In defence of grocery store sushi

At a time when spicy tuna rolls have become as common as tuna fish sandwiches, it can be difficult to imagine things ever being different. But the concept of eating raw fish and seaweed wasn’t always so mainstream. When sushi was first brought to North America in the 1960s, many sushi chefs struggled to attract diners unfamiliar with the glories of nigiri and maki.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that there would be disputing accounts of the creation of the California roll — a clever concoction of cooked crabmeat and inside out rice. Looking to broaden sushi’s transcontinental appeal, it would seem that more than one chef introduced something to appease diners who couldn’t yet stomach the more daring combination of raw fish and seaweed. The roll’s popularity encouraged sushi chefs to take even more liberties with familiar American ingredients, including fresh fruit and cream cheese. By the time the 1970s rolled into the 1980s, sushi as we know it was everywhere. And our appetite for the stuff has hardly slowed down since.

From highbrow omakase experiences to convenient grab-and-go takeout counters, most of us are happy to indulge in sushi at a variety of price points and service styles. But there remains one outlier in the world of raw fish and rice: supermarket sushi. Painstakingly feared and notoriously questioned, a quick Google search for “grocery store sushi” reveals countless internet users turning to forums to ask about the safety of pre-packaged salmon rolls. Suggested top searches on the subject include “How long does grocery store sushi last?” and “Is grocery store sushi safe?”

It makes sense that pre-packaged raw fish might lead to some hesitation, but the majority of our concerns about grocery store sushi are not only misguided; they’re flat out wrong.

The problem begins with our outdated notions of what constitutes grocery store maki, nigiri and sashimi. Fifteen years ago, most supermarkets were limited to carrying a scare selection of California rolls with browning avocado and mushy imitation crab meat, plus a few basic maki rolls, if they sold sushi at all. Of course it’s still possible to find the occasional miserable looking California roll at your local supermarket. But countless grocers have also started offering full-service sushi counters designed to provide restaurant quality sushi right next to the deli meats.

Take Vancouver’s Urban Fare. With locations across the lower mainland, the grocer serves handcrafted sushi made fresh to order with certified Ocean Wise seafood. On multiple visits to their Shangri-La location on a quiet stretch of Alberni Street, two sushi chefs worked diligently to carve ruby red strips of sockeye salmon sashimi and place them, in generous portions, in takeaway containers available for just $10.99 — a steal for any quality sashimi lunch.

Meanwhile supermarkets across Toronto, including Pusateri’s, McEwan’s and Whole Foods, have been elevating their sushi offerings to similarly high degrees. Where Whole Foods serves OceanWise sockeye salmon nigiri at accessible price points, Pusateri’s and McEwan’s employ experienced sushi chefs to create a range of appealing offerings, including green dragon rolls …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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