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Should you add wasabi to your soy sauce at a sushi restaurant?

40 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Have you ever mixed a bit of wasabi into your soy sauce and dipped your sushi into it? If you have, you’ve committed a culinary taboo that’s frowned upon in the dining world, according to news shared widely in Japan recently.

Sushi Sasaya Korin, a sushi restaurant in Kyoto’s Pontocho district, is one such establishment that believes wasabi should not be mixed with soy sauce, and Itamae Sushi Edo in Tokyo’s upmarket Minato Ward also holds the same opinion.

The reason why the practice is discouraged is because dissolving wasabi in soy sauce is said to not only sully the soy sauce, but also diminish the spiciness and aroma of the wasabi.

Japanese-sushi-resta.jpg

Mixing wasabi with soy sauce is known as wasabi joyu, an amalgamation of the words wasabi and shoyu the Japanese word for soy sauce. According to Sushi Sasaya Korin, wasabi joyu is a violation of etiquette not only when it comes to sushi but all Japanese food in general as the two should always be enjoyed separately.

Itamae Sushi Edo believes wasabi should be applied directly to the fish itself, especially in the case of fatty fish like chutoro (medium fatty tuna) and otoro (pink fatty tuna), as the wasabi helps to neutralize the fat, which makes it taste even more delicious.

A recent survey of 15,558 diners found that 6,347 people (40.8 percent) said they always add wasabi to the fish on their sushi and never make wasabi joyu. However, 4,317 people (27.75 percent) said they mix wasabi in with their soy sauce and 4,894 people (31.46 percent) said they do it depending on the situation, making the practice common with over half of the respondents.

▼ Some diners don’t feel so bad mixing wasabi with soy sauce when eating takeaway sushi in the privacy of their own homes.

Japanese-sushi-resta.jpg

News of wasabi joyu being a breach of etiquette caused a stir online in Japan, with people leaving comments like:

“Really? I didn’t know about this rule!”

“I think mixing is becoming more common. Etiquette should change with the times to reflect current trends.”

“Good sushi restaurants put wasabi inside the sushi if it’s necessary so you shouldn’t have to add any more yourself.”

“Most people go to cheap sushi conveyor belt chain restaurants these days so they just eat whatever way they like.”

“This is just an extension of the belief that it’s considered taboo to mix things while eating.”

It’s true that mixing one’s dishes, by eating rice and side dishes together, is frowned upon in polite circles. However, there is one place where wasabi joyu isn’t just accepted but encouraged — when eating kaisendon (seafood bowls). Seafood bowl specialists like Don in Osaka and Kotetsu in Ishikawa’s Omicho Market advise that wasabi should be placed on a small plate, mixed with soy sauce and then poured over the bowl before eating.

So next time you’re eating sushi under the eye of a watchful chef in Japan, be sure to keep your wasabi and your soy sauce separate. If you’re dining out at a casual conveyor belt sushi restaurant on your own, however, it’s likely that nobody will bat an eyelid if you choose to sully your condiments. Because when they have sushi tacos on the menu, it’s safe to say all traditional rules have been thrown out the window.

Source: J-Cast via Jin 

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© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

40 Comments
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Japan has too many "taboos", just mind your own business and let me enjoy my sushi with ample wasabi. Soy and wasabi ... such an "injustice"!! ba hum bug !

12 ( +18 / -6 )

If you want an inferior flavour for the convenience then go for it and anyway:

“Good sushi restaurants put wasabi inside the sushi if it’s necessary so you shouldn’t have to add any more yourself.”

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Japan has too many "taboos", just mind your own business and let me enjoy my sushi with ample wasabi. Soy and wasabi ... such an "injustice"!! ba hum bug !

Exactly. Just do what you like! If you like pouring soya sauce on your rice, then do it. I don't see locals complaining about mayonnaise and corn on pizzas, or using rice as burger buns.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

It is a matter of taste.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Just more of the typical snobbery and pretentiousness.

Even there is some possible sense when its super-high end sushi, 100% pure wasabi, and 100% pure soy sauce all traditionally produced by hand, it is extremely unlikely most people will ever encounter those when eating sushi. They will get stuff full of chemicals made in a factory. Most 100 yen sushi places think its okay to eat sushi with ramen and french fries.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Yesterday, visited a local fish restaurant, which is mentioned in Michelin, they served sashimi with wasabi paste. With sushi and sashimi, I don't put the wasabi in the soy sauce, I put a dot amount on the sushi or sashimi then dip a corner into the soy sauce. Not to soak with the soy sauce. Two very different tastes.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

At home, we use organic wasabi from Aska, which is free of additives and chemicals and always Tamari instead of soy sauce.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Do what ever you want.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

When I first washed up on these isles in the early 90s people were much more sensitive to wasabi & shoyu & how they were supposed to be used, I would say most kept these separate when consuming.

Then as time went by & Japans economy sank we ended up with slews of super cheap crappy tasting kaiten sushi & that & cheap izakaya are where the mixing kicked into high gear & now almost nobody bats a eye when people mix the two.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I love Zichi's posts. They always paint a certain utopia.

Ps. News to me about mixing wasabi and soy sauce being wrong. I once saw someone mix the ginger pickle, with soy sauce and wasabi!!! I also saw some one return a dish they took back to the kaitten sushi belt, too. The world did not stop turning then., too.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I don't say anything when Japanese drown perfectly good food in mayonaise in ways that would absolutely shock the French creators of said dishes.

I don't say anything when Japanese dump overpowering seaweed onto "Italian" pasta, nor when they mix strong fish base into pork or chicken recipes.

Do what you want with your food, and ignore the Taste Fascists. I don't care if I "should" or "shouldn't" put wasabi in my soy sauce. I do. I think it's better that way. And I don't care what anyone else thinks about it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Every culture modifies imported foods to their own liking. I heard that the most popular pizza topping in Japan is octopus, which is absolutely frowned upon here in the States. Still, I have nothing against modifying the dish to suit local tastes.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Um, but pizza is Italian.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I don't care what people say. I love wasabi so I'm going to add it into my soy sauce.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

The world has too many problems to even consider this little trifle.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Much of the wasabi used in cheap restaurants isn't real wasabi or not 100% wasabi.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Kaitenzushiya are to Washoku what M©Dºnªld$ is to eating.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some times the traditional way is the best way. Thats why it became traditional in the first place.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

With Mayonnaise, even better taste.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

In the UK they dip the sushi in ketchup. Mustard with roast beef sushi. All good goes well with the chips. Culture yes?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Try telling my wife not to mix wasabi and shoyu. You are likely to get a mouthful of abuse.

With Mayonnaise, even better taste.

She would probably go along with that too for certain dishes.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

you can't stop me

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

who cares? put whatever you want on it and to hell with what people think.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I can't say that I have ever been given wasabi in a sushi restaurant.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When you go to high end sushi, it is respectful to follow the tradition and separate the two. Anything below that, you can do what you want. TBH, even at high end if you do it, they probably won't say anything. But showing you know your thing might get you some bonus!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

1glennToday  11:59 am JST

Every culture modifies imported foods to their own liking. I heard that the most popular pizza topping in Japan is octopus, which is absolutely frowned upon here in the States. 

But it is not uncommon in Italy. Americans are the most food-ignorant people on this planet.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Squid not octopus on pizza and in Italy the squid ink bag is used to make black pasta. Very tasty.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Every culture modifies imported foods to their own liking.

Yes, it is common to modify a recipe to adapt to the local taste.

I heard that the most popular pizza topping in Japan is octopus, which is absolutely frowned upon here in the States. Still, I have nothing against modifying the dish to suit local tastes.

Pizza is Italian food.

Nothing personal against the USA, but the genuine (Italian) pizza is something so different from what the Americans are used to eat.

American-style pizza is absolutely frowned upon by Italians.

For Italians, both the Japanese-style pizza (teriyaki pizza, pizza with nori seaweed…) and the USA-style pizza (including the pineapple pizza) are just not pizza.

Similarly, carbonara made with cream, napolitan pasta (pasta sauce made with ketcup and butter).....are absolutely frowned upon by Italians.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Wasabi and soy sauce are great mixed, they compliment each other as well as peanut butter and jelly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The correct way is to cook your sushi with your lighter, then drizzle tomato sauce on it after removing the seaweed wrapping.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you like it, you should. If you don't, you shouldn't. If someone tells you you shouldn't, but you want to, and you are a customer, you should tell them if they don't think you should use it, they should not offer it. You'd think a nation that can't order pizza without a bottle of tabasco sauce and with it already covered in mayonnaise and corn wouldn't care so much.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Tabasco sauce on sushi is a real treat, much better than soy or wasabi. Try it, you will be surprised!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

On the subject of mayonnaise, they love the stuff in Mexico, south of the border here in California. We go down there often in the winter, and we love the food. It may be surprising to most people, but it isn't just Japanese who love mayo; it is very popular in parts of Mexico. Not so much in the tourist areas, but many locals love it. I will say that their version of mayo tastes different, and better, than what I am used to here in the States. Has a bit of lime in it, and is so good I can eat it by itself.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All this talk of food makes me hungry. One of the good things about living in a place like California is that we can get food from all over the world. One of our daughters moved down South, and she really, really bemoans the lack of culinary choice. Don't get me started on the blatant racism.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Have you ever mixed a bit of wasabi into your soy sauce and dipped your sushi into it? If you have, you’ve committed a culinary taboo that’s frowned upon in the dining world,

how about wine and chuhais with sushi, which I often see people do???

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm in Canada where we invented Hawaiian pizza, called that because of the pineapple, and California rolls, because at the time the avocados came from California. We named it after the ingredient origin not the location because because.

So from my perspective food traditions are weird, do what you want

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Try all the different ways and just do whatever you like the taste of, screw what anyone else thinks.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't say anything when Japanese drown perfectly good food in mayonaise in ways that would absolutely shock the French creators of said dishes.

I don't say anything when Japanese dump overpowering seaweed onto "Italian" pasta, nor when they mix strong fish base into pork or chicken recipes.

This is it! Japan always wants to have its cake and eat it too! Respect our cultures and traditions regardless if they are relevant today. However, we can do whatever we see fit regarding other cultures and traditions.

If you like it, you should. If you don't, you shouldn't. If someone tells you you shouldn't, but you want to, and you are a customer, you should tell them if they don't think you should use it, they should not offer it. You'd think a nation that can't order pizza without a bottle of tabasco sauce and with it already covered in mayonnaise and corn wouldn't care so much.

Can we all agree that mayonnaise and corn on pizza is totally gross?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Far too many false equivalencies using mayo on pizza or other imported foods into Japan. This subject is about traditional Japanese foods not being eaten "traditionally"; not how a country adapts foreign foods to their own tastes.

As a country of tradition, it is what defines Japan and for better or for worse it is the reason we chose to live by, or are simply attracted to the culture. Reversely, a "Do whatever you want" attitude without consideration of tradition suggests that you are still and will forever be no more than a guest in the country.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Every country has it's traditions but traditions are optional and they're not always the best thing to do anyway. If everyone was to just blindly follow tradition, nothing moves forward.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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