WBEZ | Sushi http://www.wbez.org/tags/sushi Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago seafood shoppers duped by mislabeled fish http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-seafood-shoppers-duped-mislabeled-fish-105671 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80271781&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Seafood fans in Chicago have a high chance of being cheated when they buy fish in restaurants and grocery stores. A <a href="http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/National_Seafood_Fraud_Testing_Results_FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">new study</a> by Oceana, a national conservation group, found 32 percent of samples tested in Chicago were mislabeled as another fish entirely.</p><p>But Chicago fishmonger Dirk Fucik says the false fish sales are probably not entirely the fault of retailers or fishermen.</p><p>&ldquo;The fisherman who catches the actual fish is not really the one playing games, I don&rsquo;t think,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If he catches a red snapper, he goes to shore and sells it as such. But then once it gets to a processor, or to a broker, somewhere in that range I think things get mismarked.&rdquo;</p><p>By the time a restaurant or grocery store gets the packaged and filleted fish, it&rsquo;s undergone a covert change of identity somewhere up the chain. Fucik gave the example of a Vietnamese catfish called basa or swai that&rsquo;s imported in large amounts into the U.S. every year.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve never seen that on a menu, I&rsquo;ll betcha,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So that&rsquo;s getting used for something, somewhere. Mixed in with fish sandwiches or fish sticks, or whatever.&rdquo;</p><p>The study was neither random nor comprehensive. Volunteers sought out retailers that advertised fish species considered likely to be fakes based on previous cases or regional popularity, and the sample pools focused heavily on those types.</p><p>The two-year project analyzed the DNA of the purchased samples and found that a full 33 percent of the specimens were sold under a false name. Snapper was a scam in 87 percent of the samples, and 59 percent of tuna was actually another fish.&nbsp;</p><p>Fucik thinks high-end markets like his are less likely to fall into a counterfeit fish situation, because they tend to know more about their fish and it doesn&rsquo;t usually come tightly packaged.</p><p>&ldquo;I like to buy everything whole, because then you know exactly the species of fish you&rsquo;re buying,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>If anything is suspicious, he sends it back.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7044_043-scr.JPG" style="height: 518px; width: 690px;" title="If something sold as a red snapper actually looks like this tilefish, Dirk Fucik says, be suspicious. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;If you know what you&rsquo;re doing, hopefully you don&rsquo;t get duped,&rdquo; Fucik said.</p><p>Chicago was noted in the study for its &ldquo;unusual seafood substitutions.&rdquo; In one case, a fish sold as Alaskan cod turned out to be the charmingly-named threadfin slickhead, a fish not even known to be sold in the U.S. And while most red snapper scams substitute rockfish and tilapia, two Chicago grocery stores were peddling the far less common goldbanded jobfish and slender pinjalo as red snapper.<br /><br />Sushi venues had the highest incidence of mislabeling at a whopping 74 percent, although the total number of sushi sellers surveyed was far less than restaurants or retailers. But in the 118 sushi outlets tested, 92 percent of the fish sold as snapper and 71 percent of the so-called tuna were mislabeled specimens of other fish.</p><p>Mislabeling can mean feeling ripped off, but it can also be dangerous for those with allergies and mislead shoppers trying to pick out sustainably harvested or low-mercury fish products. Oceana, the study&rsquo;s publisher, says seafood should be traceable, and argues that current laws for seafood inspection should be more stringently enforced.</p><p>For now, the implications for the consumer are cloudy. Fucik says the best way for the fish purchaser to get to know their product is to ask questions - but if you ask whether your sashimi is actually make with snapper, you&rsquo;ll almost definitely get a yes.</p><p>And taste tests are mostly a dead end, too. Even he can have trouble telling one filet from another in many cases of substitution, and he&rsquo;s been in the business for forty years.</p><p>People who want to stay on top of their fish-shopping game can do themselves a favor by favoring fresh fish markets that sell whole fish. And if you&rsquo;re trying to go upscale with your purchases, check out average prices and ask questions if a fish product seems to be cheaper than what it should be.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7043_036-scr.JPG" style="height: 518px; width: 690px;" title="Red snapper is red. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>Finally, Fucik strongly recommended looking out for &ldquo;tuna&rdquo; that&rsquo;s white in color when it&rsquo;s raw; there&rsquo;s no such thing, he said, as actual &ldquo;white tuna&rdquo;.</p><p>The canned stuff has been cooked, but it used to be pink. If it&rsquo;s white and it&rsquo;s raw it could be escolar, also known as oilfish.</p><p>Escolar has a special effect on digestion that Fucik compares to the cleansing effects of <a href="http://ex-lax.com/" target="_blank">Ex-Lax</a>, and it&rsquo;s already banned in Japan and Italy for the gastrointestinal problems it can cause.</p><p>Next up in fish troubles: Frankenfish. (That&rsquo;s the derisive name for <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/genetically-modified-frankenfish-nears-fda-approval-debate-heats/story?id=18078157" target="_blank">genetically modified salmon</a> that&rsquo;s swimming closer to FDA approval as we speak.)</p><p>And in case you haven&rsquo;t had enough seafood malaise for the day, WBEZ&rsquo;s food blogger Louisa Chu will be with us soon to reflect on what her <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-08/waste-not-nose-tail-fin-101973" target="_blank">fishing trip in Alaska</a> taught her about the fish supply chain - and all the ways it can go wrong.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-seafood-shoppers-duped-mislabeled-fish-105671 A sushi master's temporary restaurant in Kesennuma, Japan http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2012-01-31/sushi-masters-temporary-restaurant-kesennuma-japan-95994 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-31/shrimp_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" grape="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-31/shrimp_0.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 448px; " title=""></p><p>To get to Kesennuma these days, Japan's biggest port town about two hours by bullet train northwest of Tokyo, I had to take a taxi yesterday an hour to the coast.</p><p>It's cold and snowing here, with only a few inches on the ground, but a total whiteout. There used to be a local train that connected, the driver said, but sections of track are missing, washed away by the tsunami triggered by 3/11, as the earthquake is known among the Japanese. The missing tracks show up as dotted lines on the GPS that guides driver-san on the two-lane twisty mountain road, but he knows it well, having ferried volunteers in for the past year or so.</p><p>He asks if he can ask me where I'm from, and when I tell him Chicago, he says, "Chicago Cubs!" He's been a lifelong fan of the "Major Leagues" and closely follows all the Japanese players. I ask him what they eat here at games and he says he's not sure, maybe "American-style" popcorn.</p><p>When we arrive, I finally see crumpled storefronts missing all their windows, filled with debris. I ask driver-san to wait while I dig into my duffel, then give him one the small cans of Garrett's popcorn I've brought as customary gifts. I explain it's filled with Chicago Mix, cheese and caramel. He made the characteristic Japanese sound that registers surprise, like Scooby-Doo, then smiled broadly and bowed deeply before heading the hour back.</p><p>I had a few minutes before heading out to dinner, at my first sushi restaurant in Japan. But it wasn't at the original famous Asahi, but their brand new temporary restaurant opened Christmas Eve 2011.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-31/restaurant exterior_0.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 448px; " title="the exterior of the 'pop-up' restaurant"></p><p>Fifty-one local shopkeepers are finally back in business, in rows of pre-fab buildings. They're rent free for two years, which is how long officials say it will take to rebuild the town. The shopkeepers think five years.</p><p>The sushi master starts with mild, silky local flounder and over two hours we chat about the food. One course is the fabled "grape shrimp" which is so rare it's called "the phantom ship", and never makes it down to Tsukiji. I was just there yesterday morning but that seems like a long time ago already. It's the finest sushi we serve in this shop, he said. It's incredibly sweet, crisp, and creamy. In two small bites, as he's sliced it in half, it captures the depth of the sea.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-31/anago_0.JPG" style="width: 300px; height: 224px; " title="anago"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-31/anago sauce_0.JPG" style="width: 300px; height: 224px; " title="anago sauce"></p><p>With the anago he describes how the thick brown salty-sweet sauce is made by adding ingredients over the remaining sauce in the pot every time. His original base was 45 years old, but the pot washed out to sea. Luckily he has another restaurant in the train station town, so he borrowed some base from there.&nbsp;</p><p>Kesennuma was hit not only by the earthquake and tsunami, but a huge fire too. Wrecked fishing vessels spilled fuel in the harbor, burning for four days. The water is still now, but at only a sidewalk width away and nearly level with the road, it's feels ominously close.</p><p>The chef was at the dentist when the quake hit. He'd just finished and was waiting to pay. They said he could leave; there was no need to pay. His house is on high land and all of his family and staff were safe. He chose his house for its view, as he's a painter too. Two salvaged paintings hang in the temporary space. He says his hobby saved their lives.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-31/knife_0.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 448px; " title="the found knife"></p><p>Kesennuma counts about 1,000 dead and 400 missing from 74,000 residents. During clean up the chef said he saw something shiny under the dirt. It was his knife, buried where he normally stood. He says it was an order from heaven to continue working. He said with the dentist, his high house, and the knife, "I think I'm a very lucky guy."</p></p> Tue, 31 Jan 2012 15:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2012-01-31/sushi-masters-temporary-restaurant-kesennuma-japan-95994 Young and Hungry: A sushi steal at Nori http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/young-and-hungry-sushi-steal-nori <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Nori-pic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img height="300" width="400" alt="" title="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-29/NORI PIC.jpg" /></p><div style="text-align: left;"><em>I'</em><em>m turning over the blog today, to my intern, Dimitra&nbsp;Apostolopoulos, a grad student at Columbia College. As we've done in the past, from time to time, the &quot;Young &amp; Hungry&quot; feature is meant as a guide to finding delicious, extremely affordable food in the city (typically near campus, but not always).&nbsp;</em></div><div style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</div><div>As a hungry grad student on a tight budget, I'm always on the lookout for cheap but delicious eats. Most of the time that means burgers, beefs and hot dogs - and while there isn't anything wrong with them - every now and then a girl just needs a meal that actually requires utensils. In this case, I found it at <a href="http://www.norichicago.com/press.html">Nori</a>. Chopsticks, anyone?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While I usually don't associate sushi with budget-friendly, this small but cozy Lincoln Park BYOB did not disappoint.&nbsp;Located directly next to the Diversey stop on the Brown Line and two doors down from a liquor store in case you forget your sake, Nori is perhaps best known&nbsp;among the young and hungry crowd&nbsp;for its daily half-off maki special offered before 6 p.m. (all-day Monday). I expected a limited variety of rolls included in that sounds-too-good-to-be-true deal; so imagine my delight when I saw more than 20 kinds of maki to choose from on the <a href="http://www.norichicago.com/ourmenu.html">menu</a>. Among the usual California and Philly rolls, were also inventive maki featuring unagi (eel), scallop and escolar (super white tuna).&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With an extensive variety of hot and cold appetizers to choose from, my friend, and fellow sushi-loving classmate Laura and I chose to keep it simple and start off with the basics: edamame ($3.50) and miso soup ($2). A healthy portion of green edamame beans were served warm and seasoned with just enough sea-salt was followed by a steaming small bowl of miso - not too salty with generous amounts of tofu and seaweed - so far so good. On to the stars of the show.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Although there are plenty of hot items, including teriyaki and tempura options as well as a half-dozen bento boxes, keeping our goal in sight and budget in mind, we ordered four rolls off of the half-price special menu:&nbsp;<i>sake maki&nbsp;</i>(fresh salmon and avocado, $3),&nbsp;<i>escolar jalapeno maki</i>&nbsp;(super white tuna with jalapeno, $3),&nbsp;<i>spicy octopus</i>&nbsp;(octopus, scallion, masago mayo, chili sauce, $3.50), and the&nbsp;<i>crunchy spicy tuna</i>&nbsp;(chopped tuna, masago mayo, chili sauce, avocado and green onions with tempura crumbs, $4.50). At six to eight pieces per order, we knew it would be more than enough sushi to sate our appetites, but since we were saving so much, we decided to splurge a little and order one of Nori's full-price signature maki - the&nbsp;<i>fire dragon&nbsp;</i>(tempura shrimp, avocado wrapped with tuna topped with spicy shrimp scallion and sweet sauce, $14).&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ok, we like it spicy, but even for the heat-adverse, these rolls provided just enough kick without swearing off wasabi forever. The fresh slice of jalapeno in the escolar roll provides just enough bite to balance the mellow flavor of the super white tuna. The tempura shrimp has a nice, light, crisp exterior, while the salmon had a clean, fresh taste. The octopus was served thinly-sliced and not at all chewy (which happens all too often); it's perfectly accented with the mild scallion flavor, and was our hands-down favorite. At a total cost of $12.75 per person (not including the signature maki which we really didn't need), we were pretty full, and thankfully, so were our wallets.</div></p> Mon, 31 Jan 2011 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/young-and-hungry-sushi-steal-nori Nothing to Pu-Pu, but I think I'm a fan of platters again http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/nothing-pu-pu-i-think-im-fan-platters-again <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sushisamba.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="299" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-21/sushisamba.jpg" title="sushi platter from Sushisamba" alt="" /></p><p style="text-align: left;">I&rsquo;m usually not a fan of platters.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>More precisely, I tend to shy away from any sort of mass-service, group-intended eating from the trough.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>I avoid buffets like a Bears fan shuns Lambeau and don&rsquo;t want anything to do with those &ldquo;sampler platters&rdquo; they try to foist upon you at mediocre Chinese joints.</p><!--StartFragment--> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p>But there I was, twice in the past week, sitting down with friends and gobbling up two very different items from uniquely prepared platters.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p>The first, from <a href="http://www.sushisamba.com/index.cfm/id/10/id2/28.html">Sushisamba</a> in River North, where I&rsquo;ve always been more drawn to the cooked items, such as the seafood-jammed <i style="">moqueca</i> stew or the savory <i style="">robata</i> skewers of beef and chicken.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>But for some reason, a sushi assortment was ordered, and without hesitation, we polished off the delicate pieces of Hamachi, as well as the savory maki rolls embedded with an appropriate amount of fish (great ratio of seafood to well-prepared sushi rice), and not coated in an unagi-lathered sauce like so many other places do, hoping to cover up any flaws.<o:p></o:p></p> <p style="text-align: center;" class="MsoNormal"><img height="299" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-21/noon-o-kabab.jpg" title="Kebab platter from Noon-o-Kabab" alt="" /></p><p class="MsoNormal">Then on Friday night, at <a href="http://noonokabab.com/">Noon O Kabab</a>, perhaps the best Persian/Iranian restaurant in Chicago, we sat down to a platter of kebabs, each one more juicy and flavorful than the next.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>In the picture above, you&rsquo;ll notice shrimp skewers on the far left; check out the large chunks of salmon right next to them.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>They were an absolutely spot-on medium rare, and as we sampled each kebab &ndash; from filet to ground beef and chicken that must have been marinated for a few days to keep it so moist &ndash; I was even more impressed with the &ldquo;jeweled&rdquo; rice dish that arrived alongside: studded with shards of orange peel, carrots and crunchy pistachios, I was reminded instantly of why I love this place so much, and how I need to make a habit of returning again soon.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">On a completely different train of thought, I wanted to share this picture from my lunch Friday at <a href="http://provincerestaurant.com/">Province</a>, a place I haven&rsquo;t eaten in much lately.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>It&rsquo;s cobia &ndash; a type of black kingfish &ndash; sustainably caught, of course, like all of the seafood at the restaurant.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Topped with some briny capers and resting over a crunchy assortment of squash, edamame and hearty winter greens, it was a richly-satisfying dish with very little guilt (allowing for just a few extra nibbles of dessert).</p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p> <p style="text-align: center;" class="MsoNormal"><o:p><img height="299" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-21/cobia at Province.jpg" title="Cobia from Province" alt="" />&nbsp;</o:p></p> <!--EndFragment--> <p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 22 Nov 2010 12:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/nothing-pu-pu-i-think-im-fan-platters-again Top 5 Sushi Spots in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/top-5-sushi-spots-chicago <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sushi_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="551" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/sushi.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p>Chicago isn't exactly New York City or San Francisco when it comes to amazing sushi joints. &nbsp;I was just walking through San Francisco's Japantown earlier this week, and couldn't get over the number of Japanese restaurants patronized by ex-pats. &nbsp;But we do have a few gems. &nbsp;I think the thing they all have in common is that there is a gentleman behind the bar who has put in his time as an apprentice somewhere, washing and cooking rice; understanding the proper balance between rice vinegar and sugar and treating those little white grains with the respect and care they often fail to receive at lesser, cookie-cutter sushi joints. &nbsp;He knows how to purchase, select and cut his fish, and since his clientele is a shade more serious than the usual gaggle of amateurs, he spends more time slicing <em>sashimi</em> or making elegant, yet simple and pristine <em>nigiri</em> - draping his slender pieces of fish over the vinegared rice and attaching it with the slightest dab of wasabi (occasionally straight from the wasabi plant itself, grated to order) -&nbsp;instead of cranking out spicy tuna rolls and deep-fried godzilla/bagel/Philly/dragon/kitchen sink maki all night. &nbsp;I would feel confident going into any of these places, propping myself up at the sushi bar, and simply asking for an <em>omakase</em>, or chef's tasting menu, entrusting my meal to his whims.&nbsp;</p><p>1. <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/katsu-chicago">Katsu</a></p><p>2. <a href="http://www.miraisushi.com/">Mirai</a></p><p>3. <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/arami-chicago">Arami</a></p><p>4. <a href="http://www.saicafe.com/">Sai Cafe</a></p><p>5. <a href="http://www.japonaischicago.com/">Japonais</a></p><p>Honorable mention: <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/tanoshii-chicago">Tanoshii</a></p></p> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/top-5-sushi-spots-chicago Monday Foodie Forecast: The Secrets of Sushi and Sake http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/monday-foodie-forecast-secrets-sushi-and-sake <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img width="500" height="375" alt="" title="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-16/sushi.jpg" /><br /><em>sushi from SushiSamba Rio (photo by tschorda)</em></p><p style="text-align: left; ">On Tuesday, Feb. 9, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.sushisamba.com/index.cfm/id/10/id2/28.html">SushiSamba Rio</a> will host SUSHI + SAKE101, a two hour interactive teaching and tasting event where you can learn what it takes to become a &quot;master sushi chef.&quot; Well, maybe not a master - that would require years of washing rice, sharpening knives and studying fish. But they'll at least show you some basic differences between types of sushi, and will outfit you with the building blocks of assembling your own maki and nigiri at home.</p><p style="text-align: left; "><!--break--> Sake and snacks - including sushi, tempura, edamame and sushi rolls will also be served.</p><p style="text-align: left; ">Class starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $75 per person.</p></p> Mon, 08 Feb 2010 12:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/monday-foodie-forecast-secrets-sushi-and-sake