We can all agree on when referring to Japanese food we immediately think of sushi. We all tried it at least once and most us even tried to make it at home. Even though its bite-size pieces its so difficult to master and even harder to perfect. We, at the Oyster Bar, believe that is important to travel back to the roots, the very beginning of history of sushi to really understand what sushi is all about.
Almost two thousand years ago, there was a need to keep seafood fresh for consumption for long periods of time, especially in winter when fishermen were not having much luck. This need lead to a method called preservation were people kept the fish in barrels containing fermented rice for long periods before consumption (up to a year). They figured out that by following this technique, even though the rice was thrown away, they were able to feed of seafood even in the coldest months.
Photo credit first we feast
Over the period of time, vinegar was introduced to the Japanese culture which helped with the fermentation process by soaking the rice in, thus creating a sour rice and a better taste. Fish was then salted and wrapped in this fermented rice to keep it fresh. The fermentation time was reduced and people started feeding on the rice as well as the fish where the barrels were opened within a month of the beginning of the process.
Photo credit first we feast
After centuries this sour rice along with raw seafood lead to an early form of modern “makimono”, made using nori, a type of seaweed.
Photo credit Jennifer Raye
Nori is regularly used as a wrap for sushi and onigiri (rice balls). It is made by shredding eatable seaweed sheets made from a kind of red algae called Porphyra, a cold-water seaweed grown and attached to nets. The plants need approximately 45 days from seeding until the first harvest. With the help of highly automated machines it is pressed, to drain excess water, and then shaped to squares where it is then toasted. The final product is a paper-thin, black, dried sheet of black seaweed.
Nowadays, sushi considered to be a traditional Japanese delicacy, consisting of a small piece of varied ingredients such as mainly seafood, vegetables, occasionally tropical fruits and prepared with vinegared rice (sour rice). It is almost always served with soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger.
We, at the Oyster Bar set a goal to create elegant and tasteful makis, nigiri and gunkan using the best ingredients with no artificial flavours and over-sweet sauces. The rice should be kept clean, fresh, at room temperature and properly cooked soured and seasoned. The primary raw seafood is as fresh as it can be and we keep the right proportions of rice towards the other ingredients.
So, no under-stuffed rolls, full of mayo and sweet sauces, just clean flavours which light up the fresh seafood.
One rule – Fresh seafood and sour rice, the two main ingredients. We may only play with textures and flavour combinations.