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Sushi Burgers: A Healthy Alternative?

August 1, 2019

If there is anything we need to give Japanese food credit for, it is its ability to give out fresh and clean tasting food that is also really healthy and nutritious. Most of the main ingredients in Japanese cuisine including fish, rice, seaweed, and miso is really nutritious and full of all of the good stuff like essential oils, antioxidants, vitamins and so on. Now, all of us know of sushi and probably have our own favorite rolls and choice of protein, and similarly, a lot of us are now growing familiar with poke bowls, which while not technically Japanese, is beginning to make its way into fusion Japanese restaurants.

Another interesting entrant in the fusion Japanese restaurant scene, and is rapidly gaining popularity is the sushi burger. Yes, a sushi burger is a thing, and yes, it does involve fish between two rice patties. Now, traditional sushi burgers involved steamed rice patties, fresh fish, and then ginger and another light marinade, usually a soy-based one. The use of these fresh ingredients, raw fish especially has made sushi burgers quite popular amongst the health-conscious population. This is because the “burger” is light, contains no extra fats, and is full of good oils and omega 3 fatty acids, making for a really healthy alternative to an actual burger.

Of course, not every sushi burger is healthy, and there are quite a number of ways you can turn the sushi burger unhealthy. The most common way to do it is to get the rice patties and/or the fish fried. Sure, frying food adds for greater texture and experience, but you are essentially introducing a lot of unhealthy fats in it as well, and at the same time, removing the good and healthy components of raw fish. Yes, it can get messy trying to eat a traditional sushi burger since the rice patties tend to fall apart easily, however, you cannot expect the sushi burger to remain healthy if you are getting it fried.

Another great way to completely butcher the low-calorie count in a burger is your choice of sauce. If you are opting for a plain soy sauce or teriyaki sauce in your rice burger then it is still healthy. However, if you end up going overboard with cream cheese, and other cream and fat based sauces, then you are essentially just making up for the lack of calories by getting super unhealthy sauces instead. Plus, when you are adding too much sauce, especially heavy sauces, then you end up losing the taste of the actual fish in the burger since the sauce can overwhelm the fish, and, it also tends to get really messy trying to eat an already fragile sushi burger with heavy sauces inside it. So, a sushi burger can be really healthy if you want it to be, as long you stick to the traditional route. However, if you are someone that is not as health-conscious and just wants to eat the burger your way, then you can do that too.

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Making Sushi at Home

It does not matter whether you have just recently developed a love for sushi, or whether you have been eating sushi for a long period of time because chances are that both of you have dabbled with the idea of making sushi at home. It sounds more practical, and it can end up saving you money in the long run, especially when compared to eating regularly at expensive sushi restaurants. Now, if you are very serious about learning to make sushi, then you will have to be willing to spend extra money to buy the necessary materials that are needed for making sushi, and this is apart from the actual ingredients that you need.

Your sushi will be just as good as your prep work, and the amount of time you have taken to try and learn it. You will not get it right off the bat, instead, it will take a lot of practice and time till you can be comfortable enough to make sushi rolls with ease.

  • The first tool that you will need is Hangiri. A hangiri is essentially a wooden bowl that is used to mix the steamed rice in, and while you can use a regular bowl, the use of wooden bowls helps because it allows for more moisture to be absorbed from the rice, leading to dryer rice that will adhere better and hold its shape.
  • Bamboo mats, also known as makisu, is a very important item that should be in your kitchen from the start. You basically make your sushi on the bamboo mat, and then use the mat to turn your sushi into the rolls that we know and love. So, you absolutely cannot skip out on getting a bamboo mat.
  • Wooden paddles can be used to scoop out and then spread the rice on the mat, and since they are made of wood, they once again lead to better moisture absorption.
  • Nori, also known as seaweed is also an essential part of making sushi. You need nori regardless of whether you are making outside rolls like California rolls or uramaki. Seaweed basically serves as a glue that keeps all of your ingredients intact.
  • Sushi rice is very important, and you absolutely cannot substitute it for any other kind of rice. This short-grain rice is very high in its starch content, and this allows it to be possible for the rice to remain stuck together and have the fluffy texture that we all know and love.
  • Rice vinegar is also an important part of making sushi, and you need it when you are seasoning your rice or it will lack that oomph that you normally find in restaurant sushi.
  • Of course, you will need sushi-grade fish. This will be expensive since it will be the freshest fish that you can find, and when it comes to sushi-grade fish, you want to make sure that you consume it within a day or else the fish will begin to lose its taste.

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Poke Bowls: The Latest Food Trend

We have seen a massive rise in a number of Far East Asian food trends around the world in the past few decades. Sushi is now a staple in a majority of people’s diets, and now snacks and desserts like boba tea, bibimbap, momos, and so on are also making their way into people’s hearts. Now, sushi is pretty versatile, and you can play around with the ingredients as you are making rolls, and one new variant, that is technically inspired by sushi and Japan, but not actually from Japan is poke bowls.

Poke bowls, actually have their roots in Hawaii, contrary to popular belief. In fact, the word poke is Hawaiian for “sections,” which basically explains how the fish has been cut and handled. Traditional poke bowls would use yellowfin tuna, and you can still find those wherever, but as it has become popular, more and more variations have begun to come out. Poke bowls would be served as an appetizer as raw cut fish that was marinated in soy sauce and a little oil so as to keep the proteins intact and fish still fresh.

Now, there are a number of different ways you can customize your poke bowl by opting for other fish options like salmon and even octopus, and then changing your choice of sauce from teriyaki to ponzu, to spicy mayo and so on. Apart from fish, other ingredients that are normally added to a poke bowl can include steamed rice, edamame, and pickled ginger and so on. Poke bowls are already really healthy, however, some people can even substitute the rice for quinoa and add almond flakes and so on.

Now, it is easy to confused poke bowls and ceviche together, however, they are both quite literally worlds apart. Ceviche has its origins in Latin America while Poke bowls were started in Hawaii. While both of them are served as starters, the fish is poke bowl is marinated in a soy sauce base and the fish is kept raw and the proteins inside it intact. However, with ceviche, the fish is actually marinated in a citrus base for a period of type in order to “cure” it. Curing is the process of breaking down the protein in the meat, and since the fish is cut really thin in ceviche, it ends up cooking a little during the curing process, so you are technically not eating raw fish entirely when you are having ceviche.

Poke bowls are a great entrant in the food scene, and they have allowed more room for people to be creative, and the fact that people are able to eat fresh and healthy seafood, with their own choice of protein, sauce, and sides kind of adds to the fun factor. They make for a great meal option during summer heats where our bodies are craving for something light and fresh instead of heavier cooked and greasy foods. So, the next time you get a chance, make sure to give a poke bowl a go.

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