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Nikiri & Nitsume

Nikiri-jōyu is the specially prepared soy sauce for sushi.
Soy sauce is made from soy beans,  wheat and salt by a fermentation with rice malt ('kouji.')


Without soy sauce (sho'oyu,) sushi can not be eaten because it is somehow fishy and less tasty indeed.  An ordinary soy sauce is sometimes a bit salty and bitter for some kinds of sushi, which have lighter tastes such as sea bream ('tai') or flounder/plaice ('hirame'/'karei') etc.

From the old days, a specially prepared soy sauce for suhi ('nikiri') has been used, and still now, those restaurants who have self-prides or self-confidences never use a mere 100% regular soy sauce.

Some limited good sushi restaurants use this type of soy sauce.  The sauce is added by a little brush onto the surface of sushi topping by the chef himself at the moment when he serves the sushi to the customer, so that one does not need to dip sushi in soy sauce at all, further one of such restaurants never place a small dish and/or soy sauce on the counter eventually.

Preparation of nikiri is very easy:
Say sauce 100  pts
Mirin (sweet cooking saké) 10   
Saké (rice wine) 10   
Dashi (Broth of bonito) 20   

Heat the mixture slowly until just before it is going to boil, in order to preserve the sent of the sauce, and cool it down.  On the other hand, an old traditional and formal due process is to boil down ('ni-kiru') to a half volume of the beginning to deodorize a stronger smell that was a particular characteristic of the soy sauce those days made by an outdated production method.

By the way, other type of sauce, called 'Iri-zake' was also used. (Sake, roasted salt, broth and pickled plum are mixed.)

Nitsume (or 'Tsume' in short):
Another type of condensed sushi sauce.  Also in former times, viscous and heavy 'nitsume'-sauce was originally prepared by each sushi restaurants with own different recipe, but today it is made almost one way.  The broth of anago (conger eel) is used.  Sugar, mirin (sweet cooking rice wine) and soy sauce are added, then it is boiled down to about one third by volume under a low heating for a while.

Nitsume is commonly used only for boiled sushi toppings like anago, and shako (mantis shrimp) or octopus, etc. as needed.

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Updated on: 2007.03.08
Created on: 2003.05.10
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