Soy Sauce (sho-yu or Murasaki) plays a key role in Japanese cuisine, not to mention sushi. When inexperienced (most non-Japanese) sushi eaters drench sushi with a pool of soy sauce, leaving half of the rice in the little dish, more advanced sushi lovers cringe!
If you have to cover up all the delicate flavors of raw fish and seafood by a salty liquid, why would you even border spending a lot of money on sushi?
To dip or not to dip is the first question. If you are eating at a high quality sushi restaurant (not a typical Asian owned restaurant that also serves what they claim as sushi), you may skip the soy sauce all together?
Can that be true? Oh, yes, it can!
Some sushi restaurants in Japan (by the way, Japanese only eats sushi at sushi restaurants, not at Japanese restaurants), have their “secret” sauces they match to certain types of fish.
They would coat the fish lightly with this delicate flavorings to enhance the actual fish – sometimes the sauce is soy-based, sometimes it is only salt or citrus. Some particularly “fishy” (not because it is not fresh, but it has strong or fatty flavor) fish is served with ginger and chives.
Soy sauce is on the counter for those who would dare, but when in doubt, as the chef to guide you.
In most sushi restaurants, soy sauce plays the key role in enjoying sushi. Pour a little soy sauce (just enough to barely cover the bottom of the plate) into your small soy sauce dish.
You may have two small empty dishes in front of you. So if you are not sure which is for soy sauce, just ask! It is always better to ask than to make a mistake.
When eating sushi, better to use your hand. That’s the reason you receive a warm wet towel before you start your meal. On geta, wooden serving dish, gracefully flip the sushi up-side-down (this may take a little practice.)
By holding the sliced fish with your thumb and using two other fingers to gently hold the sushi (if the sushi is made by a real sushi chef, it should not fall apart), dip about half of the fish part lightly into the soy sauce.
DO NOT OVER DIP! Then eat with the fish side down. This allows the maximum exposure of flavor on your tongue.
When you order sushi served with sauce, do not dip into soy sauce.
If you are eating sea urchin or fish roe, which are served in a “boat” (gunkan), rice wrapped in seaweed, do not flip the sushi as all toppings will fall out. Rather, dip the bottom/side edge where the rice and seaweed meet lightly in soy sauce.