a fried roll topped with raw tuna, since tuna has a mild flavor.
Try one roll, and supplement your order with some edamame, miso soup, or tempura vegetables so you don't walk away hungry.
If you do want to try a raw roll, try a Philadelphia Roll (smoked or fresh salmon, cream cheese or cucumber) or a California Roll (crab meat, cucumber, and avocado). Both rolls offer fairly mild flavor but pleasing consistency.
Also know that sushi rolls aren't only fish, rice, and seafood--they also incorporate a range of vegetables and sauces, so if you try one roll and don't like it, try a different one the next time around!
Thinking About Consistency and Flavor When You Choose a Sushi Roll
If you're a sushi newbie, it won't only be the thought of raw fish that might turn you off from the cuisine--the consistency may also prove a challenge. And it can be hard, when you're used to a diet of cooked food, to appreciate the consistency of sushi--cold, kind of squishy, and completely sounds unpleasant when you think about it.
You can come to appreciate the consistency, though--just don't start with something exotic like sea urchin. Instead, try shrimp, crab, or tuna at first--then move into salmon and yellow tail. From there, if you're finding yourself loving sushi, then try the "harder" stuff like nigiri (basically just fish and rice, not fancied up with vegetables or sauces).
The second hurdle to enjoying sushi can be flavor--if you're not a fan of seafood, you may think you can never enjoy sushi. That's not true! I'm not a seafood fan but do genuinely enjoy sushi now. Tuna, yellowtail, crab, and shrimp have mild flavors but are good introductions to appreciating the cuisine. From there, salmon has a stronger flavor but is still widely enjoyed among those who love sushi and those who don't. If you just can't like something with a "fish" flavor, there are plenty of options available at sushi restaurants that only include the milder meats.
How do you feel about eating sushi?
If You Just Can't Like Sushi
If you've tried sushi several times and just cannot like it, that's fine too--everybody's tastebuds are different! If your friend or spouse is really craving sushi and you're feeling benevolent, you can likely still find something on a sushi menu (soups, salads, and rice and noodle dishes are prevalent at many sushi places).
More commercial sushi restaurants even offer rolls with beef or chicken instead of fish, so those are always an option as well.
Do you love sushi, or loathe it? Tell me your sushi stories in the comments below!