Ever wondered why there are cheap cucumber slices in your expensive ikura, or salmon roe, sushi?
While it may look as if it’s a restaurant tactic to shortchange customers, adding those vegetables actually does serve a purpose, according to RocketNews24.
For those trying out sushi for the first few times, most would prefer to go for the lighter (or cheaper) varieties which contain cooked shrimp or egg. Moving up the sushi hierarchy ladder, they will eventually be trying ikura sushi.
While it is one of the most expensive varieties of sushi, ikura certainly does not disappoint in its consistency and refined flavor. Most people would set it apart as their favorite despite its pricey cost.
However, some diners would frown upon the usual inclusion of thin cucumber slices inside its seaweed wrapping, which is quite common in Japanese and international restaurants.
So, why is it so? Are these restaurants out to swindle people by filling up orders with inexpensive veggies?
It turns out, cucumber slices are there to improve the flavor of the ikura sushi if the right sushi etiquette is followed.
According to sushi connoisseurs, sushi components can be divided into two sup-parts: the rice with vinegar part (shari in Japanese) and the toppings (neta).
And while sushi is supposed to be to be eaten with soy sauce, it is not advised to dip the rice part in the soy sauce as it will ruin its “subtle flavors”.
The right way to do it is to turn the sushi upside-down with the chopsticks and apply just a touch of soy sauce to the topping. After doing so, quickly place the entire piece inside the mouth, consuming it in one go. Such technique is fine for sushi varieties with fish strips that are firmly pressed into the rice.
Ikura sushi is a bit trickier as it is placed loosely on top of the rice since pressing it in would ruin their texture. Using a similar technique in turning the ikura sushi upside down would then cause all of the roe to fall off the rice.
The proper way to do it is to remove the cucumber slices using chopsticks, dip them in soy sauce, and then place them on top of the roe. Such steps would ensure that the toppings are seasoned just right while maintaining the purity of the rice.