Tuna is the king, the Boss Hogg, the Big Daddy and, if you’re thinking of starting your own sushi bar, will usually be the most expensive ingredient on your menu, hence why in Japan up to 10 restaurants will each chip in for one fish. And as with pretty much everything in life, the bigger the better. These things can weigh in at more than 320kg.
Claudio says: “With tuna you’re looking for a very red colour – anything that’s slightly brown is getting old. You shouldn’t be able to taste any iron either. If you do, the fish hasn’t followed the traditional bleeding out process properly.”
Because of its slightly tougher skin, sea bass is often sliced thinner than other fish. As a result, the flavour, which is subtle, has nowhere to hide.
Claudio says: “If you’re eating more than one type of fish in a sitting, then eat ginger between every dish. Ginger is solely on your table as a palate cleanser, so eat it on its own: adding it to the top of your fish or rice is wrong.”
Salmon is an imposter: you’ll never see it on the menus of traditional sushi restaurants in Japan. It’s purely Euro nosh. That said, we’ve an appetite for the fraudulent fish: Claudio says he sells twice as much salmon than he does anything else.
Claudio says: “Soy should only ever touch your fish, never your rice. Dip an edge or corner into the sauce. Seeing people dropping pieces into a bowl of soy is enough to anger a sushi chef.”
When it comes to rolls, anything with rice on the outside is lying to you. “California rolls”, the fat ones you find in the M&S sushi boxes, are an American invention. These seaweed-wrapped blocks are the real Japanese deal.
Claudio says: “As soon as maki hits the table, eat it. The best maki [the seaweed outer layer] shouldn’t be sticky in your mouth, but really dry – a sign of the true roasting process. A good restaurant will only ever cut maki into four or six, too. Never eight.”
Squid is the WWE wrestling of Japanese fish: guys go nuts for it, whereas most lady diners, according to Claudio, can’t get to grips with the rubbery finish. So just like your minute-by-minute analysis of Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s 1988 epic Royal Rumble victory, it’s perhaps best kept off the table during dates.
Claudio says: “This is a massive favourite in Japan thanks to the squid’s texture. Forget adding wasabi to this. Traditionally, like most nigiri, it should be pre-seasoned with wasabi so any more will affect that balance.”
SUSHISAMBA is on the 38th floor of 110 Bishopsgate, London and is presided over by Executive Chef Claudio Cardoso
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