Commonly enjoyed at sushi bars and restaurants, it is also very easy to make at home, the main ingredients involving nori and sushi rice, combined with fillings such as salmon, raw or cooked meat or vegetarian items like avocado and cucumber.
Sushi simply means ‘vinegar rice’ and is an ancient food deriving from the Tang dynasty comprising rice and fermented fish. Today, there are three main types of sushi; Maki Sushi, Nigiri Sushi and Oshi-Sushi.
Maki Sushi are known as sushi rolls, where layers of raw or cooked fish, meat or vegetables are vinegared to rice and rolled up into a cylinder on a sheet of dried seaweed (nori) and cut into pieces. Nigiri Sushi, comprises a slice of raw or cooked fish or shellfish, which is placed on top of a mound of vinegared rice with a little wasabi in between. Oshi-Sushi originates from Osaka, and simply means ‘pressed sushi’ or often called ‘box sushi’. This stems from the ancient method of
preserving fish by packing it tightly in boxes with fermented rice.
Think you know your sushi? Here are 10 fun facts you might not know.
1. Originally, the Japanese believed eating raw salmon was dangerous as Pacific salmon was prone to parasites. As Norway had such a huge supply of salmon, they helped to teach the Japanese that Atlantic salmon was actually safe to eat raw. After ten years of education, salmon sushi/sashimi become a popular item in Japanese cuisine.
2. Sushi was originally a preservation method for the fish. It wasn’t until later on that people began eating the rice.
3. Wasabi was first eaten with sushi as a method to kill bacteria and parasites in fish, however with better sanitary and preparation conditions, this is no longer needed. Today, wasabi is still eaten with sushi out of pure habit.
4. Most sushi is served with pickled ginger (gari) as a means to cleanse your palate between different pieces of sushi and enhance the flavour. However, you may offend the chef by using the pickled ginger as a topping.
5. In the United States, there are approximately 3,946 sushi restaurants compared to 45,000 in Japan
6. Ditch the chopsticks. Sushi is meant to be eaten by hand. The nori originally was added as a way to keep people’s fingers from getting sticky when eating sushi.
7. Cucumber rolls are called kappamaki in Japan and made from nori, sushi rice and cucumber. This dish gets its name after the Japanese mythical called Kappa, which lives in ponds and enjoys cucumber.
8. Ikizukuri is a form of sushi where the fish is scaled, filleted, and served alive.
9. Ninety-three-year-old Jiro Ono is considered to be the world’s best sushi chef, with 65 years’ experience as a qualified sushi chef. Customers are known to make reservations at his Tokyo restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, up to a year in advance. He also holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s oldest Three-Michelin star chef and his rice is described as a cloud that explodes in your mouth.
10. Sushi can be expensive. The most expensive price ever paid for a sushi-grade bluefin tuna was $1.8 million for a 222-kilogram fish in Japan.