Sushi and Sashimi

Do you know the difference between sushi and sashimi?

If you’re dining at our Bellevue sushi restaurant, it’s important distinguish to make. Confusing the two could mean ending up with a dish entirely different from what you were wanting, or it could at very least look unrefined in the eyes of some of the more dedicated Japanese food aficionados.

A helpful point to understand is that the word “sushi” does not refer to the fish, as many people think. It is an antiquated word that translates to “vinegar rice”, describing the blend of rice and vinegar that goes into sushi’s production. Therefore, it’s not sushi if it doesn’t have rice, but it can be sushi without having fish.

Sushi rolls and nigiri-sushi are both sushi, therefore, even if they are made only with egg, cucumber, or nori. Sashimi, by contrast, is only a piece of fish, and therefore cannot be identified as sushi.

Sushi for Beginners

Never tried sushi before?
If you visit our Bellevue sushi restaurant, you can take the plunge in style with our selection of ideal starter sushi. Even the most squeamish sushi newbie can find something to help them ease into the experience until they’re ready to pack them away like a pro.

All Sushi aren’t Raw
Firstly, it’s a common misconception that all sushi contains raw fish. If you’re not ready to eat sashimi, try out some vegetable rolls, the egg-based tamago, or any one of the fried fusion rolls. The classic California roll is specially designed to simulate the experience of raw fish with steamed pieces of white fish and avocado. After a few of these, you’ll be ready to graduate to the full menu!

Sushi History

From its ancient origins across the ocean to our Bellevue Japanese restaurant, the history of sushi is a fascinating one. Though it is difficult to know such things for certain, the common belief is that sushi started back in east Asia, where fishermen would pack their catches with rice in order to preserve the meat. This rice was combined with rice wine so that the fish would ferment.

Over time, it was discovered that the fermentation process could be hastened with the addition of vinegar. This was the original “sushi rice”. For a while, this rice was actually thrown out before the fish was eaten, and it wasn’t until the nineteenth century when food vendors first realized that they could serve sashimi with the sushi rice as an easy and delicious street meal. As this practice originated in Edo, this new food was dubbed Edo-style sushi.

After this point, sushi remained more or less the same until the 1970’s. This was when Japanese chefs were trying to introduce sushi to the United States. Their innovations launched the phenomenon of fusion sushi, or “American-style” sushi, which quickly caught fire across the globe. Join in on this continuing history of sushi yourself with Flo Japanese Restaurant and Sake Bar!

Is There Mercury in My Sushi?

Mercury is a big concern for many people when it comes to seafood. The ramifications of consuming too much of this toxic metal are quite serious, so the health conscious individual is well-advised to monitor their consumption. As fish represents an important aspect of our Bellevue sushi restaurant, we want you to feel comfortable, so we offer you the following:

The straight truth is that mercury is nearly impossible to avoid. It’s a naturally occurring element, with the planet releasing more of it into the atmosphere than is released from human sources. It has always found its way into sea plant life, which is then consumed by herbivorous fish, which are then eaten by larger fish. Your goal should therefore not be how to avoid mercury entirely, but how to limit your intake.

Fortunately, most fish have a mercury level between 0.01 to 0.5 ppm, which is well below the safe level of 1 ppm as set by the FDA. This safety level is a conservative allowance as is, representing a level well below that found in fish that have historically caused mercury poisoning. At the same time, a lot of fish have important health benefits that can actually serve to remove toxins like mercury from your body. By sticking with an appropriate level of fish consumption, you can derive great benefits from fish that counteract the potential risk associated with it.

Eating Sustainable Sushi

The issue of sustainable fish is becoming more important to the seafood industry.  Our consumption of fish puts an enormous strain on the populations of our rivers and oceans, which are already experiencing enough problems from pollution and the increased acidity that comes with our carbon output.  This is why Flo’s Bellevue Japanese restaurant believes in the importance of sustainable fish.

Fortunately, farmed fish currently accounts for about half of our fish consumption.  Endangered fish populations are therefore being given a chance at recovering, and poorer villages that live off of the ocean’s bounty are better able to support themselves.  If you would like to do your part in supporting sustainable fish, seek out the more commonly farmed or resilient fish species, like the following:

  • Salmon

  • Scallops, Mussels, Clams, and Oysters

  • Dungeness and Stone crab

  • Yellowfin Tuna

  • Atlantic, King, and Spanish Mackerel

  • Tilapia

  • Black Cod

  • Octopus

  • Squid