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What’s Edo-mae sushi? — the definitive Japanese sushi

Sushi can be viewed as a representative Japanese cuisine. One well-known sushi is Edo-mae. Meet Toshikatsu Aoki, the hard-working second-generation master chef of Sushi Aoki in Ginza, Tokyo, where prestige sushi restaurants gather.
He says, “Edo-mae has several definitions. First, it means sushi made of fish from Edo front — Tokyo Bay. Second, it refers to sushi made with additional labor and refined taste.”
What “additional labor” means in many cases is heating and marinating. Kohada (spotted shad), mackerel, and halfbeak are marinated in rice rice vinegar. Clams and anago (conger eel) are heated. With kohada, for instance, after cutting off the head, opening the body, and removing organs, it’s salted and then marinated in vinegar. Following a little maturation, this fish becomes a well-matched ingredient with sushi rice.

Sushi for the joy of savoring the changing four seasons

Japanese cuisines are closely connected with the seasons. So is sushi. Delicious seafood changes by season. In spring, kasugo or kodai (small porgies) and sayori (halfbeak) in early summer, aji (horse mackerel) and kisu (sand borer) in mid-summer, young kohada or shinko (spotted shad) prized in Edo-mae sushi in fall, autumn mackerel and kohada. Then in winter, fish grow fatter for spawning and tastier, too, especially hikarimono — fish with shiny skins.
Ingredients as well as arrangement vary with the seasons because of the fat fish preserve in their bodies. Mr. Aoki changes everything including salt and rice vinegar throughout the year. For the best marriage of materials and sushi rice, he must judge fish condition and adjust his “labor.”
Where the products are from is also important.
He says, “Since I dedicate myself to Edo-mae sushi, I prioritize fish from Tokyo Bay. Mackerel, halfbeak, horse mackerel, small porgy… most fish for Edo-mae sushi are in Tokyo Bay.”

Communicating the unique excellence of Japan with skill

Mr. Aoki stayed abroad in the U.S.A. There, he got an idea for entertaining foreign guests by helping them enjoy sushi at his Ginza “stage” that serves international visitors.
“We’re ready to serve elaborately prepared sushi. But I choose a classic selection of traditional Edo-mae sushi for these overseas visitors. I imagine they’ll feel disappointed having a creative selection of sushi like back home if they spend time in Ginza, Japan. Our Edo-mae sushi bar allows guests to see how the chef makes sushi by slicing, arranging ingredients, and combining them with rice.”
There are now many international guests with chopstick handling skills. Yet they understand it’s even more delicious to have fresh sushi right out of the master’s hand.
Mr. Aoki says, “Unlike most Japanese, who eat one sushi piece in one bite, foreign visitors don’t really eat pieces of sushi in one bite. So I serve sushi in smaller pieces or cut pieces in half. I change the way I serve sushi by observing individuals.”
His notion: the best part of Japanese cuisine is treating any tool in a courteous manner.
“The most basic part of preparation and finishing our work is courtesy. That’s required of a master chef. I’d like any guest to enjoy the essence of this at the counter of a sushi bar.”

Typical SUSHI

  • Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna)Chu-toro
    (medium fatty tuna)
  • Akami (lean meat)Akami
    (lean meat)
  • Hirame (flounder)Hirame
    (flounder)
  • Akagai (arch shell)Akagai
    (arch shell)
  • Kuruma-ebi (Japanese tiger prawn)Kuruma-ebi
    (Japanese tiger prawn)
  • Uni (sea urchin)Uni
    (sea urchin)
  • Kohada (spotted shad)Kohada
    (spotted shad)
  • Tako (octopus)Tako
    (octopus)

Toshikatsu Aoki's Favorite Tools

  • Rice tubs — shari-oke

    Rice tubs
    (shari-oke)

    A small sized tub is used for keeping shari — vinegar rice — for hand-making sushi. Aoki Sushi tubs were crafted by a Kyoto artisan. Since tubs are wooden, they can turn moldy, so chefs repeatedly wash and dry tubs with care.

  • Sushi roller — maki-su

    Sushi roller
    (maki-su)

    A mat of long thin bamboo strips woven together by cotton threads, this tool is used to create maki-mono (rolled sushi). A sheet of nori (dried seaweed) is placed on the maki-su, steamed sushi rice is spread over it, and ingredients are rolled. Sushi masters themselves repair broken threads.

  • Knives — hocho

    Knives
    (hocho)

    Japanese cooking knives (hocho) are indispensable tools for preparing fish. Made of steel, hocho can easily rust in water. Sushi chefs themselves need to choose the right hocho and practice proper techniques for sharpening and cutting. Without this, even good knives cannot create delicious sushi.

WHISKY
ウイスキー
RICE VINEGAR
お酢
KATSUOBUSHI
鰹節
SOBA
蕎麦
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ラーメン
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Utaki
御嶽
Lunch “A”
Aランチ
Ryukyu Karate
琉球空手
Italy
Neon Genesis EVANGELION
Japan
(Original)
China
Kuroko's Basketball/ Magi
Thailand
Summer Wars
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Harajuku fashion is a way to express myself.
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The color wizard behind 80s kawaii revival.
Small Torii
小さな鳥居
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Uchimizu
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New Kyoto-style umbrellas
新しい京和傘
OSAMU TEZUKA
creator of Japan’s manga and anime cultures
OTAKU CAMERA
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VACUUM TUBE HEADPHONES
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BRAIN WAVE CAT EARS
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デパ地下
Picks
楊枝
Cosmetics
化粧品
Metal tableware
金属食器
TABAIMO
KOHEI NAWA
TAKU OBATA
HISASHI TENMYOUYA
MENBURYU
NIIHAMA TAIKO MATSURI
NACHI-NO-OGI MATSURI
NEBUTA MATSURI
NOH
JUDO
柔道
NIHONBUYO
日本舞踊
IAI
居合
EDOKIRIKO
江戸切子職人
KACCHU-SHI
甲冑師
FOOD MODEL CRAFTSMAN
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SUKIYA-DAIKU
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FAMILY COMPUTER / NES
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GAME CREATOR
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SPACE INVADERS
SPACE INVADERS