I found the Times article to be a good primer for enjoying sushi. I
use the term primer as the information was not anything new. It was
probably useful for those who consider a spicy tuna roll, California
roll or something with cream cheese to be hallmarks of a good sushi
bar. Language is an unfortunate barrier and as most sushi chefs are
Japanese nationals, their English leaves much to be desired. One
doesn't always get an accurate explanation as much as a convenient
one. I point this out with the term "oshinko." This is a generic
term for Japanese pickled vegetables. Oshinko can be made from Nappa
cabbage, cucumbers, daikon, burdock root (gobo), eggplant, etc. It's
much like the term "pickles." Pickles can be dills, half-sours,
bread & butter, etc. Oshinko-maki is definitely a good ending to a
sushi meal. However, what one sushi chef puts inside his
oshinko-maki is not necessarily the same as anywhere else. The
article defines oshinko as a roll made with cucum!
ber, ume paste (bai niku) and shiso. That's only one possibility.
At my favorite sushi restaurant, I'll be asked what I'd like in my
oshinko-maki as I will vary my choice according to what I feel like.
One of my favorites is a roll of yama-gobo (pickled burdock root),
shiso leaf (ooba), sesame seeds and katsuo-bushi (dried bonito
shavings). Another favorite is substituting the yama gobo with
takuan (pickled daikon, yellow in color). A good (and honest) sushi
chef will know what combinations work the best and should discourage
a patron from trying to create outlandish combinations of ingredients
because it's "cool." This is how some of the crazy rolls have come
to be. I'm not against creativity but some combinations of
ingredients work better than others. That knowledge is part of what
we pay for when enjoying sushi.