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To mark the arrival of star-spangled new sushi offerings in its stores in time for Independence Day, Wegmans Food Markets will throw a Sushi Firecracker Launch Party on Friday June 29, from noon to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-7 p.m., and on Saturday, June 30, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. In honor of the event, most of the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer’s locations will feature sushi sections festooned with red, white, and blue balloons.
During the party, customers can sample the new Firecracker Shrimp Roll, a combination of crispy fried tempura shrimp tossed in “firecracker” sauce, with blanched asparagus, roasted red pepper and Wegmans’ signature koshihikari rice all rolled up in a pineapple-habanero wrap. The can also watch the rolls being assembled, rolled and cut by sushi chefs; learn about the best use of condiments; get free firecracker temporary tattoos for kids; score $1 -off coupons good for sushi or sashimi combinations; taste teas and beers that pair well with sushi; and, at select stores, sign up, for a $20 one-hour, hands-on “Sushi 101” class.
“Many people think sushi means rice and raw fish,” explained Wegmans executive chef John Emerson, who heads the chain’s sushi program. “Sushi actually just means ‘vinegared rice.’ All other ingredients besides the seasoned rice are optional, so our chefs have been creating new combinations with flavors and ingredients people in this country especially love, including varieties with a little extra spice and without raw seafood, like the new Firecracker Shrimp Roll.”
Additionally, new Sushi Rice Bowls will be available: Spicy Shrimp Bowl, featuring koshihikari rice topped with spicy shrimp and crispy onions; Tuna Bowl, with koshihikari rice topped with sashimi tuna and spicy tuna mix, avocado and tomagoyaki (sweet Japanese omelet); and Chirashi Bowl,consisting of koshihikari rice topped with sashimi tuna, salmon, tilapia, crabstick, shrimp, avocado, and tomagoyaki.
After a trip Emerson and his team took to Japan two years ago to learn more about sushi, Wegmans sought new suppliers for the delicacy’s two most basic ingredients: short-grain rice and seasoned vinegar. Marukan, a 350-year-old Japanese firm, created a custom blend of its seasoned vinegar for the grocer, while Tamaki Rice Corp., a Williams, Calif.-based grocer supplies Wegmans with freshly milled Tamaki Gold short-grain rice on a monthly basis. The company also beefed up equipment, tools and staff education.
“I’ve loved exploring one of the world’s great culinary traditions more deeply and working with a team that’s so enthusiastic about taking sushi in new directions,” added Emerson. “We continue to launch new varieties and options for people that traditionally might not eat sushi.”
Family-owned Wegmans operates 80 stores in New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia.