Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yet another sushi variation: temari-style

I've been meaning to take a picture of my pumpkin beer and pumpkin butter outside to conclude my pumpkin-season food posts, but with the sun going down sooner and my work schedule being a little bit on the crazy side, I just haven't had the time. I really enjoy taking pictures of food a whole lot more when I can take pretty pictures. My chances of taking pretty pictures are exponentially higher when I take them outside...

Anyway... I spent the last two days in Berkeley, attending a bioinformatics conference/workshop over at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBL). I'm amazed to say that at this conference, the people there - both participants and organizers - talk a whole lot about food. We've had discussions on a wide range of topics, starting from the origins of corn oil to the pricing structure of milk in CA. Interesting group of people - seems like these bioinformatics-type people are a whole lot more interesting than cancer biologists! Since this workshop has a hands-on component, I've had my laptop handy for the past two days...and what better things are there to do than to look at all the backlogged photos during breaks?!

Here's what I found, lurking in my folder!


This is a temari-style unagi sushi from Yuzu in San Mateo. Temari-style, like the futomaki, is a non-nigiri style sushi found in Japan. Temari, which directly translates as hand-ball, is a little children's ball that girls and little boys played with back in the old days. I have never seen a temari myself, but the image I have is one that is made out of cloth - which makes me wonder how bouncy this temari could possibly be.

Temari-style sushi mimics the temari-look with its curved, round structure. They tend to be smaller in size, averaging around bite-size, than regular nigiri. Interestingly, anytime I have ever had temari-style sushi was in restaurants that didn't specialize in sushi. They tend to be served at fine-dining establishments, known as ryotei, or at smaller, quiet Japanese bistros, known as koryouri-ya, where the focus is on an assortment of delicately cooked plates. These temari-style sushi is frequently made with fish that's either been marinated or grilled, highlighting the culinary skills and creativity of the chef over the freshness of the ingredients.

The round circles you see on the unagi are small pieces of rice crackers. They were a very welcome addition of crunchy texture to the unagi-rice softness. I tend to not be a big fan of unagi because it tends to be too mushy and oily, but I remember really, really liking the crunch. And these look so cute too!


The Papa Bear said...

Hmm... I just got hungry again...

umetaro said...

what's the "ko" in koryouri? little?

Alice said...

Hi, Umetaro,

Yes, the 'ko' is for little, which would make koryouri-ya into little-cuisine-house, but really, it's nothing like the 'small plates' places in the US... It just means it's not a giant ryotei, but the food, I swear, is often just as good, if not better, in koryouri-ya!

When are we going to Japan for our culinary adventure?!