Perhaps it’s just my ignorance of the subject but researching sushi was more complicated than I imagined, although if I knew everything already I imagine there would be no need for research in the first place. To begin my exploration of the topic, I found out the different types of sushi that existed. What made this a little tricky is the fact that some sources translate the names of the dishes slightly differently, what I believe I’ve worked out, however, is that there are two main styles of sushi (with subcategories falling under those).
The first is ‘maki’ or ‘makizushi’, which is the rolled sushi and arguably the most recognisable. The second is ‘nigiri’ or ‘nigirizushi’ which is a hand-pressed bed of rice , typically topped with a piece of fish known as a ‘neta’. The rice itself is the most important aspect of the dish and is specially prepared in a manner known as ‘sushi-meshi’ which gives it the properties needed.
Nigiri tends to be the most consistent, there are lots of different names for the dish but the only difference between each one is the neta. Sake (salmon) and maguro (tuna) for example are among the more popular nigiri.
Maki has a lot more variation and therefore has a few subcategories, the most outstanding of which is probably the ‘temaki’ which is a hand-rolled maki that comes in a cone shape rather than the iconic cylinder. All maki is rolled in a dried sheet of seaweed known as ‘nori’ which is made from a specially cultivated algae, all types of maki use half a sheet of nori except for the ‘futomaki’ which uses a whole sheet and is hence much larger, although that is the only difference between it and regular maki. The ‘uramaki’, also known as an “inside out roll” is very similar to a regular maki except the rice is on the outside, created to appeal to westerners who were put off by the seaweed exterior. The final form of maki is the ‘gunkan’, it starts life similar to a nigiri in that the rice is hand-formed but that is then wrapped in nori and a loose topping is added; typically fish roe.
As well as the names of sushi I was able to find out some of its associated products. Sushi chefs use a bamboo rolling mat to shape the maki, they also use wasabi paste (made from the root of the wasabi plant) as both a flavouring as well as an adhesive. Sushi is also served with soy sauce as a condiment and pickled ginger as a palate cleanser.
The programme ‘How it’s Made’ has long been a guilty pleasure of mine and I was delighted to find an episode that highlighted sushi, it may not be the best quality but it was certainly interesting and has given me my first insight into how sushi is produced – something that I’m sure I will explore further.
This bought of research has been invaluable, not only has it given me some more visuals to experiment with but I have discovered additional aspects that I could potentially include in my E sting, specifically the presentation side of sushi. I will have to make a decision down the line what aspect I would like to focus on for my animation – the preparation of the sushi or the presentation (and potential consumption) of the sushi. At this point in time, I’m leaning towards the preparation being the focus. To tie in with my desire of having a reveal, I feel that a chef creating a maki roll and then presenting the finished dish with the E4 logo configured within it is the way to go.