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Sushi: The Raw Deal

When I first tried sushi in college, I wasn’t a fan. The rolls were filled with gummy, tasteless rice, and the sashimi was, well, fishy. As someone who was pretty adventurous in the food departmentat a young age, I felt like I was a loser. Even in 2002, sushi was hip, and me not wanting to partake took my coolness down a notch, at least in my eyes.

In my wise post-college years , I’ve learned two things: bad sushi sucks and it may take a time or two to “get” sushi. But once you do, oh my, can it be enjoyable. (And if you never do, it’s still cool because you’re much less likely to come down with a variety of nasty bugs and parasites by forgoing raw fish.) It may be expensive, but it’s worth it to go to the nicest or at least the cleanest place in town. And if the thought of digesting rare octopus freaks you out (or you’re preggers), stick to the rolls, which are far less scary your first go-round. My “first time” involved A LOT of rare yellowtail and eel, if that tells you anything.

Once you develop a love for it (and if you like seafood, I think you can), sushi can be a fabulously healthy meal if you stick to the right fare. As a general rule, the authentic stuff is the best. If it sounds like a frat boy named it (think: Santa Maria’s Suicide Roll, The Blur Roll or Acid Drops–all real names from real restaurants, mind you), you should probably stay away from it as they usually include more American ingredients such as mayo, cream cheese or something fried.

Sushi Game Plan
Appetizer. Go hog wild by ordering not one, but two appetizers. Edamame is my first choice because it’s really good for you, and it’s fun to eat. (127 cals, 6 grams of good fat and 4 grams of fiber in a 1/2 c. of shelled edamame). Miso soup is a close second with a yummy flavor and only about 50 cals per 1 cup.
Rolls. My faves involve spicy tuna rolls, cucumber rolls and any type with salmon (omega-3s, woo-hoo!). Most of these contain about 200-300 calories per roll, and cucumber rolls clock in at only 130 calories per roll. In addition, many sushi joints have brown rice available, upping the nutritional quality of your meal, and most restaurants are happy to decrease the amount of rice used, you just have to ask. If you’re tempted to get the higher-cal stuff, go ahead,but pick one or two rolls to splurge on and split it with a couple of pals. (I’m a total sucker for spider rolls, so if you’re going to indulge, I suggest those!)

Sashimi. Since sashimi is just rare fish over rice, ask what the freshest fish is and go with that. Fattier fish like salmon will have more calories and fat, but it’s all good stuff, so don’t worry about it; just keep your portion sizes in check. Yellowfin tuna sashimi is only listed at about 100 calories for three pieces.

Sake/Dessert. When dining out, I usually pick either sake or dessert. Some days, a good house sake does the trick and others days mochi ice cream is all I can think about. Just an ounce of sake has about 40 cals and mochi ice cream (golf-ball sized mixtures of rice starch and ice milk) has about 100 calories per ball. So, pick your splurge and savor it.

Do you like sushi? What’s your favorite fare? And, when it comes to sake vs. dessert what do you say: Sake it to me or mo mochi, please?

Sushi not your thing? Check out Erin’s review of Applebee’s Weight Watchers’ menu.

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  1. tfh says:

    I experimented with sushi for the first time in college too. πŸ˜‰ These days Japanese restaurants are my favorite healthy and yummy options– as long as I skip the tempura and green tea ice cream. I haven’t tried mochi and I may have also done too much experimenting with sake bombs in college to be able to drink it without grimacing, but 100 calories per mochi ball sounds like a fairly reasonable indulgence!

  2. Marcy says:

    Yikes! Just looking at the stuff makes me cringe. I don’t think I could ever get past just trying it LMAO!

  3. Me says:

    I am a sushi fanatic — love the stuff! I usually stick to rolls but will indulge in sashimi or gyoza on occasion.

    Best sushi place in St. Louis is Wasabi, hands down. My other faves are Sushi Samba in NYC & Chicago and Katsuya in LA. Yum!

  4. whatiateyesterday says:

    I love sushi and would eat it every day if I could afford it!

    I have never had sake or mochi ice cream πŸ™

  5. Lori says:

    I started eating sushi just last year. When we moved to Brazil I was so surprised to find out that the largest Japanese population outside of Japan lives here. That means some awesome sushi at great prices so I am taking advantage of it while I can.

    I definitely love it now. I’m not into sashimi (too many nutrition classes about raw food safety), but I love the rolls. We’ve got some interesting combos here like mango with the cucumber rolls and for dessert strawberry, cream cheese and guava fruit (called romeo and julieta in brazil). I am a huge sake fan too.

  6. Kelly O says:

    I love sushi. I could literally eat it every day. And good Lord why didn’t I ever think of asking them for brown rice? you are GENIUS! I am going to quote your post on my blog today!! You’re awesome!!


  7. Girl on Top says:

    I love sushi!!! And sashimi is yummy too. It’s just a fun meal when it’s with sushi. I love the eel roll especially when it’s warmed with some sauce over it. And the spicy salmon and the crunch roll. I really like them all πŸ™‚

  8. Christine says:

    oh my goodness I LOVE sushi.

    I went a year without it when I first moved to Ireland because there was nowhere in Sligo to get it – but just before I left a sushi place opened up!

    It is quite healthy as far as eating out goes, but besides that it’s just delicious!

  9. Sagan says:

    LOVE sushi. Adore it. Want it.

    One sushi place I go to is wonderful; not only is it cheap but they give you free edamame while you’re waiting for the meal! I like eating my sushi with green tea (but sake IS yummy).

    There isn’t much food that’s better than sushi. Interesting thing, though- everyone I’ve spoken to about it says that it took them exactly 3 times before they liked it; the first two times they didn’t enjoy it. Same goes for me. Weird, isn’t it?!

  10. Karen says:

    At “my” restaurant, sashimi is the raw fish on its own, not on rice. Sushi is the fish over the rice.

    I prefer sashimi and as Whatidid said, if it wasn’t so expensive, I would eat it every day.

  11. Karen says:

    BTW, I found you through your comment on Dadgonemad.

  12. Fitnessista says:

    what a great post! i love sushi, ever since i was 6 yrs old and thought the wasabi was avocado and popped the whole ball of it in my mouth… and learned a lesson.
    i’ve never had mochi ice cream!! it sounds like something i would be more willing to splurge for instead of sake. i have had the green tea ice cream, which i really enjoyed.
    my favorite is tuna sashimi or spicy tuna roll with brown rice. i’ll always steal a couple of the hubby’s spider roll bites though πŸ˜€

  13. Erica says:

    I just can’t do it! I’m not a sushi gal!

  14. Tish says:

    mochi scares the pee pee out of me!…it’s got this weird skin. ice cream should not be chewy lol…

    i could eat sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner so thanks fbg’s for the nutritional info…now i can pat myself on the back twice for a job well done!

  15. Angella says:

    I *just* told Matthew that I was craving sushi. Now I want it…NOW.

  16. MizFit says:

    I could so eat sushi or sashimi all day every day πŸ™‚

    forget the cars and houses—-I wanna go out for sushi and not keep a running total (money πŸ™‚ not calories) in my head.


  17. fatfighter says:

    I like sushi, but only the cooked rolls, like California, etc. Cannot do the raw thing. Ever.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Love the post. Mmmmm miso soup and a chirashi bowl is sooo good. Just wanted to let you know that sashimi is just the raw fish on its own. Usually the cuts are thicker, so sashimi is a little more expensive than nigiri, which is a thinner cut of raw fish on top of sushi rice. The term “sushi” actually refers to the vinegared rice. So nigiri and maki rolls are considered to be sushi, whereas just the raw fish is sashimi.

  19. Jenn says:

    Ahh — my sushi knowledge just tripled! Thanks for the clarfication!

  20. GiselleR says:

    Totally feeling less guilty about my sushi splurges now πŸ˜€
    I also didn’t know about the possibility of getting brown rice…definitely something I have to look into!!

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