SUSHI: The procedure of making sushi
actually started many centuries ago as a method of preserving fish. The process of making
sushi was by marinating the fish & compressing it. A sushi bar may use marinated fish
or completely raw fish. The Kosher status of the marinade ingredients must be ascertained.
The most important ingredient in sushi is fresh, high quality fish. When purchasing fresh
fish one should make sure the eyes are shiny & clear, & the skin should also be
shiny, bright & firm to the touch. Saltwater fish rather than freshwater fish is the
more common fish used because it is less likely to have parasites. The cooking process
destroys the parasites in freshwater fish. As per a 1990 FDA advisory, it is recommended
that fish served raw, marinated etc. to be frozen at -10F for a few days to destroy the
parasites. The taste & texture may be slightly affected by the freezing process. Some
of the more common types of kosher fish used in sushi are; Salmon, tuna, halibut, red
snapper, mackerel, albacore, sea bass etc. The non-kosher fish utilized in sushi are; eel,
octopus, squid, clam, scallops, crab, etc. The types & methods of purchasing fish for
the kosher consumer are addressed at length in the fish articles on this site.
The short grain rice is used for sushi, as it will cook into sticky rice. The rice
should be checked for infestation before using. Rice preferably should purchased in a
plastic bag & should be checked first that the bottom of the bag does not contain what
appears to be rice flour substance, as it may be caused by infestation. The rice should be
washed well until the water runs clear, to remove the talc or starch from the rice. It
should be ascertained that the rice had a religious Jewish individual partake in the
cooking process. Sushi vinegar that is added to the rice is actually common white vinegar
that has sugar, salt, (MSG) added to it, & may contain a variety of other ingredients.
One should check the kosher status of the vinegar & the other ingredients as vinegar
may be made from wine or other non-kosher ingredients or process.
The green nori wrap that is commonly used for the sushi is seaweed kelp that is usually
cleaned, dried & pressed into sheets. It is common to have in the nori wrap
"seahorses" which of course are not kosher. There are nori wraps with kosher
supervision available in the market. A little while back we found in the market nori wrap
with a kosher supervision & it was infested with seahorses. We notified the kosher
supervising agency & they subsequently removed the kosher certification completely.
There have been changes instituted in the cleaning process & the kosher certification
is back on the product. The nori wrap must be checked very carefully for seahorses &
other foreign material preferably over a light box. A light box is commonly used for photo
negatives, x-ray-reading etc. There are some other ingredients put into sushi too, such as
avocado, cucumber, mushrooms, ginger, pickled radish & imitation crabsticks etc.