Japanese Food

Sushi-a world common language for favorite food Menu

Traditional Japanese food evolves into a trendy universal dish

Needless to say, sushi is the most significant dish that represents Japanese cuisine. Its popularity has spread so widely that the word sushi is recognized anywhere in the world today. Using untraditional ingredients such as avocado, cheese, or fried shrimp, international versions of sushi continue to evolve in a unique way to reflect local characteristics. Sushi has become a universal food that can be commonly enjoyed at sushi bars and restaurants outside Japan.

From traditional sushi restaurant to convenience store lunchbox

Many foreign tourists come to Japan with an expectation of trying an authentic sushi. Sushi is available in various styles and price ranges. At traditional sushi restaurants, sushi chefs directly take orders from customers at the bar and prepare food in front of them. Kaitenzushi is a more casual and reasonable version of the sushi restaurant where prepared sushi pieces are placed on small plates and are delivered on a conveyer belt through tables. Some sushi shops only sell packaged sushi to take home for reasonable prices.

History of sushi

Is sushi a preservative food?

In Southeast Asia during the fourth century B.C., fish was fermented in a mixture of rice and salt for preservation purpose. It is believed that rice used for the mixture was not eaten and was discarded after use. This preservation method for fish was eventually introduced to Japan and became a dish called narezushi during the Heian period. Sometime during the Muromachi period, however, people began to save and eat rice of the mixture along with the fermented fish. During the Edo period, a quicker method was invented and was called hayazushi, which used vinegar instead of fermentation to make rice taste sour.

Birth of Edomae-zushi

Nigirizushi (hand-shaped sushi) was first created in Edo during the late Edo period (early 19th century). Therefore, many Japanese people today think that Edomae-zushi refers to nigiri-style sushi invented in Edo, in comparison to Osaka-zushi, which refers to hakozushi (or oshizushi, box-pressed sushi). However, there was another meaning for its name that all seafood used for Edomae-zushi were freshly caught in the ocean in front (mae) of Edo.

Shimasoroi Onna Benkei Ataka-no Matsu
Utagawa Kuniyoshi
1844 (Tenpo 15)
Tokyo Metropolitan Library Special Library ※All rights reserved

Sushi and sashimi—are they the same thing?

Some foreigners may be confused between sushi and sashimi and may think that they are a similar dish that uses raw fish. However, sushi is a different dish from sashimi in that it is always made with sumeshi, or vinegared rice. Sumeshi is actually an origin of the word sushi, and the sound of me gradually began to be omitted to become sushi. While there are many variations of sushi, including nigirizushi (a piece of seafood is placed on a bite-sized ball of vinegared rice), chirashizushi (a bowl of vinegared rice topped with a variety of seafood), and makizushi (seafood and vinegared rice roll wrapped with a sheet of nori seaweed), sushi always refers a combination of seafood and vinegared rice.

Ten most popular sushi neta varieties

  • Chutoro
    (medium-fatty tuna)
  • Salmon
  • Negitoro
  • Ikura (salmon roe)
  • Uni(sea urchin)
  • Otoro
    (very-fatty tuna)
  • Anago (conger)
  • Amaebi
    (pink shrimp)
  • Maguro (tuna)
  • Ika (squid)

Sushi variations

  • Kaisen chirashi
  • Oinarisan
  • Oshizushi
  • Norimaki
  • California roll

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