Captured at newsgroup alt.food.sushi
From: email@example.com (Matt Hucke)
Subject: gaijin question
A question from someone who just recently began eating sushi...what is the proper way to eat wasabi and pickled ginger? I've heard of, and been using, two methods: use ginger to scoop up wasabi and place on top of fish. Or, mix wasabi and soy sauce, dip sushi in this, then eat ginger by itself between pieces of sushi. What's the best method when eating in public? Do the customs differ in America and Japan?
Subject: Re: gaijin question
umd.edu (Matt Terl)
Well, as the denizens of this group know, I've been writing a paper on some of this stuff, and came across an answer in my research. I trust someone'll correct me if I botch it.=)
Anyhow, supposedly you should trust your itamae to put the right amount of wasabi on the sushi and you should not add more. The ginger should be eaten in between pieces of sushi to cleanse the palette; it will also help clear your mouth of any wasabi that is burning your tongue. For sashimi, it is permissible/expected/whatever to mix some wasabi and/or ginger into the soy sauce, but in more traditional restaurants, doing this with sushi will be met with disdain. Furthermore (as an fyi), you should be sure to dip the fish part into the soy sauce, not the rice. There are a bazillion reasons for this, but it tastes better, trust me. Anyhow, except for that last thing, I get the sense that these are only in really nice sushi bars or traditional ones or something. Most of the ones I frequent wouldn't care if I smeared the wasabi all over my face and danced a hula on the counter as long as I paid the bill. Oh well...
BTW, all, thanks again for your help, I scored an "A"!!!!!