Let’s Go Out for... Sushi
How to order and indulge in this Japanese cuisine.
Here’s the thing about sushi: If you already eat it, you know it’s tasty and fun. So we’re going to assume you’ve heard about sushi, listened to friends rave about it but have always been a little too skittish to try it. Maybe you think it’s weird, or maybe you’re a little intimidated because you don’t understand it. We’re here to help.
The first thing you should know is that sushi is quite simple, really. You don’t need vast knowledge of it. The basics: sashimi is freestanding raw fish, nothing added; nigiri
is raw fish served on a tiny bed of rice; rolls combine various ingredients, and many restaurants have their own special combos.
Why you should at least try sushi
- It’s really, really good for you. “Fish is low in PointsPlus™ values and is a rich source of lean protein,” says Maria Kinirons, RD. “Protein keeps hunger at bay because it’s linked with increased physical satisfaction. Fatty fishes such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids and may help to reduce the risk for heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer’s, and depression.”
- It will really, really fill you up for very few PointsPlus values. Kinirons says, “For a PointsPlus value of 15, you could eat one large cheeseburger, or eight pieces of tuna roll and six pieces of rainbow roll and four pieces of California roll.” (Above rolls are a mix of fish, vegetables and rice.)
- The cost is reasonable. A sushi dinner will run you about $25 per person for entrées, and many, many restaurants do lunch specials, sometimes called bento boxes, that include miso soup, green salad, tuna roll and white rice for around $15 per person.
So what’s the deal with these rolls?
Think of rolls as the combo deals of sushi. Some of the most popular rolls are tuna, salmon, yellowtail, eel, shrimp and crab. Each has a twist, like an added spicy flavoring (spicy tuna) or avocado, cucumber and scallion (yellowtail scallion). Some rolls involve more than one fish and vegetable. A robust example of this is the rainbow roll, which combines crab, avocado and cucumber filling wrapped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail or whitefish.
Rolls are sliced into pieces before they are served to you, and any number up to 12 pieces is considered a healthy serving. You’ll feel plenty satisfied if you add some starters such as miso soup (2 PointsPlus values per cup), a vegetable salad without dressing (0 PointsPlus values) or a side of shelled edamame (soy beans, 2 PointsPlus values per half cup), all Power Foods that will help prevent you from overindulging on sushi.
Your best bet for staying on plan is to choose plain rolls with vegetables (tuna and cucumber or salmon and avocado) or go with sashimi. Stay away from rolls baked in mayonnaise (dynamite roll) or paired with cream cheese (Philadelphia roll) or any type of batter-fried tempura roll. “Six pieces of spider roll [fried whole soft-shell crab with avocado, caviar and cucumber] have a PointsPlus value of 10 compared to 4 PointsPlus values for six pieces of tuna or rainbow roll,” says Kinirons.
Many sushi chefs are willing to swap brown rice for white or put less rice in your rolls. “We have one regular and famous weight-conscious customer who always orders her rolls wrapped in cucumber shavings, leaving out the rice altogether,” says Joanna Cisowska, public relations director of SushiSamba, New York.
If you choose these lighter options, you can still load up on flavor by dipping your pieces of roll in low-sodium soy sauce with some wasabi mixed in for a spicy kick. Add a few shavings of ginger on top for more flavor and to help with digestion.
You can wash down your sushi with light beers such as Sapporo or Kirin, or sake (a safe low-calorie option generally made from rice grain). You might also try shochu, a Japanese spirit comparable to vodka and usually served with a slice of cucumber or watermelon to add flavor.