I have no memory of having “real” sushi until I was seven or nine years old. Even then, it was not exactly “real” sushi as they were at Kaiten Zushi restaurant, not at a boutique sushi bar. As a child, my father never took us to a sushi restaurant where you would sit down at a sushi bar and order omakase or whatever you like. As a matter of fact, I cannot remember any occasion where all of our family went out to a sushi bar at all.
The only memory of sushi we had at our home was Temaki Sushi dinner. Temaki is one of the most popular ways for Japanese to have sushi at home. The other form is Chirashi, vegetables, and fish scattered over a bed of sushi rice. Both Temaki and Chirashi are very economical and easy to make since you don’t need a lot of fish and use vegetables instead.
In the US and many parts of the world, people thinks of fish when they think of Sushi. In fact, sushi is more than fish. According to one theory, the word Sushi is said to be an abbreviated from of the word “Su•Meshi,” which means vinegared rice in Japanese. So by definition, as long as you use Sushi rice, it can be called Sushi whether you use fish or not. Indeed, there are many forms of vegetable Sushi in Japan. Chirashi can be both only vegetables or a combination of fish and vegetables.
Temaki is a hand roll sushi. At home, all you need to do to prep for temaki is to cook sushi rice, cut some vegetables like cucumber, shiso leaf, pickled radish, buy a sashimi fish pack at a supermarket, make some tamago- egg custard and put them on a large plate along with nori seaweed. Everyone picks up a sheet of nori and put whatever fish and vegetables they want, roll it up in their hand and eat it. It’s that simple. Temaki is very simple to make, and almost anyone can make it without training. Hold a sheet of nori in your have, place some sushi rice using shamoji, the rice paddle, pick up any filling you like, roll it from the bottom up, turn to form it like an ice cream cone. When it comes to cut rolls, some mothers in Japan can make them, but not all of them. Nigiri is something only trained professional sushi chefs can make, so naturally, temaki dinner is the most convenient and easiest to do to enjoy the fresh fish available at the supermarket. Fish sashimi pack had standard fish, tuna, tai, hirame or other white fish, squid, octopus and sweet shrimp if lucky, if not occasional hamachi. There was no salmon when I was growing up. Salmon sashimi and sushi only became popular in the 90s in Japan. Sweet shrimp was one of my favorites, and I loved Natto Maki, fermented soy beans, notoriously famous for its foul smell. I also liked the garnish in the sashimi pack, called Tsuma, a thin strip of daikon radish that was white and half translucent. It tasted great when dipped in soy sauce, kind of refreshing and palette cleanser after raw fish.