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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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Sushi is popular. It’s a stress-free way to entertain or fun to make together with friends. But there are a couple of things you should be aware of before you go shopping for the ingredients. First of all make sure you know where the fish comes from and how it was caught. An environmentally-friendly choice would be salmon from organic aquaculture, organically farmed shrimp and prawns and surimi from MSC-certified Alaska pollock. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Germany has published a guide to making sustainable sushi. They’ve done all the research so that you can shop for fish in a sustainable way. The recommendations are based on the state of the fish stocks, the fishing methods used, the environmental impact of the fishing industry and the production conditions.

Critical: fish from sustainable fisheries

One classic sushi ingredient is tuna, in Europe most of the tuna on offer is yellow-fin tuna from the Pacific or Indian Oceans. Don’t buy bluefin tuna or European eel – they’re both on the Red List of endangered species. Surimi is fish muscle flesh ground to a paste and mixed with other ingredients. It can contain flesh from several species and only if all the facts about all the species are listed can you tell reliably what you’re eating.

Buy responsibly to make your own sushi

There are a few ‘sustainable sushi’ restaurants, but in most restaurants you don’t see any information about sustainability on the menu. On the other hand, if you make sushi yourself you can buy the ingredients responsibly and support environmentally-friendly fisheries. The blue label of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an important decision aid for wild-caught fish. With farmed fish, look for organic certifications.

Making sushi

The basic ingredient is a special round-corn rice, which is cooked as usual, drained and then flavoured with rice wine, salt and sugar. To make nigiri sushi you moisten your hands with vinegar water and shape a portion of the sticky rice into a rectangle. Raw fish or shrimps go on top and you season it with a little wasabi - that hot green horseradish paste. To make maki sushi you need sheets of dried seaweed, called nori. Spread them out on a bamboo mat, spread with a layer of rice and a filling and use the mat to roll them up into a cylinder. Options for filling include tuna and salmon, smoked trout, surimi, prawns, but also cucumber and carrot strips, mango and avocado. They’re usually dipped into soy sauce before eating. Eating a slice of ginger neutralises the fishy taste if you want to switch to another filling.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de