Where to find fresh-made sushi on the Outer Banks.
Coastal Carolina has clean water, fresh fish and hip talent in the kitchen. What better dynamics for sushi aficionados? You can find sushi at local restaurants or you can make it in your home. You can even hire someone to roll it for you in your kitchen. Talk about options.
When the water is cold (in the winter) and the fishing is good, you might even be able snag a small piece of prized bluefin tuna for your daily supper. This is the fish revered by Japanese sushi chefs and brings local boat captains top dollar. A rare treat on local plates, most bluefin tuna is shipped straight to Japan. This luscious fish can be caught if your off-shore trip is very, very good, or if your fish-barter juju is even better. Freshly caught yellowfin tuna is much more readily available, thank goodness, and can be the star of any world-class sushi platter.
Ok, before we get too far along about this fish and that fish, let’s remember that sushi actually means “seasoned rice.” You do not have to have raw fish on a sushi platter; you do not even have to have fish at all. Somewhere along the line, the misconception was perpetuated that sushi meant raw fish. It does not. It means seasoned rice. Raw fish can be one of many ingredients used when creating sushi, but it is not essential.
If you are served thin slices of raw fish, this is called sashimi.
Rolling sushi usually implies that rice seasoned with rice vinegar will be rolled in or around a thin sheet of seaweed, called nori. A variety of ingredients can be used in a roll, also known as maki. A popular style on the Outer Banks, maki often includes locally caught tuna with seasoned, sticky rice and a touch of avocado, or a Spider Roll made with deep-fried, local softshell crabs.
Over the past few decades, imaginative minds have taken the thousands-year-old traditional, culinary art form on a creative journey. Today, vegans can enjoy nori maki made with local sweet potatoes, and Southern carnivores can enjoy a twist with country ham and sushi rice inside a collard leaf. Garnishes often include soy sauce, wasabi (a hot, green, horseradish paste), pickled ginger and touches of secret sauces and bits of bold ingredients.
True masters of the craft would be appalled, but there are lots of good tutorials on the Internet, and there is no reason you shouldn’t try your hand at making sushi. It might not look good when you start but it will taste great. Promise. You can find all of the ingredients you need at just about every local grocery store, and you can procure anything from tuna to soft shell crabs from a local fish monger to start you on your adventure.
A Passion for Sushi
If you want to eat sushi in style at home, call Brian Harris. Based in Hatteras, Harris introduces local ingredients to his mix of contemporary sushi specialties. You might remember him as the owner/chief roller at Haoles Sushi Bar in Avon. Now you can hire him as your private sushi chef, and he can either deliver gorgeous platters to your doorstep or set up a rolling station right in your kitchen. He does need a little advanced notice as this is not fast food. For private sushi chef services, parties and platters, call 252-995-2374 or see his Facebook page, obxsushi.
Let Tortugas Roll You One
Tortugas’ Sushi Nights are legendary. Since 1989, the go-to sushi stop on the Outer Banks has been Tortugas’ Lie on the Beach Road in Nags Head. One night a week only, Wednesdays, you can find friends sharing wasabi-driven eye rolls. In the off-season, service begins at 6 p.m. In the summer, from Memorial Day until Labor Day, sushi goes late night and service begins at 10 p.m. That is right, late-night. Be sure to try their Spider Rolls made with local soft shell crabs and a touch of marinated onion or anything made with local tuna. Sublime. Tortugas Lie, 3016 S Virginia Dare Tr., Nags Head. 252-441-7299, tortugaslie.com
Taiko Japanese Restaurant, Outer Banks Mall, 5000 S. Croatan Hwy, Nags Head. 252-449-8895; taikosushiobx.com
Fuji Japanese Steakhouse, 1201 S. Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills. 252-449-0628; fujiobx.com
Sanya Sushi Bar Japanese and Chinese Cuisine, 3919 N. Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk. 252-261-1946; sanyaobx.com
BuddhaLicious Contemporary Asian Cuisine, 887 Albacore St. Corolla. 252-453-4503, buddhaliciousobx.com
Seafood: Brown Shrimp, Blue Crabs, Clams, Sea Mullet, Pompano, Tuna, Wahoo, Flounder
Produce: Watermelon, Cantaloupes, Tomatoes, Peppers, Butter Beans, Mattamuskeet Sweet Onions, Squash, Eggplant,