How to Eat Sushi with Wasabi the Right Way

Enjoying sushi isn’t just about the fish – knowing how to properly use wasabi is key to an authentic sushi experience. But what’s the right way to eat wasabi with your sushi? Many sushi newbies wonder if they should mix wasabi into soy sauce or pile it onto rolls. If you want to level up your sushi skills, follow these pro tips on savoring sushi the traditional way with wasabi:

Don’t mix wasabi into soy saucePlace wasabi directly on fish instead. According to sushi chefs, combining wasabi with soy ruins the flavors. For ideal taste, dip your fish into soy, then add a dollop of wasabi on top.

Use chopsticks to handle sushi and dip fish-first into soy. Don’t overdo the wasabi – a little goes a long way! The spice is already inside rolls. Eat mild fish first, saving strongly flavored ones for last. Use pickled ginger between types to reset your palate.

Now you’re ready to become a sushi + wasabi pro! Let’s dive into the nuances of properly integrating wasabi into your sushi experience for maximum flavor and enjoyment.

Don’t Mix Wasabi into Soy Sauce

First rule: do not mix wasabi paste into the soy sauce dish. I know – this seems to be a common practice among sushi novices. However, ask any sushi chef and they’ll tell you it’s totally incorrect.

Here’s why mixing wasabi into soy ruins the flavors:

  • The spiciness overwhelms the soy’s umami.
  • It’s too strong for dipping the fish and overpowers the delicate flavors.
  • The sauce becomes too thin and runny with wasabi added.
  • It can also become clumpy if not mixed properly.

Takeaway: For the ideal tasting experience, keep wasabi and soy separate when eating sushi.

Place Wasabi Directly on Fish

So where does the wasabi go? The proper way is to place it directly on the fish itself, just before eating each piece.

Here’s the method:

  1. Use your chopsticks to pick up a piece of sushi or sashimi.
  2. Dip just the fish (not the rice) lightly into your small soy sauce dish.
  3. Use your chopsticks or fingers to add a small dab of wasabi onto the top of the fish.
  4. Pop the whole piece into your mouth and enjoy!

This allows you to experience the perfect balance of soy and wasabi flavors in each bite. The wasabi complements and enhances the fish, rather than overwhelming it.

Don’t Use Too Much Wasabi

When eating sushi with wasabi, less is more. You really only need the tiniest bit to get that unmistakable kick and flavor, so use it sparingly.

Wasabi has an extremely potent, concentrated flavor. Just a pea-sized amount delivers plenty of zing. Piling on too much will numb your tastebuds.

Plus, quality sushi restaurants always put a thin layer of wasabi between the rice and fish, so it’s already incorporated into each piece. Extra isn’t needed.

Use Pickled Ginger Between Types

Pickled ginger, called gari, acts as a palate cleanser during sushi meals. It refreshes your mouth between different types of sushi and removes lingering flavors.

Try a small bite of gari between tuna rolls and yellowtail nigiri, for example. The sourness resets your tastebuds so you can fully savor the next piece.

Eat Mild Fish First, Save Strong Flavors for Last

When eating a sushi meal with multiple pieces, start with the mildest, lightest flavored fish. Save the bolder, fattier types for the end.

Here’s the ideal order from first to last:

  • White fish: flounder, snapper, sea bass
  • Salmon
  • Yellowtail
  • Tuna: lean tuna like maguro before fatty tuna like toro
  • Mackerel
  • Sea urchin
  • Salmon roe

You don’t want heavy flavors like toro preceding lighter ones – it overpowers the taste. Build up to the richest, most full-flavored fish for optimal enjoyment.

Use Chopsticks Properly

Using chopsticks to handle sushi is an integral part of proper Japanese dining etiquette. Here are some tips:

  • Use the ends of chopsticks, not the middle part. The ends give you precision.
  • Pick up sushi gently – don’t impale or squeeze pieces.
  • Only dip the fish side into soy, not the rice.
  • Never pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s – this is taboo.

With practice, chopsticks become second nature. They allow graceful handling of sushi for dipping and wasabi application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it rude to ask for extra wasabi at sushi restaurants?

No, it’s perfectly fine to ask for additional wasabi if served portions are small. Extra sauce requests are also acceptable.

What’s the difference between real and fake wasabi?

Real wasabi is grated from a fresh wasabi root. Fake wasabi uses horseradish powder for cheaper imitation. Real wasabi has a more complex, nuanced flavor.

Why do I need a special wasabi brush?

Brushes allow you to scoop just the right amount from the grater. They minimize waste and mess.

Can I add wasabi to rolls like a California roll too?

You can, but go easy. Rolls already contain wasabi between the rice and filling, so too much overpowers.

Are there non-spicy wasabi alternatives?

Yes, you can request wasabi flavored sauce without spice. Some sushi restaurants offer this substitute.

Now Enjoy Sushi Like a Pro!

There you have it – all my tips and tricks for integrating wasabi seamlessly into your sushi experience. Follow this guidance to enjoy wasabi the traditional way. From properly dipping fish to optimal flavor order, you’ll be a sushi and wasabi expert in no time.

Got any other wasabi wisdom to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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