Dear Sushi Haters,

Before you curl your nose and shake your head, hear me out. Sushi is not what you think it is. Let me explain. Who knows, you might even be open to trying it after you finish reading this.

I'll start by saying I was you at one point in my life. The words "sushi" and "raw fish" were interchangeable, equals, if you will. I assume you think that because the only pictures of it you've ever seen look like the one above. I'll also assume, like me, you were raised to believe that eating anything that once swam, roamed, or flew had to be cooked first unless you wanted to get violently ill and die. You probably even heard a horror story from someone who knew someone who ate something raw leaving them to spend four straight days in the bathroom with "it" coming out "both ends" like an out-of-control firehose, praying for the sweet relief of death.

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However you came to the conclusion, you're not wrong. Not entirely anyway. Sushi can include raw fish, but it doesn't have to.

I won't bore you with the history of sushi. Its existence is literally THOUSANDS of years old. If you want to dive into it, feel free to pick one of the "About 12,200,000 results" that pop up when you Google "origin of sushi." What I will do (and hopefully not bore you with), is explain that sushi is only part of the entire dish.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sushi as, "cold rice dressed with vinegar, formed into any of various shapes, and garnished especially with bits of raw seafood or vegetables." (Before I go further, you should know the vinegar used is rice vinegar which is sweeter and not nearly as powerful and pungent as standard white vinegar.) This means what makes sushi, sushi, is the process in which the rice is prepared. What's inside of it, on top of it, or both can be whatever you like.

Sometimes that is raw fish like the bluefin tuna pictured above, yellowfin tuna, or salmon, but it doesn't have to be. The popular California Roll sold at nearly every sushi restaurant in the U.S. is simply cucumber cut into matchsticks and imitation or lump crab meat. There's not an ounce of raw seafood to be found anywhere.

Like everything, sushi has evolved over the years as sushi chefs have combined foods from other cultures into their custom rolls. Some feature cooked shrimp, others top it with cooked steak, and for the non-meat eaters, many offer meatless versions with nothing but fresh veggies. There are many who even roll them up and deep fry them because, AMERICA!

Hopefully, I've presented a strong enough case that you may be willing to give it a try. If you're ready, here are a few of my favorite places to go in the Tri-State, along with my recommendation of a non-raw fish option from each to help ease you into it. Enjoy!

TRY THIS: Non-Raw Fish Sushi Options for Beginners

 

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