The Art of Sushi
Have you ever felt guilty while eating sushi – in spite of its obvious health benefits – because you thought you were destroying a work of art? If so, you’re not alone. Truth be told, each piece of sushi is exactly that: the culmination of painstaking years of training, dedication and discipline to create a work of edible art.
You might think that taste is the most important aspect of gourmet food; however, a growing body of research suggests, what Japanese sushi chefs have presumably known for centuries: we eat first with our eyes, our mouths merely follow suit. Of course, smell and taste are important factors, too. However, pleasing aesthetics are an essential attribute of any new/exotic food that hopes to get tried in the first place; no cuisine seems to understand this concept better than sushi.
There’s good reason why we often equate sushi with art – because it is. But if you knew the amount of training and dedication that went into producing this fabulously artful cuisine, you’d likely appreciate it even more. In this article, we’ll explore the training and preparation behind this quintessentially Japanese cuisine and discuss why these edible works of arts are the perfect brain food for creatives.
Rigorous Training & Meticulous Preparation
Becoming a sushi chef in Japan requires ten years of training and apprenticeship. After spending approximately five years working with a master chef, the apprentice is given their first important task related to making sushi: preparation of the sushi rice. The rice is prepared according to the strict instructions of the senior chef, and each sushi restaurant has its own ‘secret’ recipe of rice, salt, and rice vinegar. Once the master chef is satisfied with the consistency of the sushi rice made daily by the apprentice, the apprentice may then be promoted.
This promotion puts the apprentice in a more prominent location, next to the master chef, where their duties expand to include daily preparation of the fresh ingredients, such as preparing blocks of fish, grating ginger and slicing scallions. Eventually, the apprentice might begin to prepare sushi for clients with take-away orders. The apprentice also learns the proper ways to interact with and treat the restaurant’s customers by observing the senior chef. Only after additional years of training can the apprentice attain the status of master sushi chef.
Edible Art (Beauty is in the Ephemeral)
There’s an idea that underpins the aesthetics of beauty in Japan, especially as it pertains to the natural world – mono no aware; literally translating as ‘the pathos of things’, there’s a lot of meaning packed into these three small words. They express the bittersweet realization of the ephemeral nature of all things – the awareness that everything in existence is temporary. The fleetingness of youth, the fading of romance, and the changing of seasons are not to be mourned, but cherished and appreciated in their impermanence, for that is where their beauty comes from.
From the spectacular cherry blossoms of spring to the magnificent, winter ice sculptures in Nagano – their fleeting nature is the very essence of what makes them beautiful. Nothing in the culinary world epitomizes this idea more than sushi. So, you shouldn’t feel guilty for indulging in the beauty and delicious flavours of this edible art, but rather should allow yourself to savour the moment all the more.
Don’t settle for less than the Real McCoy
There are original masterpieces and there are cheap facsimiles of those works; no matter how accurate the print, it can never capture the textures or the precise hues of the original. In a similar manner, there is real, freshly prepared sushi made by a master chef, and there is pre-packaged, shop-bought sushi that’s been on the shelf for half a day; the latter is just a facsimile – and a stale one at that – of the former. You should never settle for anything less than the real deal – sushi made fresh by a trainer master sushi chef.
The Ultimate Brain Food
In addition to being a work of art, sushi is also one of the best brain foods; just as a work of art nourishes your mind metaphorically, sushi can literally nourish your brain. The essential fats, or Omega 3 fatty acids in the fish, nourish and repair brain cells, improving memory and cognitive function. As fish is also rich in protein and essential fats, it helps focus the mind, increase concentration and maintain energy, making sushi a perfect lunchtime option during your working day. Therefore, eating regular sushi meals is beneficial for all ages in order to help protect the brain and maintain healthy cognition function.
Sushi is a multidisciplinary craft that produces a multisensory work of art. Visual eminence is not the only aspect of sushi which a student has to learn about before they can become a master of sushi. The taste of the sushi is just as important; the fish must be fresh, and no ingredient should be overpowering. Sushi is an act of balancing tastes so that everything works together to become a masterpiece.
At Sapporo, we’re masters in purveying ephemeral works of art in the food we proudly serve. If you’d like to experience the delights of Japanese cuisine, stop by our sushi bar in Liverpool or our sushi bar in Manchester, where you’ll find that our sushi truly is inspiring.