Sushi: Edible Art

By R. Jill Fink, MFA

Sushi, anyone? Ask your friends and co-workers, and 98% of the time, you’ll get an adamant response. That answer might be a resounding “yes,” but often, it’s a very firm “no.” I pose another question to those of you who make that wrinkly face and shake your head while refusing: have you really tried sushi, or do you think it’s just raw fish on a pile of cleverly-shaped rice?

Thousands of years ago, people in China and Japan preserved their fish by packing it in salt and rice. This resulted in a pungent, fermented dish that was both economical and tasty. In 1913, when refrigeration was invented, fresh fish replaced the preserved variety and modern sushi came about. Often misunderstood, this edible art is ever-evolving.

The word “sushi” refers to the vinegared rice used to make maki, the rolls of sushi cut into bite-sized pieces, and nigiri, the individual, finger-sized bites of prepared rice topped with either cooked or raw fish, smoked eel, or other ingredients. Sushi can be vegetarian, exotic, or completely Americanized as in the “California” roll, which is simply imitation (cooked) crab, avocado and fresh cucumber wrapped in sushi rice and a thin sheet of nori, which is made with an edible seaweed species of red algae.

Sashimi is where the raw fish comes in, but all of it has been pre-frozen at very low temperatures then thawed and kept chilled to ensure that it’s safe for consumption.

Grace Sushi, located at 8075 SW Hwy 200 in the Canopy Oaks Publix Center, serves up expertly created sushi, sashimi, noodles and tempura dishes. In the mood for something light? Try one of their delicious soups and a fresh, crisp salad. Feeling more adventurous, but not quite the sushi expert yet? Try a fun bento box: grilled vegetables and tender meats or tofu served with a few pieces of sushi, tasty fried rice and a small side salad. Grace even offers kids’ meals, straight from the hibachi.

During my visit I tried the Amazing Roll, which was beautiful and very tasty. Spicy tuna, avocado, and crispy, tempura-battered shrimp are rolled in sushi rice then wrapped in a thin, delightful soy paper. It’s topped with spicy crab and Grace’s own special sauce.

The Jimmy Smith roll is crafted with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and crab, rolled inside rice then dipped in tempura batter and fried. The pieces are topped with sauce that is slightly spicy, very creamy, and a perfect complement to this roll.

The Tuna Tataki appetizer is a great way to introduce yourself to sashimi. Tuna is lightly seared on all sides, then sliced thin and served with a citrusy, savory Ponzu sauce.

The next time you’re out near On Top of the World, check out Grace Sushi. You can dine in the clean and cozy space of their dining room, choose one of the eight seats at the sushi bar, or call 352-291-9303 for take-out seven days a week.

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