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Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Sushi?

For those who might be interested in learning more, my book The Story of Sushi has answers to all these questions and much, much more; check it out here. Named a Best Food Book of the Year by Zagat, an Editor's Choice by The New York Times Book Review, and the Best American Food Literature Book of the Year by the Gourmand Awards. I also host educational sushi dinners in New York.

@Larikatz: Funny!

Fish Expert Trevor Corson on Quasi-Fish

Update from Trevor Corson:

I have a habit of visiting Finland, and just discovered that the so-called "Swedish" fish candy actually appear to have originated not in Sweden, but in Finland. Yet another cultural revelation that should make my Finnish friends both angry and proud.

Beware the Fatty Sushis


You can get the same amount or more of omega-3s from fish that are lower on the food chain and/or not farmed, and thus much safer for you to eat because they'll be lower in mercury and other toxins, as well as being better environmental choices -- mackerels and sardines are good examples of very good omega-3 fish, which are also very tasty when properly prepared.

The fish flesh doesn't have to be full of fat for you to get the omega-3s. Indeed, there are big problems with the whole agenda promoting the consumption of fish for omega-3s. Farmed salmon, for starters, often don't even contain anywhere near the amount of those healthful fatty acids that wild salmon would, and that the fish-farming industry would have you believe, partly because more and more the farmed fish are being fed with vegetable-oil based feed. And in eating enough toro to get omega-3s, you're exposing yourself to such a high mercury risk that it's not worth it.

It makes much more sense, I would suggest, not to choose the seafood you eat in order to get a supposed supply of omega-3s, and instead just to take omega-3 tablets manufactured from relatively sustainable stocks of fish like mackerel, sardines, and anchovies, which are low on the food chain -- these supplements are also filtered to remove any toxins as well. That is what I do.

And I find I don't really miss the salmon and toro at the sushi bar, because I've come to find the fattiness of those fish too cloying, and I now prefer the more interesting and subtle tastes and textures of other, leaner fish.


Beware the Fatty Sushis

Seyo: I have not found much in the way of health & environmental stats on yellowtail, but they are nearly all farmed in a way similar to the way salmon are farmed, and salmon farming raises a whole host of health & environmental problems, so generally I avoid the usual yellowtail at the sushi bar for that reason.


Surprise: Being Dropped in Boiling Water Hurts

Dear Stiv61,

Researchers have done studies on this "slow warming" method, among others, and if lobsters can feel any pain at all, this method was actually determined to make things worse for the animal. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings.

Surprise: Being Dropped in Boiling Water Hurts

This whole debate over whether or not lobsters feel pain drives me crazy -- and I wrote THE BOOK on lobsters! ("The Secret Life of Lobsters" by Trevor Corson.) The headlines always make it seem as though settling this debate one way or another is going to impact lobster eaters. If we're being honest with ourselves, it shouldn't make one iota of difference.

Let's be clear: if we're not vegetarians, we're responsible for the daily slaughter of all sorts of sentient creatures that most certainly do feel pain. If you're going to eat meat, and you have a conscience, the issue is finding meat from animals that have been treated and killed in as humane a manner as possible.

Lobsters are no different. I've followed the scientific arguments about lobster pain closely for several years and I'm unconvinced that we know much one way or the other. So I decided I would just assume that being boiled alive is likely to hurt. In which case, we should kill lobsters quickly and humanely before putting them in the pot. It's that simple. Here's how to do it:

The squeamish reactions to killing a live lobster that many of us have are, I think, a direct indicator of how far removed we've become from our food. The lobster is pretty much the last animal that most of us still encounter alive before we eat it. And it's clearly a shock to come face to face with what we're doing.

But it's also an opportunity -- a profound one -- to reconnect with the web of life that we both exploit and depend on. If you eat meat and you get through the experience of killing a live lobster, trying slaughtering a goat next -- which I have done -- and see how that makes you feel. It might turn you into a vegetarian, but if you continue as a carnivore, you'll certainly never eat meat thoughtlessly again.

Photo of the Day: RIP Tomato

Reminds me of what Anthony Hopkins did to that guy in "Hannibal." Yum!

Sushi Chefs: Can We Talk?

Trevor Corson here.

Ed, I have to disagree with you. Part of the point I was trying to make in my article is that the stoicism of our sushi chefs isn't "hundreds of years of cultural breeding" at all. In Japan, the reputation of sushi chefs going back to their (relatively recent) beginnings in the 1800s is one of boisterous camaraderie with their customers, and that's certainly what I experienced in Japan. Their stoicism here in the U.S. has more to do with simple cultural arrogance, and I don't think it's unreasonable to ask them to change, and treat us as equals to their customers back home.

In fact, I'd go so far as to argue that we're perpetuating an unhelpful stereotype by arguing that sushi chefs are entitled to their stoicism.

Annien brings up a legitimate concern -- the language barrier. In my experience, chefs with a positive attitude are perfectly capable of making the effort to transcend the language barrier, even with limited English skills.


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