Category Archives: Did You Know?

The Rise of the Japanese Ceviche

Ceviche: Origins and the Japanese Influence

Ceviche is your spicy, raw fish salad that has salt, garlic, chopped onions, and hot Peruvian peppers like aji or amarillo, mixed and marinated in lime. The lime denatures the fish protein, giving it a slightly cooked texture. In other words, the fish is chemically cooked by citric acids making it tender, hence it is not raw fish anymore. Many people think that ceviche is native to Mexico because the dish has been part of traditional Mexican cuisine for centuries, especially of the people living near the coast. But it is not so.

Peru is the birthplace of ceviche, dating back to when Spaniards first imported citrus to the new world. The initial versions were thought to have been brought to Peru by Moorish women from Granada together with the influx of Spaniards in colonial times.

Present day ceviche is the national dish of Peru, so popular that it has its own national holiday. There are many restaurants in the country solely dedicated to ceviche, they’re called cevicherias, especially in Lima, somewhere like 20,000. While there are generally just 5 ingredients in ceviche – fish, salt, onion lime and chili – there are many variations. In Peru there’s ceviche with a touch of milk, passion fruit, orange juice, celery, among others. It is garnished with lettuce leaves, corn kernels and sweet potato.

The traditional ceviche used to be marinated for 12 hours, and then the Japanese came. The Nikkeis people, of Japanese ancestry, first emigrated to South America in 1899 to work in the cotton and sugarcane fields. Japanese ingredients and way of cooking were not at first understood by Peruvians, but slowly soy sauce and ginger became part of Peruvian cuisine.

Equal lovers of fish, the Japanese eventually began opening cevicherias. The merging of Peruvian and Japanese techniques became known as the Nikkei cuisine. The Japanese influence enabled a shorter marinating time for the famous ceviche.

In the 1970s, when Toyota and Mitsubishi started exporting to Peru, a classically trained Japanese sushi chef, Nobu Matsuhisa, came to Lima, age 24, to open a sushi restaurant. Limited by the range of ingredients available, he adapted and improvised using Peruvian ingredients. This is now known as the Nobu style, eventually turning into a global restaurant empire. Meanwhile, the traditional ceviche has spread around the world, adapting to the country and culture where you find it.

Peruvian and Japanese Fusion in Issaquah

Ceviche is a great alternative to sushi – especially if you are not a fan of raw fish. Experience our Japanese ceviche at Aji Sushi here in Issaquah and recall how much has Japanese influence have on Peru’s national dish.

Japanese Grilled Foods: Types and Traditions

The Many Faces of Japanese Grilled Foods

One of the oldest cooking techniques since the dawn of humanity is grilling over open flame. Traditionally, in Japanese homes, the family hearth is the center of the house where people come together for warmth, light, drying clothes and cooking. For two thousand years until the 1950s, it was wood-base charcoal grilling that cooked food. From then, many cooking techniques developed as well as the dishes cooked. Here, we delve on the different types of Japanese grilled food. Some of them you might have already tried and loved.

Teppanyaki is one of the most popular, using teppan-style cooking. The meat and vegetables are grilled on open-iron foodtop. Teppanyaki came into being in post-war Japan when it copied the American-style steakhouse setting. Today’s teppanyaki styles, tastes and presentations are only limited through a chef’s creative skills. The popular Japanese pancake, okonomiyaki, also uses the teppan.

There is Yakitori and Yakiton. Yakitori refers to chicken meat. Chicken parts are grilled over charcoal until they are crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. All parts of the chicken are used, even hearts and intestines. On the other hand, yakiton is similar but it is for pork.

Yakiniku is Japanese barbeque, with beef or pork cooked over charcoal flame tableside. The meat are bite-sized slices, juicy and tender in themselves but also because various marinades and dipping sauces are used. There’s sakana no shioyaki which refers to any fish seasoned with salt and grilled over charcoal. Most popular grilled and skewered fish are the ayu (sweetfish) and the saba (mackerel).

Robatayaki or robata, is a style of cooking around an irori hearth originated by Hokkaido fishermen. Robata restaurants that specialized in this technique have a large irori hearth or central grill with seats around it. The chef lays all the meat, fish or shrimps for diners to see and choose from. Food is grilled and served on a wooden oar in tribute to the cuisine’s fisherman origins.

However, if you are having kabayaki, grilled food from the Edo period, the fish or eel is first boned and butterflied and the fillet marinated in sweet soy-based sauce. Then they are skewered, cooked over charcoal and served with steamed rice.

You never thought grilled Japanese food could have different cooking techniques, did you?

Grilled to Perfection in Issaquah

Try any of Aji Sushi’s juicy offerings – grilled just right. Here at your Issaquah sushi restaurant, our cooking and cooking equipment spell quality – for dining enjoyment.

Miso Soup: Not Just a Cup of Soup

The Healing Cup of Soup

Most Americans will set aside miso soup and regard it as an unnecessary accompaniment to a regular meal. Or after a Japanese dine-out, you might just have to take it home and let it sit in the fridge forever. It can be a cumbersome process making this at home, but knowing this soup’s healing qualities, you’d make it part of your diet.

Made from soybeans, sea salt and koji (a mold starter), and often mixed with rice, barley or other grains, miso soup is the result of 3 months to a few years of fermentation process. It brings out all its enzymes. Zybicolin, the binding agent in miso, is effective in detoxifying and eliminating elements your body has absorbed through industrial pollution, radioactivity and artificial chemicals in the soil and food system.

You are looking at a food preparation that has been a Japanese staple for thousands of years. The Japanese of today begin their day with a warm bowl of miso to energize their bodies and aid in their digestion.

What’s in Miso Soup

Just what is in miso soup that makes it a powerful, healthy dish?

Miso soup is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids, building blocks of your body organs and systems. It stimulates your stomach digestive juices to make for better digestion. It assimilates all the foods in your intestine and restores the probiotics that are otherwise lost in stomach acid, hence promoting still better digestion. From miso soup, you get vegetable-quality vitamins, B12 in particular.

Miso soup strengthens the quality of blood and lymph fluid and lowers the levels of your harmful cholesterol. It is high in antioxidants, enhancing your body’s battles against free radicals, reducing your risk for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. It amazingly protects against radiation due to dipilocolonic acid, which mixes with heavy metals, and discharges them from the body.

The soup is not just healthy, but also tasty. A wonderful mix of sweet and salty flavors improves the appetite and goes well with a variety of other dishes. Cook with root vegetables, wakame sea vegetable and dark leafy greens to bring out the earthy tones and hearty flavor. Try not to overpower the dish that it becomes strongly salty by using more than enough miso.

Serving Healthy in Issaquah

Experience healthy miso soup at Aji Sushi in Issaquah and take in its enzyme-rich and protein-building deliciousness. We serve only quality and authentic Japanese even in our cups of soup.

Chirashi: Sushi in a Bowl

Chef’s Choice – Chirashi Bowl

Do you ever wish that you could eat your sushi out of a bowl? If so, our Issaquah sushi restaurant has good news for you. Try ordering a bowl of our chef’s special chirashi bowl. This way, you can try assorted sushi all in one dish!

Everything in one

Chirashi sushi, or “scattered” sushi, comes in the form of a bowl of sushi rice topped with some form of seafood or vegetable. Usually this topping will be either seaweed or sashimi, giving you a real sushi taste in a convenient bowl form. Many sushi fans appreciate the versatility of a chirashi sushi bowl, in that they can alternatively eat their fish as sushi or as sashimi. Try it out for yourself at Aji Sushi & Grill in Issaquah!

Japanese and Korean Cuisines: World’s Healthiest

Asian Neighbors and Common Cuisine

A US-based global movement named Oxfam reported that not only are Japanese and Korean cuisines two of the healthiest in the world but also are outstanding where healthy eating habits and food availability are concerned. Both have common basic elements, like rice, vegetables, meat and fish, contributing to some of the longest life expectancy in the world.

While Korea is famous for its variety of side dishes, Japan is known for her soups. Both involve slow food cooking generally and are quite unlike the growing fast food trends in the West, even if lifestyles in metro areas have been fast-paced. There is no rushing East Asian food. Even the eating styles are different – Asian dining is about eating together and sharing, not individualistic. Japanese and Korean meals mean variety and customization, there’s something for everyone. In contrast, Western meals are one-menu sit-downs.

Note that the use of chopsticks; they contribute to eating more healthy. You tend to concentrate on the food, slow down and lose some of the weight. Smaller plates not only provide you differing varieties, allow you to soon finish your meal, not necessarily stopping because you’ve already emptied your plate, as Westerners do. In Japan and Korea, you finish when you are not hungry anymore.

Look at what makes these East Asian meals so healthy. Firstly, they use fermentation that keeps the enzymes, vitamins, probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids intact. Thanks to their soybean meals, tofu and soymilk for their wealth of iron, calcium and proteins, while staying low in carbs and fats. Vegetables are a major part of Asian diet as well as their vitamin-rich rice.

They use condiments that are low in sugar and fat content. They much prefer nuts and dried fruits for snacks, and not chips and chocolate bars. Finally, helping your weight, health and digestion are Japan and Korea’s natural alcoholic beverages and their much-loved green tea.

Balance is what Japanese and Korean cuisine is all about, a balanced mix of vegetables, protein, and grains, some oils, sauces, and fruits. It is little wonder why theirs are two of the healthiest cuisines in the world.

Experiencing Asian Delights in Issaquah

Our Issaquah sushi restaurant offers Japanese classics with their healthy and tasty portions, complete with their balance mix. Savor authentic Japanese when you dine with us. Also, know that we offer Bibimbap, too, if you are just as passionate for Korean fare.

Why Does Nigiri Sushi Come in Pairs?

Life is better with Two

If you visit a lot of places like our Issaquah sushi restaurant, you’ve probably noticed that nigiri sushi is almost always served in sets of two. Have you ever wondered why Japanese establishments so often serve their nigiri like this?

Nigiri Pairs

Serving nigiri in sets of two started back in the eighteen hundreds. Edomae-zushi, the predecessor of the nigiri sushi we know today, was the common form that sushi took in this time. Such sushi came in the form of a single large, square piece.

These pieces were often too big for most diners to comfortably eat, so people got in the habit of cutting the edomae down the middle into two bite-sized pieces. Over time, restaurants began to serve their sushi way, and the nigiri sushi as we know it was born.

What is Inari?

Deep Friend Tofu Skin

The world of sushi is one of many nuances and surprises, even for the experienced diner. If you think you’ve tried every roll and every nigiri in the book, come on down to our Issaquah sushi restaurant to try some inari.

Inari, or inarizushi, is a curious golden-brown deep fried tofu skin that may not look like a piece of sushi you normally see. One of the simpler varieties of sushi, it consists of a small brick of sushi rice wrapped up in a coat of the fried tofu skin. The end result is quite delicious, and is a popular choice for many Japanese children. It often goes under the nickname of “brown bag sushi” or “football sushi”, describing its distinctive shape. Come and give it a try at Aji Sushi and Grill!

The Secrets of Japanese Grilling

Robata Grilling: Serious Grilling by Japanese Chefs

Just how serious do Japanese chefs get when it comes to grilling? They employ the ancient style of grilling – the tradition of robata. Robata means “fireside cooking” in Japanese, with results that are dramatic and delicious. It’s tradition and history are much longer than Japanese sushi.

Hardwood charcoal are stacked in such a fashion that creates an even heat source. It is devoid of binders and tends to burn hotter than ordinary charcoal, like briquettes. Depending on the tree-source of hardwood, this high-quality charcoal can burn in incredibly high temperatures. For Robata grilling, the white binchotan charcoal is favored for super-hot heat.

There is a stacking method used to avoid big differences in heat distribution across the grill. Hardwood charcoal is stacked Jenga-style, not dumped, creating a tower. The hardwood pieces, picked up by tongs, are arranged in a crosshatch pattern about the size of the meat on skewers. Leave about an inch of space between the meat and the heat, but if it is chicken, the charcoal is about three to four inches from it, which allows the skin to crisp while the chicken fat slowly renders.

Generally, if the charcoal tower is too short the meat won’t cook fast enough, and too tall – the meat will burn. One other detail is to use the hands-on approach, literally using your fingers. Using tongs can bruise the meat and release juices, affecting the overall taste.

This style doesn’t use barbecue sauce, but sauces that heighten the taste of the protein being grilled.
The traditional tare sauce, salty with just enough sweetness, works well with chicken, beef, pork, or seafood. It’s the perfect grilling glaze; specific measurements for every pound of protein.

Savory, Smoky Aromas from Issaquah Sushi Restaurant

Enjoy the smoky flavor of Aji Sushi grilled meats in Issaquah. We are passionate about our grilling to bring you authentic Japanese dishes from our grill to your plate.

Japan’s Most Popular Seaweeds

Seaweed Varieties and Uses

Let’s look at five of Japan’s best loved seaweeds – the most consumed varieties and how they’re used.

Nori (海苔) is the most familiar, a type of red algae that appears green to the eyes. It looks like paper and is used to wrap sushi rolls and onigiri or rice balls. It’s being consumed by ancient Japanese as paste and not until the Edo period in the 1750’s did they discover the paste can be formed into paper-like strips and taste as delicious.

Nori is also a popular seasoning in ramen soups and noodles, sprinkled atop some dishes, and can even be eaten as snacks. Aonori (青海苔) is blue green nori, actually a different species of sea algae used to flavour many dishes. It is usually available as a dried and powdered ingredient. When sprinkled over food, it releases a very powerful aroma and brings out the flavors dishes like yakisoba noodles, octopus balls, tempura (shrimps), and also used to flavor Japanese potato chips.

Then there’s the Konbu (昆布) a sea kelp which grows in long strips and is the main ingredient for making dashi soup (stock) where its dried form is boiled into dashi. Konbu is also pickled in vinegar, chopped into fine strips, or made into tsukudani, a chilled side dish, or as powdered konbu made into Japanese tea. Hijiki (鹿尾菜) is one more seaweed, a type of brown algae but looks black and usually sold dry. It is added to fish or vegetables, eaten as side dish, and flavors sushi.

Finally, the Wakame (若布), also a sea kelp like konbu, but much more tender and succulent. It is a brown algae, even though it is bright green. It goes with root vegetable, added to miso soup, salads or eaten by itself. It is also a very rich source of Folic acid.

Classic Dishes Flavored by Seaweeds

Enjoy Japan’s popular seaweeds in your classic favorites at Aji Sushi, your Japanese restaurant in Issaquah. Have seaweed in our salads, sushi and miso soup and look no further than Aji Sushi.

Agedashi Tofu: A Heartier Tofu!

Not a big fan of tofu? Think again.
In the West, we don’t have a terribly high regard for tofu. It has a reputation as a “diet food”, with great potential for health value but little little in the area of taste satisfaction. In Asia, on the other hand, the culinary practice of cooking tofu is old enough to have been honed as a cultural art form.

Japan brings us a wide range of tofu dishes, sure to tempt even the strictest carnivore. Therefore, if you’re looking for something more out of your tofu, our Issaquah Japanese restaurant invites you to give agedashi tofu a try.

The word “agedashi” translates to “deep-fried”. Agedashi tofu is a well-known recipe dating back hundreds of years. A cookbook from as early as 1782 shows us what may be the earliest depiction of the dish. This recipe traditionally calls for a square of tofu to be dusted in potato or corn starch and deep fried to a golden-brown color.

It is then topped with chopped onions and served with a hot sauce made with soup stock, rice wine, and soy sauce. The end result is so hearty and flavorful, you just might forget that you’re not eating meat! Try it out at Aji Sushi and Grill today.