Neologism Of The Sea

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:42 am

Growing up in Hawaii in the late 70’s/early 80’s gave me an interesting childhood relationship with sushi. Sushi in Hawaii does not embody the magic and mystery of the Orient that it does in much of the rest of the nation. Many things that seem exotic in other environs are commonplace in the 50th state, due to the crucible of interacting cultures there.

Much like raw fish (enjoyed most commonly as poke’), sushi in Hawaii inhabits a couple of different culinary and cultural strata; a more commonly accessible niche as well as that of more traditional haute cuisine. It is considered much more of a casual snack—surfer food, even—than it is elsewhere. Sushi is sold in grocery stores and okazuya in a couple of basic forms. None of the highfalutin’ cuisine with its delicate slices of otoro or glistening drapery of uni. The sushi of the proletariat in the islands is available in either maki (roll) or inari (cone) form. There is no raw fish involved, nothing that might easily spoil. It is a simple delivery device for vinegared rice and a few largely shelf-stable wraps and fillers. It was not until I got to the mainland that I was introduced to the wonders of nigiri.

Now as a semi-official Northwsterner and left-coaster, I am in the midst of an intense and abiding love affair with sushi. I can sit down and polish off twenty or thirty pieces without batting an eye. There’s just something about the one-two protein/carb punch of fresh fish and rice that stimulates my yummy centers like little else. Even the protein warhead of a big ol’ rib eye steak can’t touch it. A massive slab of charred cow leaves me turgid and logy, while a party platter of sushi leaves me bright-eyed and ready for action….the primary action coming to mind being the consumption of more sushi. Maybe it’s all the dissolved antidepressants suffused throughout the fresh fish that does it….

I don’t eat sushi as much as would be my druthers; Margaret does not eat raw fish (a phobia leftover from her courses in parasitology in vet school), so I am forced to pursue my passion solo or in the company of the occasional like-minded friend (hi Curt!). As a result my encounters with sushi are relatively few and far between. And sometimes I have to find ways to palliate my cravings in between hot man-on-fish sessions.

Many high-end grocery stores in the Northwest such as Trader Joe’s sell a form of sushi substitute that will temporarily quell the longing. These are trays of mass-produced maki rolls: gluey, semi-pulverized sushi rice filled with a crabesque-salad mixture of pollock, mayonnaise and other flavorings. They bear the same relationship to bona fide sushi as a plastic-wrapped lozenge of binder-infused chopped/formed/pressed turkey meat bears to an actual ten pound tom with garlic-sage stuffing.

The product is by no means sushi, but the size and shape, coupled with the ritualized movements of chopstick and pool of wasabi and shoyu, can temporarily trick the mind into thinking that you are ingesting the real thing. Basically, this stuff is the methadone of sushi.

The other day, whilst gamely masticating a tray of the stuff, I came up with the perfect, the signature name for this product:

mocki. 💡

17 Responses to “Neologism Of The Sea”

  1. SheriHi Says:

    Yum. Sushi. If you get a hankering, give Steve and I a call. I have a long list of sushi restaurants to try, as well as a few favs.

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    I’ll definitely put you two on the list. it’s not that I don’t have friends who also enjoy sushi; it’s that, like police officers, they’re never around when you need them. 😀

  3. Dalek Says:

    Okay, then. Fisherbear loves sushi. I’m in the same camp as Margaret. We’ve managed to work out compromises wherein we are both happy, so I bet you and Margaret can too. We have a reputedly-good sushi place in easy walking distance of our house that also serves cooked items (a must when we go for “sushi,” also known as the compromise) – and of course there’s also Nishino’s (my favorite sushi place). You and Margaret need to come up to our neck of the woods for a sushi(and non-sushi)fest. Either that, or we’ll have to get take-out and come to you. 😉 You and fisherbear can even compare biopsy scars if you want. :mrgreen:

    Speaking of – how’s the recovery coming?

  4. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Fisherbear likes sushi? Pardon my lack of sophistication, but that seems just odd for someone who does not eat pork for “aesthetic” reasons. ❓

    Nonetheless, we would be honored to break surimi with you guys whenever the opportunity presents itself. 😉

  5. YakBoy Says:

    fucking Californians!

    grumble grumble…

    avocado in everything….


  6. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Oh, give it up, you fucking Cro-Magnon; avacados are the food of the future, today! Kneel before my fats, purines and mono amides, puny Earthling! 😈

  7. Dalek Says:

    Fisherbear doesn’t eat pork for environmental and IQ-based reasons, not aesthetic ones. 💡 Sushi, though – no problemo. Tuna, salmon, and mackerel aren’t exactly very high in the neurological development department. Just don’t ask him to eat cuttlefish or octopus.

    Sooo…when would you like to indulge? We’ve got an opening in our social calendar tomorrow evening… 😉

  8. Val Says:

    Mmmmmm… Sushi…

    You know sushi is hitting the mainstream when both Bonney Lake and ENUMCLAW have a sushi joint. The one in Enumclaw (we’ve only been once so far) is fairly good, but a little heavy on the “American” sushi variety which incorporate more cooked proteins, cream cheese and avocado as ingredients. But you can find the more traditional rolls using more traditional ingredients on the menu as well. The waitresses need to work on their facial expressions though–at least the one we had wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect of delivering raw fish to our table. When she asked us if everything was all right, and we gave her two enthusiastic thumbs up, she couldn’t stop herself from blurting out “but are you sure?”

  9. Uncle Andrew Says:

    You know sushi is hitting the mainstream when both Bonney Lake and ENUMCLAW have a sushi joint.

    Yeah, and the Texaco in Royal City had an espresso machine as far back as ’91….doesn’t mean they made coffee worth a damn. 😛

    My Yak-baiting aside, I’m not such a fan of the Amero-centric varieties either, the occasional California Roll aside. I’m a huuuuuge fan of unagi, but other than that the raw varieties are very close to my heart. Maki is great, but it lacks the simplistic beauty of an elegantly crafted morsel of rice and raw fish. Back during my kama’aina days, I would often stop at my favorite poke’ (pronounced pokay) shop in Kaneohe—The Slow Poke’—on my way home from my construction job and buy half a quart of tako poke’ or ahi shoyu and horse it down right there in the parking lot or at a nearby park. The protein rush was almost magical. 🙂

  10. Dalek Says:

    Unagi is the only sushi I’ll eat – that and the freshwater equivalent. Mm! And Nishino does a damn fine job at both. 😉

  11. Margaret Says:

    No, avacados really are evil.
    I don’t do sushi because, as you well know, I don’t do much of ANYthing fishy. But I’m firmly with my brother on this one.
    grumble grumble grumble.

  12. Uncle Andrew Says:

    No, avacados really are evil.

    You eat guacamole, you turkey: what magical parallel dimension do you think that comes from? 🙄

  13. Tony Lenzer Says:

    Mocki Sushi, indeed…priceless! You should submit your piece to Honolulu Magazine, or, better yet, become one of HPR’s outsourced commentators. Your reading probably won’t cause David Sedaris to give up the CD biz, but I know you’d do real fine job!

  14. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Awwww….Dad, you’re gonna make me blush. 😳

    On a related note, thanks to those who met up with us out at Nishino this evening to help take the edge off my nigiri jones. Fan-fishin’-tastic! :mrgreen:

  15. Sara and Danny Says:

    Andrew. We can’t believe that nowhere, not anywhere in this tribute to the joy of rice, was mention of the highly sought after and desirable SPAM musubi: sushi at its basic simplest, but bes’ kine local form. A slab of fried spam, sandwiched between two layers of rice, encased in a layer of nori all wrapped up in plastic wrap. Take it anywhere! Leave it under the seat for a while. Sell for a fund raiser, sneak in the movie theater, in every box lunch. It’s all good. A stable of the hunabuda days. And what is not to love? Warm salty sticky spammy rice. Honestly. 😀

  16. Uncle Andrew Says:

    My God, Sara, you’re absolutely right: I totally overlooked the venerable Spam musubi.I guess I don’t think of them in “that way”, for some reason: like manapua, they occupy their own special niche in the sphere of island snacks. I can even get them locally! We’ve got like three L & L Drive In franchises in this state. Man, now I want a Spam musubi so baaad…. 😯

  17. Sara and Danny Says:

    As it is said: “You can take the local boy out of Hawaii, but you can’t take the Hawaii out of the local boy.” 😉

Leave a Reply

All comments containing hyperlinks are held for approval, so don't worry if your comment doesn't show up immediately. (I'm not editing for content, just weeding out the more obvious comment spam.)

All portions of this site are © Andrew Lenzer, all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted.