Mansaf sushi: Chef offers twist for International Sushi Day

mansaf sushi
(Photo: Handout from Aysar Fuqaha)
AMMAN — Friday, June 18, marks the International Sushi Day, and one TikTok-famous chef, Aysar Fuqaha, has created a unique Levantine twist on the Japanese staple with his mansaf sushi and maqluba rolls.اضافة اعلان

“I like to create and innovate new ways to enjoy food with high quality and respect for every region,” Fuqaha told Jordan News in a written interview.

The chef filmed a 26-second TikTok video blending two of the most traditional dishes from the Japanese and Jordanian cuisines to create mansaf sushi. Fuqaha caught the attention of over 240,000 viewers for this video alone. 

Fuqaha is a 44-year old Palestinian chef based in the US, who has previously worked as an executive chef in Ramallah and Jerusalem. He now has over 26 years of experience in international cuisine.

International Sushi Day is celebrated on June 18 of every year with the goal of encouraging global citizens to try the most iconic Japanese dish, sushi.

“Fresh and delicious sushi requires a very high quality of ingredients (and) high skills,” said the chef.

Fuqaha further explained that sushi allows cooks to “be creative.” Sushi gives way not only to several unique bite-sized shapes, including rolled, handball, or pressed to name a few, but also to different ingredients.  

Since raw fish and crab, which are usually key ingredients in sushi, might not seem appetizing for an Arab audience, Aysar got creative. He brought Japanese techniques to his kitchen, but opted for Middle Eastern ingredients.

Shrak bread for seaweed, lamb meat for fish, Jameed for soy sauce, crushed almonds for sesame and black seeds, and short-grain Japanese rice exchanged for its Egyptian counterpart, are all rolled over a bamboo mat and offered with chopsticks, providing the best of both worlds.   

The chef followed his mansaf sushi invention with a second 23-second video, challenging himself with another culinary crossover: “Maqluba Rolls.” Maqluba is one of the most popular dishes in Jordan and Palestine; it is typically made up of flavored rice, chicken, and fried vegetables — mainly eggplant — which are usually served with salad.

Adopting what is known as “Food Fusion” cookery, Fuqaha seeks to make “people more open to try new ways to eat the same food,” he said.

“There are so many different dishes in other countries that we never try if we don’t travel,” said the chef. However, he pointed out that people can strive for other opportunities to try “different food or different ways and presentations to eat your own traditional food” as it would help them “understand other cultures from different regions.”

Fuqaha suggested that mansaf and other classic Arab cuisines could be served as sushi-like small bites, which would provide customers with an easy and convenient way to try the dishes, compared to their more elaborate traditional presentations.

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