Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chakin-zushi

Gomoku-zushi wrapped in a thin layer of omelette. 茶巾寿司、茶巾ずし。

The thin omelette has the form of a pouch, and in this respect chakin-zushi is similar to inari-zushi (although the pouch is made of a different substance, being fried tofu in the case of inari-zushi).

Japan is the country of the furoshiki, the wrapping cloth, and these yellow pouches look as if they have been wrapped in a piece of cloth, not anything as large as a furoshiki, but rather a "chakin," which is a linen cloth used for wiping and purifying tea bowls during the tea ceremony.

Interestingly, there is another name for these sushi which refers to another (but also very cultured) piece of cloth: fukusa-zushi ふくさずし. "Fukusa" is a square of silk used by courtiers in the elegant Heian-period and later to wrap up presents or precious articles. The sushi pouch indeed reminds one of delicately gold-colored silk.

The omelette that functions as "chakin" or "fukusa" is square in shape and has to be very thin. It is usually tied with an (edible) dried gourd strip (kanpyo) at the top. Sometimes a small shrimp it put on top as decoration.

The rice used is not ordinary sushi rice, but sushi rice mixed with vegetables and other ingredients, such as black sesame seed, called "gomoku" ("gomoku" literally means "five kinds," but the "five" is meant symbolically as "many").

Chakin-zushi, Gomoku-zushi wrapped in a thin layer of omelette.