Facts about sushi
Sushi is one of the most recognizable dishes worldwide, as well as one of the healthiest. The richness of nutrients is equal to the richness of taste. Once typical street food in Japan, it has been served in restaurants around the world for many years, with its popularity continuously growing.
1The term sushi refers to rice soaked in rice vinegar.
It means sour rice in Japanese. In order to be called sushi, the dish does not have to include fish or seafood.
2It originates from Southeast Asia, most likely a rice-growing region along the Mekong River.
Despite common belief, it did not come from Japan
3In its early stages, it was not a dish, but a way of preserving food.
Inland Asians discovered that cooked rice would ferment and become sour, which would prolong the freshness of fish without the necessity of cooling it down. The fermented rice would be thrown out before the consumption of the fish.
4The first type of sushi was nare-zushi.
It was a combination of fermented rice with preserved fish, which was partially fermented and partially raw. It is believed it was the Japanese who invented nare-zushi, making them the first who started combining ingredients into a complete dish.
5Narezushi is served nowadays in certain Japanese Prefectures and is characterized by a very distinguished aroma.
It is not a popular dish, however, since the smell is very intense.
6The popularity of sushi in Japan may have been associated with Buddhism.
Buddhism was imported in the 6th century AD, and quickly became one of the major religions. One of the rules of Buddhism was to restrain from eating meat, and fish was not counted as such.
7Modern sushi became popular in the 1820s.
By adding rice vinegar, the fermentation process shortened, and people started combining fresh fish with vinegared rice.
8It was a Japanese chef, Hanaya Yohei, who popularized hand-pressed vinegared rice rolls.
He served his invention at his shop in Ryōgoku around 1824.
9Until 1923, sushi was primarily served as street food.
After the 1923 earthquake that struck Japan, owning a restaurant became more accessible due to a rapid drop in property prices, and such estates gained popularity.
10Sushi is often served with wasabi.
It is a Japanese horseradish, spicy in flavor. It is a pricy plant thanks to the limitations in its cultivation, thus most of the wasabi served in restaurants is a mixture of western horseradish and mustard powder.
11Although seaweed (Jap. nori) is the most popular sushi wrapper, it has equivalents for those not fond of its taste.
It has a distinguished taste, so it is commonly replaced with egg, rice paper, or sliced cucumber.
12According to renowned Japanese chef Hiroko Shimbo, sushi comes in six types.
- Chirazizushi (scattered);
- Inarizushi (pouch of fried tofu, and no fish in the filling);
- Makizushi (rolled);
- Narezushi (fermented, eaten without rice);
- Nigirizushi (hand-pressed);
- Oshizushi (squared, triangle, or oblong).
13Restaurants worldwide typically offer six forms of sushi.
- Nigiri–molded vinegared rice, topped with a raw slice of fish;
- Sashimi (meaning pierced or cut)–sliced raw fish, meat, or seafood;
- Chirashi (meaning scattered)–sashimi with various ingredients, served over vinegared rice;
- Maki–bite-sized rolls of rice wrapped in nori, with fish, meat, or vegetable filling;
- Temaki–filling of vinegared rice with vegetables and meat, fish, or seafood, wrapped in cone-shaped nori;
- Uramaki–a variation of nigiri, with the rice outside, and the filling wrapped in nori inside the sushi roll.
14Sushi is among the healthiest foods.
It is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, iodine, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.
15Because of the number of vitamins and minerals, sushi possesses great health benefits.
It is recommended for people struggling with mental problems, such as mood swings and depression. It boosts brain activity and can prevent osteoporosis.
However, eating sushi with increased frequency may cause overexposure to mercury and lead to heart problems.
16Becoming a sushi master may take up to 20 years.
It requires apprenticeship, patience, and commitment. Before a person becomes a sushi master, called itamae, he needs to pass the in-between stage of wakiita, during which his duties include the preparation of fresh ingredients, eventually leading to allow him to prepare sushi for take-away orders.
17International Sushi Day is celebrated on June 18th worldwide.
Sushi has been gaining popularity around the world since the 1960s and nowadays is one of the most favored dishes.
18Sushi is traditionally eaten with hands.
Most people in Japan do not use chopsticks to eat sushi, but outside Japan eating sushi with hands is not that common.
19Sushi was once so valued, it was used to pay taxes.