Seattle sushi pioneer hosts tasting, memoir signing

Renowned Seattle Sushi Chef Shiro Kashiba used to walk to the city's fishing piers in the 1960s to retrieve buckets of unwanted salmon roe and pesky Puget Sound octopus from the fishermen. He'd hike the beaches of the Pacific Northwest to gather geoduck before there was a market for the shellfish. Chef Shiro saw treasure where others saw trash. And through this sushi chef's eyes, readers can discover the amazing bounty of the Pacific Northwest.

Kashiba captured his memories of Seattle's early sushi days in his recently released memoir, Shiro: Wit, Wisdom and Recepies from a Shusi Poineer.

In this revealing cookbook/memoir, Shiro recounts his early days apprenticing in Tokyo, where he worked grueling hours without pay, washed dishes and slept in the backroom of a prestigious Ginza sushi shop. He tells of his decision to come to the United States with little more than an introductory letter, and of his ultimate success in Seattle and reputation across America.

While Shiro settles into his role as Seattle's premier sushi chef, he develops a deep appreciation for the local delicacies of his new home. Soon he begins to replace expensive Japanese imports with fresher and more delicious local delicacies. Goodbye bluefin, hello albacore. Shiro tells fascinating and often humorous stories about the region's offerings: his first encounters with geoduck (some say he was the first to serve it raw), the world's tastiest sea urchin, hunting for matsutake mushrooms in the Cascades, a twelve-course meal of silvery ocean smelt, and much more.

Kashiba will host a reading and tasting Jan. 7 at Elliott Bay Books in Capitol Hill. The event is free.