What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a kind of virus that prevents you from using your infected computer, phone, or other device. In most cases, it will encrypt your system preventing you from being able to access your files or other aspects of your machine. What sets ransomware apart from other viruses is the fact that it is designed to hold your data hostage and tries to force you to pay a fee to get it back.
Do Not Pay the Ransom!!!
Apart from encouraging criminal behavior, it is common for the attacker to choose not to unlock a machine, even after the ransom is paid.
Rule #1: Never Trust a Hacker.
In modern computing, nearly every security breach begins with a violation of your trust. While not trusting hackers seems like it should be a no brainer, it is important to understand that there are many common lies that a hacker will use to convince you to install malware or to scare you into not telling anyone who might be able to help restore your PC.
The most common cons include:
- Impersonating legitimate businesses to get you to trust them. Microsoft, internet service providers, web hosting companies, email providers, social media platforms, and banks are all common guises used to make you believe that you are dealing with trustworthy correspondence. They use this trust to make you more careless about the software they install, the links you click, and/or the personal information you provide.
- Once installed, ransomware will often claim that you have done something illegal with your PC, and that you are being fined by a police force or government agency. Legitimate law enforcement agencies NEVER use ransomware to issue fines.
- Another frequent scam hackers use are websites, emails, or phone calls that will claim that you have already been hacked. These are usually not true. They are designed to get you to interact with them in ways that will convince you to install fake programs or pay for fake virus removal, but it is often the counterfeit services they are selling which will contain the actual malware.
What can I do to protect myself from Ransomware attacks?
1. Never assume an email is safe:
Do you trust your bank? Facebook account services? How about your friends? The unfortunate truth is that when it comes to email, the answer to all of these questions should always be “no”. There are countless ways a hacker can fake an email to make it look like it came from someone else, and in many cases, when a hacker gains access to someone’s personal email account, they will use that account to issue spam to everyone on their friend’s list to piggyback on that person’s trusted status.
This does not mean that every email is dangerous, but that you should always exercise due caution with every email that you open.
2. Double-check the content of the message.
There are usually errors or discrepancies that you can spot such as a claim from a bank or a friend that they have received something from you. When in doubt, you can check your recently sent items to verify their claim.
Another tell-tale sign is that fake emails from businesses will often begin with things like “Dear Valued Customer” instead of your actual name.
3. Never open links or file attachments in email
In general, clicking on links in email should be avoided. It is safer to visit any site mentioned in email directly. If you do not know a company’s URL off-hand, use a search engine such as Google or Bing. NEVER follow a link in an email asking your to reset a password that you did not specifically request to have reset, since these are often tricks designed to steal your credentials.
Messages can also contain dangerous file types such as zip, exe, php, html, docx, etc. If you do not recognize a file extension, HERE is a pretty good resource for seeing if it is safe or not. If you ever need to receive a potentially dangerous file type, always confirm with the person that they are the ones sending it.
4. Never click on ads offering free software
These scams generally fall into one of 3 categories.
- Pop-ups claiming that you have been hacked, or that your computer is unprotected. These will try to give or sell you fake antivirus software designed to infect your machine with malware.
- Free games, apps, software upgrades, driver scanners, and other various programs are often bundled with malware that could include anything from malware.
- Cracked/Pirated programs are often bundled with malware. These can be especially malicious because the installation instructions included with them will often instruct you to turn off your anti-virus software while it downloads or installs giving it free reign over your machine.
5. Use a reputable Antivirus security suite
It is always a good idea to have both anti-malware software and a software firewall to help you identify threats or suspicious behavior. Malware authors frequently send out new variants, to try to avoid detection, so this is why it is important to have both layers of protection. Most malware relies upon remote instructions to carry out their misdeeds. If you run across a ransomware variant that is so new that it gets past anti-malware software, it may still be caught by a firewall when it attempts to connect with its Command and Control server to receive instructions for encrypting your files.
6. Backup important data
While many older ransomware viruses can be unlocked using the right anti-virus programs, newer ones usually can not. This is why it’s important to have a good backup plan which can vastly minimize your risk of lose. When it comes to backup and recovery, there are many options to choose from and not all of them are made equal. Some backups may only collect certain kinds of files, or files located in certain places. Some backups may be very complete, but take a very long time to restore if things go wrong. So, it is usually best to refer to your IT provider for advice on the best course of action for your organization.
Google, once again, is excited about social media. But not in the ways you might think; this isn’t about another in a failed string of chat apps, or the knockout success that never was in Google Plus. Instead, it’s an entirely new way of recognizing human faces, and one made possible by — you guessed it — creeping on your social media profiles.
In a recently approved patent, Google detailed a system of “Facial Recognition with Social Network Aiding.” It’s exactly what it sounds like, an attempt to parse social connections as a way to better identify your mug.
We don’t shill.
Reverse Image Search works by attempting to match visual cues in photos with other, similar photos. It works mostly as intended, with some results being dead-on, and others complete misses. But as long as the photo is well-lit, and is of a high enough resolution, Google usually nails it.
Its a system that works, but could use improvement. Sometimes the results are only semi-relevant, and for those who don’t have as much data to pull from, it often overlooks matches entirely. Grab your friend Katie from middle school’s Facebook photo, for example. Chances are it only returns the Facebook account using the photo.
But the new system envisions a world where artificial intelligence would identify faces using not only visual cues, but various forms of data from personal communications, social networks, collaborative apps, and even your calendar.
It’s like this
Users enter a “visual query” in the form of a photo, screenshot or scanned image. The system would then analyze the image and look — using advanced image recognition — for others that are both visually similar, and a potential match using the data sources mentioned above.
Rather than just matching based on visual cues — Google‘s current system — the software would take additional steps to build further confidence in the person’s identity. Pulling from a number of data sources, including your hometown, age, occupation, and various others, Google would strive to be absolutely sure it returns images relevant to your query, based partially on the data it pulled from your social accounts and other collaborative apps.
Let’s attempt to wrap our head around this with a real example. Inputting an image of Amanda, from accounting, for example, should lead to relevant results with the new software due to a number of connections between you, the searcher, and her, the subject of your search. You’re connected by your employer, you’re friends on Facebook, and she routinely retweets you on Twitter. To Google, these all build confidence that Amanda’s image is indeed the one you’re looking for.
Or maybe you’d search for a childhood friend, Jeff. The same reasoning follows: you’re connected by your hometown, your high school, and an approximate age range.
Where the patent falls short is in detailing exactly how Google would use the technology. We can be fairly sure that Reverse Image Search and Google Photos would benefit. The latter, due to some wording that describes automatically sharing a group photo and tagging everyone in it.
But it’s other, less obvious use cases that could be worrisome. If Google were to bring back Glass, for example. Or if it were to reverse course and continue to provide artificial intelligence to the military. If you’re looking for a tinfoil hat example, that exists too; Google could begin feeding this data to law enforcement, like Amazon.
Rekognition, Amazon‘s feature-rich AI, provides real-time facial recognition to a handful of police departments in Orlando, Florida, and Washington County, Oregon. It’s not difficult to envision a competing product from Google.
The patent does note that in certain scenarios — scenarios Google fails to define — a person would have to opt-in to have their identify appear in these results. For now, it appears that we’re in the clear. But since this is only a patent, and not working software — to the best of our knowledge — things could change quickly.
It’s something to keep an eye on, but we certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. At least not yet.
There are a few common problems in the IT world that you just see over-and-over again to the point that many users are quite familiar with them. Some of them are intuitive like a password lock out or a bad update where you experience a problem, your IT guys tells you what it was, and it pretty much makes sense. And then there are caching errors…
What is a Cache and Why Does My Computer Use Them?
A cache is a small section of memory or disk space reserved to in some way allow a program to run faster. If you think of your filing cabinet as your computer, it’s full of all sorts of documents that you may almost never look at, and then there are those documents like birth certificates and social security cards that you need much more often; so, you put them in a special folder at the front so you can find it quickly every time. If you do this, then you’ve created a kind of cache.
Another way caches work is to store data that’s already been processed so that you don’t have to reprocess it every time you need it. This is like keeping a copy of your completed taxes. If you have all your w2s, receipts, etc. you COULD redo your taxes from the original data if you ever had to provide a copy of them for any reason, but it is far more convenient to just hang onto that finished document. This is another kind of cache.
How do Caching Errors Happen?
So far, caching sound like some organizational no-brainer, and mostly it is, but why do they cause problems? That boils down to things changing how you don’t expect them to. If you think about the first scenario, imagine that you started taking lots of documents from everywhere else and putting them in your cache. This would eventually make your cache take just as long to look through as if everything was normally sorted; so, the thing designed to speed you up may actually slow you down. Like this, sometimes a program may start to consume large sums of memory and greatly slow down after prolonged usage because it just keeps hanging on to more and more.
The second case where you are holding processed data is especially great for speeding things up, but what happens when the information you derived your cache from changes? Maybe you filed your taxes, then realized you have an extra tax form you forgot to include. Now all those processed tax forms are no longer relevant and your taxes must be reprocessed. When this kind of caching error happens, you need to “clear your cache” which is like telling the computer to go double check the original documents and reprocess everything.
With the average American spending 10+ hours a day plugged in, eye health is becoming an increasing concern in our nation. Recent studies show that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen exhibit at least some negative symptoms as a result.
TVs, Computers, Cell Phones, Tablets, and other screened devices have all become such integral parts of our professional and personal daily lives that many of us would not even consider living without them at this point… but the negative impact they can have on one’s well-being should not be ignored.
Understanding CSV – Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye problems including eye soreness, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. Likewise, there is no one cause for these symptoms. While many people assume the issue is just THAT they are using their devices too much, experts have determined that many of these symptoms can be negated through better habits and understanding of where these issues are coming from. If you suffer from from the above issues, try following these helpful steps:
- Adjust your lighting: The high contrast between a bright screen and a darker room can create extra strain on your eyes. A well lit room allows your pupils to dilate to the appropriate level for your monitor’s light output, or if your device offers the option, make sure to enable low-light mode and/or blue light filtering whenever you are in a more poorly lite enviornment. This can save your battery life and your eyes.
- The 20-20-20 rule: When you are working (or playing) in front of a screen for extended periods of time, take regular breaks for your eyes. It’s not hard once you get into the habit. Every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, stop to look at something else that’s at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. On a related note, this is not a bad time to get up and walk around, and just let all your other muscles limber up a bit as well.
- Purchase computer glasses They are like reading glasses specifically for computer screens.
- Reposition your monitor: Monitors should be positioned 20″-30″ away whereas TVs should typically be 8-12 feet away depending on the size of your screen. Also make sure that your eyes are on level with your screen. The neck strain and headaches associated with CSV often comes from poor posture resulting in prolonged periods of looking either up or down with your whole head.
- Break up and reduce your total screen time: If your job requires you to look at a computer for eight hours a day, don’t start playing computer games the minute you get home. Spend more time outdoors, and focus on more distant, real-world subjects.
Addressing the eye health and ergonomic needs of your employees is important to the productivity of your workforce. Let one of our consultants evaluate your work-space, and help your employees develop a healthy relationship with their technological needs.
Many people think of cyber security as a specialized skill set handled by that one smart guy you hire to handle it, but as the world progresses, we find that you can’t just rely on someone else to be your sole gatekeeper for your entire computer system. As cyber-security experts have gotten better and better at making secure systems, criminals have gotten equally better at targeting the weakest link in these systems. And in today’s world, that link is typically the end-user.
The Risk of Not Knowing Cybersecurity Best Practices
When you check your email, it is up to you to decide if and email is fraudulent before clicking on any links. When you are on the web, and you are asked to enter a credit card or other personal information, it is up to you to know if the website you are connected to is both secure and legitimate. When you download an app, you have to decide if the permissions that app is requesting are actually things the app needs or if there is an underlying trojan trying to get the privileges it needs to bypass the security features built into your device. When you get a phone call warning you of a problem, you need to decide if the person you are talking to is actually your service provider, or someone trying to get you to divulge sensitive user account info.
Not knowing how to make these choices can be disastrous. One bad click, is all it takes to get your entire network encrypted by ransomware or install spyware that steals all your passwords.
Making IT Services and Personal Responsibility Work Together
This where your IT consulting firm comes in. If you have not received a Cybersecurity Policy from them request one. For most organizations, this should include:
- Criteria for evaluating if an email, website, link, or application should be trusted.
- Restrictions on what websites and services you may access from your work machine.
- Restrictions on what information can be saved and transmitted under various circumstances.
- Protocols for defining what information is confidential, and how to handle its storage and transmission.
- Instructions for identifying security redflags
- A policy for ensuring that employees are regularly trained on emerging security threats.
Don’t have a Cybersecurity Policy yet? Don’t settle for a one size fits all solution. ComSolutions’s expert security analysts can review your business model and help you determine the best approach for your business and regulatory compliance.
Why Sushi is Good for you
Avaliable in every High Street food store, and a lunchtime favourite among office workers, sushi could be providing more than a tasty lunch.
Scientists believe it is one of the reasons why the Japanese are among the most healthy people in the world.
On average, the Japanese diet – raw fish, vegetables and rice – contains only 30pc fat, most of it the healthier polyunsaturated variety, compared with 40pc in Britain.
As a result, their rates of heart disease are among the lowest in the world. Recently, scientists in Japan found that sushi dishes – flavoured parcels of rice with raw fish and vegetables – could even protect smokers against lung cancer.
Professor Toshiro Takezaki, who led the study, says: ‘Japanese people love fresh fish, particularly sushi. We think that is why, even though the Japanese smoke as much as people in the UK, their rate of lung cancer is only two-thirds as high.’
The Cancer Research Campaign believes giving up smoking is the biggest preventive step, but says a high consumption of fresh fish and vegetables would lower the risk.
Here, Good Health gives a user’s guide to the unique health-giving properties of sushi.
On average, each person in Japan consumes around 100 grams of fish every day, in forms such as sushi, tempura and sashimi.
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are linked to heart protection and improved circulation.
However, fish are host to many parasitic worms, and some must be cooked to make sure all worms and their eggs are killed.
Rice is the staple of the Japanese diet. It is a good source of energy and provides a supply of protein. Long used by naturopaths to treat digestive disorders, it sometimes helps in relieving diarrhoea.
Highly refined white rice has fewer nutrients than brown. But brown rice contains phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of iron and calcium into the body.
This is the green paste, often served with sushi, that is the Japanese equivalent of English mustard.
Thought to cleanse the palate, wasabi could also have health benefits. Scientists in Japan have discovered compounds called isothiocyanates in the paste that can help prevent tooth decay.
Wasabi has also been found to aid cancer prevention and prevent blood clots, if eaten regularly.
The Japanese have been eating sea vegetables for centuries. They use seaweed in large amounts in their diet because of its concentrated mineral content.
Up to a quarter of Japanese food contains seaweed to boost flavour. In sushi, dried sheets are wrapped around rice and vegetables to form a mini-parcel.
It is rich in iodine – vital for a healthy thyroid – copper, calcium iron and magnesium.
A popular flavour-enhancer in sushi dishes, ginger is also taken to mark the end of one type of sushi during a meal before moving on to the next.
The spice is widely known to have therapeutic effects, not least in aiding digestion, and is often prescribed by naturopaths to ward off seasickness.
It is also thought to protect against respiratory illnesses and colds, as well as to ease flatulence and gripe. Chewing on ginger can relieve toothache.
A pilot study showed ginger could relieve the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease, which causes painful numbing of the fingers and toes.
Made from fermented soya beans, soy sauce is widely used in Japanese cooking. However, it has a very high salt content and should be avoided by anyone with high blood pressure or who has been told to have a low-sodium diet.
There are some definite benefits linked to a higher consumption of foods rich in soya.
It’s thought that they protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, premenstrual syndrome and even osteoporosis. But it’s better to get the soya from milk or tofu.
The hard roe of cod, eaten boiled, is widely used in Japanese sushi dishes.
Although rich in omega-3 fatty acids thought to help protect against heart disease, it is also high in cholesterol, so it shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts.
Caviar – sturgeon roe – is very expensive but is still high in fat. Typically, fish roe contain about 90 calories per 100-gram serving and are a rich source of protein.
There are likely to be only very small servings in the average sushi.
Because it is high in the purines that trigger gout, sufferers should avoid caviar.
Eating sushi is an artful experience, with different tastes and textures in harmonious balance. Ginger is used to cleanse the palate between different rolls, allowing your mouth to be neutralized with the slight spicy heat of ginger. Ginger is the perfect sushi companion, allowing one to fully appreciate every nuance in the dish that is being enjoyed. Ginger is also used as a garnish and as an essential element in sushi-ya presentations.
Ginger is a plant native to Asia which has been used for its culinary and medical property since time immemorial. The plant is pickled, preserving it for use in sushi. The pickled version of the plant is known as “Gari”, and it has been commonly used not only as a delicious palate cleanser and garnish but also in order to quell stomach pains. Sushi lovers have often noted that they feel healthy and whole after a meal, and ginger could be a part of the equation. Of course, it is natural to feel good after a healthy and delicious meal, so it could be that the effects of ginger are overstated. While the medicinal properties of ginger are up for debate, the balance it creates with fresh, delicious sushi is unmistakable.
Ginger is pale yellow or pinkish when used in sushi, and will provide an artful hue for your presentations. This coloring is caused by the pickling process, which is done by marinating sweet young ginger in sushi and vinegar. This creates a naturally tender and sweet ingredient for use in your sushi presentations.
Ginger is best enjoyed in between rolls, as the tastes will be disharmonious when eaten in conjunction with a morsel of sushi. Ginger is the perfect sushi companion because it cleanses the palate and allows for a proper and full enjoyment of the myriad of delicate flavors found in sushi.
While ginger is perfect as an accompaniment to sushi, gari is quite a versatile ingredient. It can also be enjoyed in stir fries, with noodles, or in salads. When eating ginger with sushi, it is only necessary to provide around 10 grams, or a third of an ounce with each presentation. Of course, ginger lovers may decide that more is necessary, and rightly so!
What is nori (seaweed wrap)?
Nori is the dark green, almost black seaweed used to hold toppings in place or to wrap sushi rolls. While most westerners experience Nori only in sushi rolls, Japanese cuisine has many uses for the ingredient. Nori can be added to soups and seafood dishes to add its salty flavor. If you do wish to use Nori in soups, be careful as the seaweed is dried and thus will expand enormously when hydrated. Nori will even absorb water from the air when stored, and should be stored tightly with a desiccant if not used soon after purchasing.
Nutritionally, Nori is high in protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber. One sheet of Nori, which can be used for an entire roll of sushi, will add only 13 calories to the roll. This is thankful as Nori is an essential ingredient in sushi as we know it today. About a third of Nori is protein and a third fiber, making it one of the main reasons sushi is such a healthy meal. While Nori is rarely enjoyed alone in the Western world, the nutritional benefits can be gained by simply toasting Nori with sesame oil or soy sauce and enjoying it as a stand alone snack.
Nori is harvested in a complex but well understood aquatic agricultural practice. The seaweed is farmed in the sea where it grows on large nets suspended on the surface of the sea. These plants grow at a rapid pace, taking only 45 days to be ready for their first commercial harvesting from the time of seeding. In Japan, which is the greatest producer of Nori, over 230 square miles of coastal waters are used to produce a staggering 350,000 tonnes of Nori yearly for the global market. This is a huge business which has ensured that the process is efficient. Nori is actually a red seaweed as it grows, falling under red algae family of porphyra. However, the processing Nori, which includes shredding, drying, and roasting, changes the color to the dark green that we know. Processed Nori will become even darker as it ages.
If you eat sushi, it is impossible for you to be unfamiliar with Nori. While many newcomers to sushi are worried about the concept of eating raw fish and will stick to vegetarian rolls, they may be blissfully unaware of the fact that seaweed is right under their nose!
Abura Bouzu – (ah-boo-rah boh-zoo) or Abura Sokomutsu (ah-boo-rah soh-koh-moo-tsoo) – This is Escolar (Oilfish) and sometimes called Shiro Maguro, although it is not tuna and should not be confused with that fish. Bright white in color and quite fatty, this fish is not always easy to find. Due to the high levels of fatty esters, this particular fish may cause digestive issues with some individuals, and for that reason has been prohibited in Japan since the 1970′s. If your body can tolerate it, the creamy texture and clean taste can be quite appealing.
Aburage – (ah-boo-rah-ah-geh)-Fried tofu pouches usually prepared by cooking in sweet cooking sake, shoyu, and dashi. Used in various dishes, in Miso Shiru and for Inari Zushi.
Aemono – (ah-eh-moh-noh) -Vegetables (sometimes meats) mixed with a dressing or sauce.
Agari – (ah-gah-ree) – A Japanese sushi-bar term for green tea.
Agemono – (ah-geh-moh-noh) – Fried foods — either deep-fat fried or pan-fried.
Ahi – (aaa-hee) – Yellowfin Tuna.
Aji – (ah-jee) – Horse mackerel, Jack Mackerel (less fishy tasting than Spanish mackerel). Purportedly this is not actually a mackerel, but member of the Jack family. It is small – about 6″ in length and they fillet it and serve marinated in vinegar.
Aji-no-moto – (ah-jee-no-moh-toh) – Monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Aka miso – (ah-ka-mee-soh) – Red soy bean paste.
Akagai – (ah-ka-gah-ee) – Pepitona clam, red in colour, not always available.
Akami – (ah-kah-me) – the leaner flesh of tuna from the sides of the fish. If you ask for ‘maguro’ at a restaurant you will get this cut.
Ama Ebi – (ah-mah-eh-bee) – Sweet Shrimp, Red Prawns. Always served raw on nigirizushi. Sometimes served with the deep-fried shells of the shrimp. Eat the shells like you would crayfish.
An – (ahn) – Sweetened puree of cooked red beans. Also called Anko, thought not to be confused with Monkfish, also called Anko, but contextually the difference will be apparent to Japanese speakers.
Anago – (ah-nah-goh) – Salt water eel (a type of conger eel) pre-cooked (boiled) and then grilled before serving, less rich than unagi (fresh water eel).
Ankimo – (ahn-kee-moh) – Monkfish liver, usually served cold after being steamed or poached in sake.
Anko – (ahn-koh)- Monkfish.
Aoyagi – (ah-oh-yah-gee) – Round clam. Also called Hen Clam.
Awabi – (ah-wah-bee) – abalone.
Ayu – (ah-yoo) – Sweetfish. A small member of the trout family indigenous to Japan, usually grilled.
Azuki – (ah-zoo-kee) – Small red beans used to make an. Azuki connotes uncooked form.
Beni shoga – (beh-nee shoh-gah)- Red pickled ginger. Used for Inari Zushi, Futomaki, and Chirashizushi, but not for Nigirizushi.
Bonito – (bo-nee-toh) – See Katsuo (kah-tsoo-oh).
Buri – (boo-ree) – Yellowtail. Hamachi refers to the young yellowtail and Buri are the older ones.
Buri Toro – (boo-ree toh-roh) – Fatty Yellowtail. The belly strip of the yellowtail. Incredibly rich with a nice buttery flavour.
Butaniku – (boo-ta-nee-koo) – Pork. Buta means pig.
California Roll – (maki) A California roll is an american style roll created in California for the American palate. It usually consists of kamaboko (imitation crab meat) and avocado, sometimes including cucumber.
Chikuwa – (chee-koo-wah) – Browned fish cake with a hole running through its length.
Chirashi-zushi – (chee-ra-shee-zoo-shee) – translates as “scattered sushi”, a bowl or box of sushi rice topped with a variety of sashimi.
Chutoro – (choo-toh-roh) – The belly area of the tuna along the side of the fish between the Akami and the Otoro. Often preferred because it is fatty but not as fatty as Otoro.
Daikon – (Dah-ee-kohn) – giant white radish, usually served grated as garnish for sashimi.
Dashi – (dah-shee) – Basic soup and cooking stock usually made from, or from a combination of Iriko (dried Anchovies), Konbu (type of Kelp) and Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). However any form of stock can be called “dashi”.
Donburi – (dohn-boo-ree) – A large bowl for noodle and rice dishes. Also refers specifically to a rice dish served in such a large bowl with with the main items placed on top of the rice, Examples include Tendon (Tenpura Donburi) and Unadon (Unagi Donburi).
Ebi – (eh-bee) – Shrimp. Not the same as Sweet Shrimp, as Ebi is cooked, while Ami Ebi is served in raw form.
Edamame – (eh-dah-mah-meh) – Young green soybeans served steamed and salted and usually still in the pod.
Fugu – (foo-goo) – Fugu is puffer fish which is a delicacy, though its innards and blood contain extremely poisonous tetrodotoxin. In Japan only licensed fugu chefs are allowed to prepare fugu or puffer fish.
Fuki – (foo-kee) – Fuki is a Japanese butterbur plant which contains a bitter substance called “fukinon” (a kind of ketone compound), but upon blanching fukinon is easily washed out from its petioles (edible parts) and is prepared for an excellent Japanese vegetable dish.
Futo-Maki – (foo-toh-mah-kee) – Big, oversized rolls.
Gari – (gah-ree) – Pickled ginger (the pink or off-white stuff) that comes along with Sushi.
Gobo – (goh-boh) – Long, slender burdock root.
Gohan – (goh-hahn) – Plain boiled rice.
Goma – (goh-mah) – Sesame seeds.
Gunkan-maki – (goon-kahn-mah-kee) – Battleship roll. This is where the maki is rolled to form a container for the liquid or soft neta. Used for oysters, uni, quail eggs, ikura, tobiko, etc.
Gyoza – (gi-yoh-zah) – A filled wanton dumpling that has been either fried or boiled.
Ha-Gatsuo – (ha gat-soo-oh) – Skipjack tuna. This meat is similar to bonito but is a lighter, pinker product.
Hamachi – (hah-mah-chee) – Young Yellowtail tuna, or amberjack, worth asking for if not on menu.
Hamaguri – (hah-mah-goo-ree) – Hard shell Clam. Includes American littlenecks and cherrystones.
Hamo – (hah-moh) – Pike Conger Eel. Indigenous to Japan.
Hanakatsuo – (hah-nah-kah-tsoo-oh) – Dried bonito fish, shaved or flaked. Usually sold in a bag. Also called Katsuobushi (bonito flakes).
Harusame – (hah-roo-sah-meh) – Thin, transparent bean gelatin noodles.
Hashi – (hah-shee) – Chopsticks. Also called O-Hashi.
Hatahata – (hah-tah-hah-tah) – Sandfish. Indigenous to Northern Japan.
Hijiki – (hee-jee-kee) – Black seaweed in tiny threads.
Hikari-mono – (hee-kah-ree-mo-no) – A comprehensive term for all the shiny fish. However usually refers to the shiny oily fish, such as Aji, Iwashi, Sanma, Kohada.
Himo – (hee-moh) – The fringe around the outer part of any clam.
Hirame – (hee-rah-meh) – Generally speaking this name is used for many types of flat fish, specifically fluke or summer flounder. The name for winter flounder is really “karei” (kah-ray), but often restaurants do not discriminate between fluke or summer flounder when one asks for hirame. Some restaurants call halibut “hirame,” however the actual Japanese word for halibut is “ohyo” (oh-yoh).
Hocho – (hoh-choh) – General Japanese term for cooking knives. Can be classified as Traditional Japanese style (Wa-bocho) or Western style (yo-bocho)
Hokkigai – (hohk-kee-gah-ee) – Surf Clam (also called Hokkyokugai). Sort of a thorn-shaped piece, with red coloring on one side.
Hotate-Gai – (hoh-tah-teh-gah-ee) – Scallops.
Ika – (ee-kah) – Squid. As sushi or sashimi the body is eaten raw and the tentacles are usually served parboiled then grilled or toasted.
Ikura – (ee-koo-rah) – salmon roe. (FYI, Ikura means ‘How much?’ in Japanese) The word Ikura is shared with the Russian word “Ikra” meaning salmon roe.
Inada – (ee-nah-dah) – Very young yellowtail.
Inari-Zushi – (ee-nah-ree-zoo-shee) – [see an image] – Aburage stuffed with sushi rice.
Kaibashira – (kah-ee-bah-shee-rah) – large scallops, actually giant clam adductor muscle, though often scallops are served, much like cooked scallops but more tender and sweeter. Kobashiri are small scallops and like kaibashira may or may not come from scallops or other bivalves.
Kajiki – (kah-jee-kee) – Billfish including Swordfish and Marlins. Swordfish specifically is called Me-Kajiki or Kajiki-Maguro.
Kaki – (kah-kee) – Oysters.
Kamaboko – (kah-mah-boh-ko) – Imitation crab meat (also called surimi) usually made from pollack. Generally used in California rolls and other maki, it’s not the same thing as “soft shell crab.”
Kampyo – (kahn-piyoh) – Dried gourd. Unprepared is a light tan color. Prepared it’s a translucent brown. It comes in long strips, shaped like fettuccine.
Kani – (kah-nee) – Crab meat. The real stuff. Always served cooked, much better if cooked fresh but usually cooked and then frozen.
Kanpachi – (kahn-pa-chi) – Greater Amberjack. This is similar to hamachi, but this is actually a different fish (and is not Yellowtail or the Japanese Amberjack).
Karasu Garei – (kah-rah-soo gah-ray) – Literally translated this means “cow flounder” and is the term for Atlantic halibut.
Karei – (kah-reh-ee) – Winter flounder.
Katsuo – (kah-tsoo-oh) – Bonito. It is usually found in sushi bars on the West Coast because it lives in the Pacific Ocean, and doesn’t freeze very well. Sometimes confused with Skipjack Tuna, which is incorrect as Skipjack Tuna is called “ha-gatsuo.”
Katsuobushi – (kah-tsoo-oh boo-shi) – Bonito flakes. Smoked and dried blocks of skipjack tuna (katsuo) that are shaved and uses usually to make dashi, or stock.
Kazunoko – (kah-zoo-noh-koh) – herring roe, usually served marinated in sake, broth, and soy sauce, sometimes served raw, kazunoko konbu.
Kohada – (koh-hah-dah) – Japanese shad (or young punctatus, it’s Latin species name). Kohada is the name when marinated and used as sushi neta. Prior to this the fish is called Konoshiro (ko-no-shee-roh).
Kuro goma – (koo-roh-goh-mah) – Black sesame seeds.
Maguro – (mah-goo-roh) – Tuna, which is sold as different cuts for the consumer, listed below in order of increasing fattiness:
Akami– (ah-kah-me) – the leaner flesh from the sides of the fish. If you ask for ‘maguro’ at a restaurant you will get this cut.
Chu toro (choo-toh-roh) – The belly area of the tuna along the side of the fish between the Akami and the Otoro. Often preferred because it is fatty but not as fatty as Otoro.
O toro (oh-toh-roh) – The fattiest portion of the tuna, found on the underside of the fish.
Toro (toh-roh) is the generic term for the fatty part of the tuna (either chutoro or otoro) versus the ‘akami’ portion of the cut.
Maki-zushi – (mah-kee-zoo-shee) – The rice and seaweed rolls with fish and/or vegetables. Most maki places the nori on the outside, but some, like the California and rainbow rolls, place the rice on the outside.
Makisu – (mah-kee-soo) – Mat made of bamboo strips to create make-zushi.
Masago – (mah-sah-goh) – capelin (smelt) roe, very similar to tobiko but slightly more orange in colour, not as common as tobiko in North America (though often caught here). Capelin, shishamo, is also served grilled (after being lightly salted) whole with the roe in it as an appetizer.
Matoudai – (mah-toh-dai) – John Dory.
Mirin – (mee-rin) – Sweet rice wine for cooking.
Mirugai – (mee-roo-ghai) – Geoduck or horseneck clam, slightly crunchy and sweet.
Miso – (mee-soh) – Soy bean paste.
Moyashi – (moh-yah-shee) – Bean sprouts.
Murasaki – (moo-rah-sah-kee) – meaning “purple” an old “sushi term” for Shoyu.
Namako – (nah-mah-koh) – Sea cucumber. This is much harder to find in North America than in Japan. As a variation, the pickled/cured entrails, konowata (koh-noh-wah-tah), can be found for the more adventurous diners. The liver, anago no kimo (ah-nah-goh noh kee-moh) is served standalone as well.
Nasu – (nah-soo) – Eggplant. Also called Nasubi.
Natto – (naht-toh) – Fermented soy beans. (Not just for breakfast anymore) Very strong smell and taste, also slimy. Most people don’t like it. Order it once, if for no other reason that to see the confused look of the chef.
Negi – (neh-gee) – Green Onion. Scallion. Round onion is called Tama-negi.
Neta – (neh-tah) – The piece of fish that is placed on top of the sushi rice for nigiri.
Nigiri-zushi – (nee-ghee-ree-zoo-shee) – The little fingers of rice topped with wasabi and a filet of raw or cooked fish or shellfish. Generally the most common form of sushi you will see outside of Japan.
Nori – (noh-ree) – Sheets of dried seaweed used in maki.
Ocha – (oh-chah) – Tea.
Odori ebi – (oh-doh-ree-eh-bee) – (‘Dancing shrimp’)- large prawns served still alive.
Ohyo – (oh-hyoh) – Pacific halibut, sometimes incorrectly labeled “dohyo.” Atlantic halibut is called Karasu Garei.
Ono – (oh-noh) Wahoo. As much fun to catch as to eat, ono (Hawaiian for ‘delicious’) has a very white flesh with a delicate consistency, similar to a white hamachi (yellowtail).
Oshi-zushi – (oh-shww-zoo-shee) – Sushi made from rice pressed in a box or mold.
Oshibako – (oh-shee-bah-koh) – Used for pressing the sushi to make Oshi-zushi.
Oshibori – (oh-shee-boh-ree) – The wet towel one cleans one’s hands with before the meal.
Oshinko – (oh-shin-ko) – A general term for the many and varied pickled vegetables that are not uncommon at the table in Japanese dining, and often found at sushi-ya. They include, but are not limited to pickled burdock root, daikon, cabbage carrots, and many others.
Otoro – (oh-toh-roh) – The fattiest portion of the tuna, found on the underside of the fish.
Ponzu – (pohn-zoo) – Sauce made with soy sauce, dashi and Japanese citron, such as Yuzu or Sudachi.
Ramen – (rah-mehn) – ‘Instant’ noodles, created by extrusion and often bought in packets for easy preparation. Chinese style noodles served in broth in a bowl. Traditional Japanese “fast food.” Instant ramen invented in the 1960s and now found worldwide. Today Cup-Ramen which is even easier to make is popular worldwide.
Roe – (Fish eggs) Generally, flying fish, smelt, and salmon roe are available in all sushi restaurants. “Roe” is a generic name. The roes are:
Saba – (sah-bah) – mackerel, almost always served after being salted and marinated for a period ranging from a couple of hours to a few days, so really cooked. In this form it is called Shime-Saba (shee-meh-sah-bah). Raw mackerel (nama-saba) is sometimes served but it must be extremely fresh as it goes off quickly.
Sake – (sah-keh) – Rice wine. Pronounced ‘sah-keh’ not “sah-key.” Served both hot and cold depending on the brand type. Some people love it, some people hate it.
Sake – (sah-keh) – Salmon. To avoid confusion, some people say Sha-ke.
Sansho – (sahn-shoh) – Japanese pepper. A must with most Unagi dishes.
Sashimi – (sah-shee-mee) – Raw fish fillets sans the sushi rice.
Sazae – (sah-zah-eh) – Type of conch, not found in the US.
Shari – (shah-ree) – Sushi Meshi (sushi rice). A sushi bar term.
Shiokara – (shee-oh-kah-rah) – A dish made of the pickled and salted internal organs of various aquatic creatures. It comes in many form such as ‘Ika no Shiokara’ (squid shiokara), shrimp, or fish.
Shirako – (shee-rah-koh) – The milt sac of the male codfish.
Shirataki – (shee-rah-tah-kee) – Translucent rubbery noodles.
Shiro goma – (shee-roh-goh-mah) – White sesame seeds.
Shiro maguro – (shee-roh mah-goo-roh) – (‘White Tuna’) Sometimes called ‘Bincho Maguro’ or ‘Bin-Naga Maguro.’ This is often either Escolar or white albacore tuna. It doesn’t handle as well and can change color (though doesn’t change in taste or quality) so it is not as common as other tunas. It will usually not be on the menu, and if available, must be asked for (or listed as a ‘special’). It is not unusual to find Escolar (oilfish) labeled as shiro maguro, however in quantity, this particular fish can have a laxative effect on some people. Recently, Black Marlin is also being served as ‘white tuna.’
Shiro miso – (shee-roh-mee-soh) – White soy bean paste.
Shiromi – (shee-roh-mee) – This is the general term for any white fish, and if one asks for shiromi the itamae will serve whatever white fish may be in season at the time.
Shiso – (shee-soh) – The leaf of the Perilla plant. Used frequently with in makizushi and with sashimi. The sushi term is actually Ooba (oh-bah).
Shitake – (shee-tah-keh) – A type of Japanese mushroom, usually available dried.
Shoga – (shoh-gah) – Ginger root. Usually grated.
Shoyu – (shoh-yoo) – Japanese soy sauce.
Shumai – (shoo-mai) (another type) is always steamed.
Soba – (soh-bah) – Buckwheat noodles.
Somen – (soh-mehn) – White, threadlike wheat noodles.
Spam – (yes, SPAM!) – a sushi you can get in Hawaii (maybe Japan too), an acquired taste, perhaps.
Su – (soo) – Rice vinegar.
Suimono – (soo-ee-moh-noh) – Clear soup.
Surimi – (soo-ree-mee) – Imitation crab meat (also called kamaboko (kah-mah-boh-koh)) usually made from pollack. Generally used in California rolls and other maki, it’s not the same thing as “soft shell crab.” Although “surimi” is used outside of Japan, most Japanese people use the term Kani-Kama, short for Kani-Kamaboko.
Sushi – (soo-shee)- Technically refers to the sweetened, seasoned rice. The fish is sashimi. Wrap the two together in portions and sell it as sushi, and the name still refers to the rice, not the fish. Sushi is the term for the special rice but it is modified, in Japanese, to zushi when coupled with modifiers that describe the different styles of this most popular dish. In Japan when one says “sushi” they are referring to the whole package, the sushi rice plus the neta. And this holds true for all kinds of sushi. When one wants to say “sushi rice” they say “sushi-meshi.” Also, in Japan when someone suggests going out for sushi, they are referring specifically to nigirizushi.
Suzuki – (soo-zoo-kee) – sea bass (of one species or another, often quite different).
Tai – (tah-ee) – porgy or red snapper (substitutes, though good), real, Japanese, tai is also sometimes available.
Tairagi – (tah-ee-rah-gah-ee) – The razor shell clam.
Tako – (tah-koh) – Octopus, cooked.
Tamago yaki – (tah-mah-goh-yah-kee) – egg omelet, sweet and, hopefully light, a good test of a new sushi restaurant, if its overcooked and chewy, go somewhere else. In Japan it is the trademark of each chef. Often potential customers in Japan will ask for a taste of the Tamago in order to judge the chef’s proficiency.
Tarabagani – (tah-rah-bah-gah-ni) – King Crab (the real thing, as opposed to kanikama, which is the fake crab leg made from surimi).
Tataki – (tah-tah-kee) – Tataki is a Japanese term which may mean seared on the outside only (as in Katsuo) or chopped up and served in its raw form (as in Aji).
Temaki-zushi – (the-mah-kee-zoo-shee) – Hand rolled cones of sushi rice, fish and vegetables wrapped in seaweed. Very similar to maki.
Tempura – (tem-poo-rah) – Seafood or vegetables dipped in batter and deep fried.
Tobiko – (toh-bee-koh) – flying-fish roe, red and crunchy, often served as part of maki-zushi but also as nigiri-zushi commonly with quail egg yolk (uzura no tamago) on top uncooked.
Tofu – (toh-foo) – Soybean curd.
Tori – (toh-ree) – Chicken.
Torigai – (toh-ree-gah-ee) – Japanese cockle, black and white shell fish, better fresh but usually frozen (and chewier as a result).
Toro – (toh-roh) – Fatty Tuna. There are several different types of tuna you can order in a sushi restaurant. It comes in many different grades which are from best to, well, not worst, o-toro, chu-toro, toro, and akami (which has no fat content).
Udon – (oo-dohn) – Wide noodles made from wheat.
Unagi – (oo-nah-gee) – Eel (Freshwater) – grilled, and brushed with a teriyaki-like sauce, richer than salt water eel.
Uni – (oo-nee) – Sea Urchin. If you are lucky you won’t like it, if not you have just developed an expensive habit. The most expensive (start saving now) is red in color, the least is yellow, luckily they taste the same. Lobsters eat sea urchin as a mainstay of their diet.
Usukuchi shoyu – (oo-soo-koo-chee-shoh-yoo) – Light Japanese soy sauce.
Wakame – (wah-kah-meh) – Dried lobe-leaf seaweed in long, dark green strands.
Wasabi – (wah-sah-bee) – Japanese ‘Horseradish.’ This is the small lump of green stuff that looks sort of like clay. Best done in extremely small doses. The actual rhizome is not related to American Horseradish except by name, but unfortunately, the ‘wasabi’ most often served is not real wasabi, but powdered and reconstituted American Horseradish with food coloring. Real wasabi is difficult to find in most restaurants, but is sometimes available upon request (and worth it, even with a surcharge, in my opinion). It is quite different in appearance (slightly more vegetal in color and obviously a ground up lump of rhizome, not powder) as well as taste. Real wasabi has a hotness that does not linger, and compliments and enhances the flavor of sushi rather well.
Yakumi – (yah-koo-mee) – A generic term for condiments.
What is sushi?
Beginning as a method of preserving fish centuries ago, sushi has evolved into an artful, unique dining experience. In its earliest form, dried fish was placed between two pieces of vinegared rice as a way of making it last. The nori (seaweed) was added later as a way to keep one’s fingers from getting sticky.
Technically, the word sushi refers to the rice (the Japanese word su means vinegar, and shi is from meshi, the Japanese word for rice, hence sushi is ‘vinegared rice’), but colloquially, the term is used to describe a finger-size piece of raw fish or shellfish on a bed of rice or simply the consumption of raw fish in the Japanese style (while sushi is not solely a Japanese invention, these days, the Japanese style is considered the de facto serving standard). This can be eaten as is, or is often dipped into shoyu(Japanese soy sauce) and then eaten. Great care is taken in the creation of the dish and the many methods of preparing the food indicate the importance of appearance to the educated consumer. Sushi is a work of art as much as a food, and while it is now available in a western ‘quick and easy’ serving style, the traditional ways are far from lost.
What are the different kinds of sushi?
Sushi comes in many forms, depending on how the item is presented. Some sushi can be eaten with the hands, and some with the chopsticks, and each style of sushi has its own unique shape and composition. The sushi chef (itamae) may plate your sushi in a more formal and straight forward manner, while at other times, an item such as sashimi may be arranged in a beautiful floral pattern, for example. An entire platter of sushi may be a garden of food at your fingertips. While the presentation of a meal may be part of the sushi experience, there are certain standard types of sushi, and they are:
Chirashi Sushi (chirashi-zushi)
|Chirashi sushi is a bowl or box of sushi rice topped with a variety of sashimi. This is often a nice selection as you can choose to eat your fish as sushi or sashimi, and it is often artfully presented. Nothing says “Wow!” like a beautiful bowl of carefully presented seafood.|
Inari Sushi (inari-zushi)
|Inari sushi is aburage (fried pouches of tofu) stuffed with sushi rice. Sometimes the aburage is soaked in mirin (sweet sake) and sometimes not, but either way, you have a nice pocket of ingredients that is easy to eat.|
Maki Sushi (maki-zushi or norimaki)
|Maki sushi (sometimes called norimaki) is when the rice and fish and/or vegetables are rolled up in a seaweed wrapper (nori). The roll is usually cut into six or eight pieces, depending on the thickness of the roll, and some itamae even place the items so carefully, that a picture results on the face of each piece.|
There are also more specific terms for the rolls depending on the style. They are:
|Futomaki – thick rolls, often due to a lot of ingredients.|
|Hosomaki – thin rolls, usually very simple rolls.|
|Uramaki – inside-out rolls, which is a newer style and non-traditional.|
|Shikai Maki – an elegant and very artistic style of maki sushi that is usually made to show off the skills of the itamae as it often includes complex layering of ingredients. This type of roll is becoming more common in the West.|
Nigiri Sushi (nigiri-zushi)
|Nigiri sushi is what one calls the little fingers of rice topped with wasabi and a filet of raw or cooked fish or shellfish. It is generally the most common form of sushi you will see.|
Temaki Sushi (temaki-zushi)
|Temaki sushi is also called a hand-roll. This is a cone of sushi rice, fish and vegetables wrapped in seaweed. It is very similar to maki.|
The fish in sushi can also come in a few different forms and styles, apart from the plain piece of fish. You might see:
- Neta or Tane- the name for the piece of fish (or other item) placed on a piece of nigiri sushi.
- Hikari mono – a piece of fish with the silvery skin left on.
- Sukimi – A chopped up piece of fish sometimes used in maki (rolls) or served as sashimi.
What is sashimi?
Sashimi is raw fish served sliced, but as-is. That means no rice bed or roll, but it is often served alongside daikon and/or shiso. This is my favorite style as you really get the flavor of the fish. Plus, it’s a great way to impress sushi newbies!
Sashimi is often cut in different ways to enhance the appearance of the fish. Hira zukuri is the standard rectangular shape cut. A thinner cut is called Ito zukuri, and is often no more than 1/16 inch thick. The thinnest, called Kaku zukuri is paper-thin and is often presented in a pattern.
What are those other things I see on my plate?
Depending on what you ordered and the whim of the chef, you might see items such as wasabi (the hot green Japanese horseradish-like rhizome), gari (pickled ginger, which comes in both a pink and a light tan color, with the lighter stuff usually indicating better quality). You may also see a large green leaf called shiso, which is often served with sashimi, and a shredded white mass of Japanese radish called daikon, which is also often served with sashimi.
Where can I find sushi grade seafood online?
[about to post new link] has the best sushi grade seafood available, in my opinion. Check them out for almost everything you could ever want.
What do all these words mean? (i.e. terminology)
Since the list is rather extensive (and by no means complete), I have devoted an entire page to sushi terminology which also includes a pronunciation guide.
How to use chopsticks
(from Sushi Seattle)
Think of the chopstick as a pair of prongs, the only difference being that there are two separate parts or sticks. One stick is held in stationary position and the other is moved.
1. Take one stick first and hold it in your right hand in the way you would normally hold a pencil. If the stick has a thick and a thin end, hold it so that the thick end is to the top.
2. Keeping the fingers in this position, turn your hand inward until the stick is horizontal to the table and parallel to your body.
3. Relax your fingers slightly and slide the stick to the left until your thumb and forefinger are clamping the stick at about its mid-point. The thumb should not be bent or rigidly straight. All your fingers should be curved slightly inwards with the middle finger in contact with the underside of the stick and the tip of the middle finger pointing towards your body. The third (ring) finger should be in line with the middle finger but its tip should protrude beyond the middle finger towards your body.
4. Now, take the other stick with your left hand and let the thick end rest on the protruding part of the ring finger of your right hand. Slide the stick towards the right, touching the tip of the middle finger and passing under the thumb until the thick end rests at the base joint of your forefinger. This is the stationary position of this stick, and it should be roughly parallel to the first stick.
5. Alternately bend and extend your forefinger and middle finger, letting the first stick PIVOT at the thumb. The thin tip of the moving stick will touch that of the stationary stick when you bend the two fingers. Don’t hold the sticks rigidly. Hardly any pressure or strength is needed to grasp things at the tip of the chopsticks.