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Crab

CRAB
Kani (crab). Crab is served cooked for sushi, and although varieties are available off both coasts in the Lower Forty-eight, most crab served in sushi bars is frozen king crab imported from Alaska. These long-legged, gangly creatures may weigh up to twenty pounds and produce succulent, firm chunks of coral-streaked white meat that are tidy to serve in sushi, but lose much of their flavor in the freezing process. They are caught in ice-cold rough waters off the Alaskan coast, and most ships process the catch on board and ship it out already cooked and frozen.
Frozen crab, although pretty, meaty, and reassuringly familiar, is rather ordinary and may not be worth eating in a sushi bar, unless you aren't ready for raw fish. A popular West Coast aberration, the "California Special," is a rolled sushi made of cooked crab meat, avocado, and mayonnaise rolled in rice and seaweed. It is a tasty and harmless way to introduce someone to sushi, but it is as authentically Japanese as a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.

Fresh Water Eel
 
Makizushi means "rolled sushi" and it is thin strips of fish and vegetables rolled in sushi rice and crisp sheets of seaweed, and then sliced into bite-sized rounds. The seaweed is called nori, and another name for makizushi is norimaki. Although it doesn't occupy the same exalted position as nigirizushi in Japanese cuisine, it is extremely popular and available in sushi bars everywhere.
Makizushi is a particular favorite among sushi neophytes; in fact, it is most people's introduction to sushi, and it is easy for a beginner to like. The hint of raw tuna in a slice of makizushi is a good way to dispel the notion that uncooked fish is creepy.
At first, the thought of nibbling on makizushi's seaweed wrapper may give you pause, but eating nori is only unnerving if you've tried it. It combines the light, seabreeze taste of seaweed with a crackly texture, and its crisp saltiness complements the soft sweetness of sushi rice.
Nori is made from several species of Porphyra seaweed that are washed and spread thin to dry in much the same way that wood pulp is made into paper. Before it is used, nori is toasted to enhance its flavor and texture and turn it a brilliant green.
Makizushi comes in two sizes at the sushi bar. Hosomaki, which means "slender roll," is the most familiar. The chef rolls it with a small, flexible bamboo mat. It is about an inch in diameter and contains one or two ingredients plus rice. Hosomaki makes six bite-sized rounds.
You may also ask for temaki, "hand roll," which is smaller, loosely rolled by hand and given to you like an ice cream cone to be eaten in two or three bites."
Mackerel
 
MACKEREL
Saba is the Japanese term for mackerel; hikari-mono is the more general term that refers to all oily, shiny fish. In general, most people find that saba is "too fishy," but that's the characteristic that totally turns me on about it. Because it's so fishy, a lot of sushi chefs will use citrus juices, vinegars and other types of marinades to make it more palatable.
If you're going to get all crazy and order saba, though, I recommend that you order it a little later in the meal, since the fishiness may linger on the palate, making it harder to taste any of the lighter fish.
Octopus
 
Makizushi means "rolled sushi" and it is thin strips of fish and vegetables rolled in sushi rice and crisp sheets of seaweed, and then sliced into bite-sized rounds. The seaweed is called nori, and another name for makizushi is norimaki. Although it doesn't occupy the same exalted position as nigirizushi in Japanese cuisine, it is extremely popular and available in sushi bars everywhere.
Makizushi is a particular favorite among sushi neophytes; in fact, it is most people's introduction to sushi, and it is easy for a beginner to like. The hint of raw tuna in a slice of makizushi is a good way to dispel the notion that uncooked fish is creepy.

Red Snapper
 
RED SNAPPER
Tai (porgy, red snapper): Although tai, translated as "sea bream," appears on standard sushi menus, the fish the Japanese call tai is not available in the United States. Instead, porgy and red snapper fill in for tai in American sushi bars. Porgy is a close relation to tai, but red snapper is related to the Japanese fish in taste only. Both are sweet, lean fish with broad-flaked pink-and-white flesh.
Salmon
 
SALMON
Sake (salmon): Salmon is perhaps the most easily recognized fish in the sushi case, its bright orange color almost too vibrant to be real. Its taste is equally remarkable, and salmon is treasured as a food fish by all cultures blessed with its migrations. In recent decades, the Atlantic salmon has been nearly wiped out by pollution and is now rare in Europe as well. Only Pacific salmon are still plentiful, and in most sushi bars, varieties from Japan and Alaska are used.
Salmon grow fat and robust in the ocean, then head for fresh water where they swim upstream to spawn. During this heroic journey they do not eat, and they deteriorate rapidly. Only those caught at sea are considered suitable for sushi. Salmon is never served raw in sushi bars; it is lightly smoked or cured for a few days in salt and sugar. It tastes sweet, sometimes smoky, and is always meltingly tender. Occasionally, fresh grilled salmon is served as nigirizushi. Its color is pale peach; its flavor more delicate than uncooked salmon.
In Japanese, the words for rice wine and salmon are spelled identically and pronounced very much the same, leading some people to worry that they may be ordering a bottle of fish by mistake. The word for the beverage is pronounced sah-kay. For the fish, the last syllable is slightly clipped, sah-keh, with an e as in led. If this is too fine a distinction, you can order the fish as sha-kay, as it is pronounced in northern Japan. You will also avoid confusion by ordering your fish from the sushi chef and your beverages from the waitress, as is proper.
Shrimp
 
SHRIMP
Ebi (cooked prawn). Ebi is one of the most popular items on the sushi menu. It is actually jumbo shrimp (a prawn is really a freshwater crustacean, but jumbo shrimp are called prawns in restaurants), and those served in American sushi bars are flown in frozen from Mexico. They are dropped in boiling salted water, then cleaned and split into a butterfly shape. Their firm, striped, pink-and-white flesh is a familiar treat for the sushi beginner timid about eating raw fish.
Ama ebi (raw prawn). The Japanese consider fresh raw prawn one of the greatest delicacies in the sushi case. A cleaned, uncooked jumbo shrimp is glossy, almost transparent, and sweet. Fresh and frozen prawns are widely available -- many varieties are caught on both coasts, but ama ebi is still a rare treat. Few prawns, fresh or frozen, are of a high enough quality to be served raw.
Squid
 
SQUID
100% prepared specifically for sushi and sashimi, simply defrost desired number of pieces for preparations Origin: Japan. This delicious Japanese squid is specially cleaned and prepared for sushi or sashimi. No cutting or cleaning. It is conveniently packaged ready to defrost desired number of pieces and form as nigiri or enjoy as a sashimi treat. Common preparations: Specially prepared squid is a favorite among many sushi bar fans. It is commonly formed into nigiri, enjoyed as sashimi, or embellished with a variety of light seasonings and vegetables.
Tuna
 

Maguro (tuna)
Tuna is the fish most Americans associate with sashimi and sushi -- more of it is sold in sushi bars than any other kind of fish. Raw tuna has a soft, meaty texture and clean taste that win over many sushi skeptics at first bite.
There are many varieties of tuna, but the kind you'll most likely encounter in an American sushi bar is a relatively clean cut of bluefin or yellowfin tuna, both of which are available year round, fresh from American waters. Tuna also freezes well, so there is always maguro in the sushi case. However, as is true for all fish, tuna's quality varies from season to season. Prime specimens are generally caught in the winter, from November to February. Despite its availability and consistent good taste, in the spring and summer tuna may be inferior to less familiar fish that are at their peak. Sample maguro at different times of the year and, as always, seek the sushi chef's recommendation.

Toro (fatty tuna belly)
In Japan, tuna are graded and priced according to fat content -- the fattiest part of the fish is the most prized -- and toro, cut from the tuna's belly, is usually the most expensive item on a sushi menu. Toro is pink and somewhat opaque, and the sushi chef may identify it as chutoro, which is moderately fat, or otoro, which indicates the highest fat content, tuna that is light pink and extraordinarily tender.
Toro is taken only from bluefin tuna, which are abundant in the waters off the East Coast. Bluefin have never been commercially important in the United States except as pet food, partly because the fish are so enormous that they are awkward for fishermen to handle. Many specimens caught are the size of a baby elephant, and when the cat food market is down, they are often thrown back. The same fish flown to Japan could command an exorbitant price.
A taste of toro goes a long way toward explaining why. Its richness and tenderness approach that of butter. In the winter, when toro, like maguro, is at its best, it is a luxurious and tasty delicacy well worth its price. Out of season, however, it may not live up to its reputation or its price tag.

Shiro maguro (albacore)
Albacore is the source of top-grade canned tuna in the United States, where its delicacy and excellent flavor can scarcely be discerned midst the mayonnaise. Its Japanese name means "white tuna," and albacore flesh ranges from rose to pale peach in color. Its flavor is rich but not overbearing.
Albacore meat is so soft that it is difficult to handle. It also changes color quickly in the sushi case, although this does not indicate deterioration. For these reasons, many sushi chefs choose not to serve it. Even when it is available, shiro maguro is almost never on a sushi-bar menu.

Yellow Tail
 
YELLOW TAIL
Hamachi (young yellowtail): Yellowtail is the common name of a number of species of amberjack -- sleek migratory fish similar to the tunas. The japanese variety called hamachi has light golden flesh and may display a dark streak along the edge of a fillet, a characteristic of the two-toned musculature of fish that cruise the open seas. Since hamachi is not listed on many American sushi menus, it may be overlooked. It's one of the most rewarding discoveries you can make at a sushi bar.
Hamachi can be as rich as toro, smooth and buttery with a deep smoky taste, but not as overpoweringly fatty. The area around the pectoral fins is considered the tastiest part and is often set aside for special customers. Some sushi bars grill the skeleton and the bits of meat left on it and serve it as an appetizer or snack.
Although varieties of yellowtail are plentiful in waters off both U.S. coasts, hamachi are usually flown in frozen from Japan, where they are raised in hatcheries and harvested when they weigh between fifteen and twenty pounds -- just right for sushi. Yellowtail caught here are usually too lean to qualify.
Hamachi is available for import year round, but you may have to try a few sushi bars before you find it."