When I know I'm going to be spending some time outside of Japan, I sometimes like to carry some condiments or seasonings with me – some good miso or katsuobushi flakes perhaps, or even a packet or two of hearty inaka soba – things I know I won't find on the road.
Or sometimes I just pick up some sushi at the airport, to help with the transition to eating in a land that knows not rice. Obviously nigiri-zushi won't travel; and even maki-zushi has a very short lifespan. But oshi-zushi can easily last a few days, if taken care of.
It's not just the taste that keeps the flavour of Japan alive. It's the way the sushi is wrapped – and the simple enjoyment of opening it up…
Inside the outer paper wrapping, the sushi is in an oblong box, together with a small packet of gari ginger and a few wet-wipes...
The sushi itself is wrapped in bamboo sheath, which has long been reputed to inhibit spoilage.
The cords tying it all together are also made of bamboo sheath.
There's a layer of clingfilm to keep the moisture in…
And the fish itself – saba (mackerel) – protected by a layer of fine, vinegared kombu seaweed, which is there both for its flavour and because it also acts as a preservative.
Here it is in cross-section, with the fish sandwiched between the kombu and the bottom layer of firmly pressed sushi rice.
The fish too has been well steeped in rice vinegar, not just to preserve it but also to balance the oiliness. It's precut into sections, with a thin green bamboo leaf in between each portion.
No shoyu dip needed. The vinegar is already seasoned and lightly salted.