The world-famous Sushi, a Japanese dish, traces its history from the paddy fields of China. This staple dish of Japan quickly took over the hearts of millions in the last decade. It went from ‘what is sushi’ to the doorbell ringing with your sushi order within 30 minutes in any corner of the world. Before technology spread its wings, sushi was seen in cartoons and documentaries and was listened to in the news for the longest time. It looked like rice balls with fillings and black band toppings.
Surprisingly sushi did not originate from a combination of tastes but from the idea of preservation in the 2nd century BC when other means of preservatives did not exist. Earlier known as narezushi, the dish involved preserving raw fish with a lot of salt and vinegar in fermented rice, which kept the fish edible for quite some time. However, what stunned us as we scrolled through the history was that the rice was discarded while eating, and only the fish was consumed.
Later in the 16th Century, as civilization took a roll, the dish spread from China to Japan, and the Japanese-who are hands-down fond of rice, started to experiment with it. With time, they began to eat three meals a day in place of two and consumed rice on lower vinegar levels instead of discarding it.
Sushi has its own version of the ‘ascent of the man.’ Over several centuries, sushi developed with situations, requirements, and eventually, the taste. Soon in the 17th century, the Edo residents, now known as the town of Tokyo, seasoned the sushi coated rice with rice vinegar, otherwise known as the Mizkan Rice Vinegar. This helped them make the sushi ready-to-eat immediately, unlike the previous times where it needed to be stored and preserved for months before one could gulp it down the throat.
Later, as two centuries passed, Hanaya Yohei, a Japanese man, evolved the dish to another level with his means of production, as well as presentation. As the new structure, the idea of wrapping the fish in the rice ball was scratched away, leaving the round vinegar sprinkled rice balls to be slightly flattened into a rectangular shape, placing a thin piece of freshly caught fish on the top. This version of the sushi is called the Nigiri Sushi and is what we consume today. This way of presentation made sushi widely adaptable to eat and consume in smaller and palatable bites. Other names that belong to this are Finger sushi, or if hailed back to the EDO time, the Edomae Sushi.
Learning and moving ahead with time, Japan has one of its first street & finger food stalls, which Hanaya Yohei operated on the streets. Amidst the busy life, a stomach filling and the on-the-go dish had a sudden escalation of popularity. The popularity only increased further when a severe earthquake struck the town of Tokyo in 1923, causing many people to lose their homes and businesses, and introducing a staple food, confident profit-deriving business was comparatively a great decision.
However, just a decade later, World War Two again affected the lives of the people, and the stalls were eventually forcefully shut. The idea of quick bites still flourished from within the homes of the residents rather than street stalls. With fewer resources, the fast-food proposition matured into a wholesome dining experience. Western cultures utilised their curious nature to act as a catalyst in spreading the word about sushi to the rest of the world. The seafood craze grew by bounds, and experimentations and new & unique things were welcomed with open arms.
Sushi: In The World Of Today
The evolution of this great dish has never taken a pause. It’s spread in every corner of the world, giving a chance to everyone to introduce their version and serve the world with their unique tastes and talents. Sushi is the real example of the global village, the one that binds people from around the globe, inculcating the essence of their traditions, tastes, and cultures. The journey of sushi is not going to end soon, thanks to the ever-lasting spirit and new experimentation ideas from the chefs and the people. So far, we have been introduced to California sushi rolls recently, and this ride is going to be more fun along the way.
Did You Know? – Sushi Facts!
1. Sushi Originated In The Paddy Rice Fields Of China
No, it wasn’t Japan. Japan, known as the sushi capital of the world, definitely had a big-big hand in introducing the modular version of sushi to the world. Sushi was originally curated in China in the 2nd century.
2. Wasabi Served In Restaurants Is Actually Horseradish And Mustard Powder
Wasabi is extremely expensive because it is a rare plant with a limited crop area. What is presented on the dinner tables is not what you actually believed it to be. Food colouring is used to make it look real. However, only a few restaurants offer it on demand and adjoin additional pricing to waive off their expenses associated with it.
3. The Rice Ball Was Discarded While Consuming When The Dish Was Originated
Yes, you heard it right. The rice ball was used to cover the raw fish to ferment it and protect it from microorganisms and bacterias in the long run. Sushi, back then, took a few months to be labelled as edible, and therefore vinegar and salt sprinkled rice was used as a preservative.
The rice was experimented on as the dish evolved, whilst the fish was placed on the top instead of being stuffed within the ball.
4. Sushi Is Only The Rice
Many restaurants only offer rice when they are placed with an order of sushi. They mainly feel that they have been played & tricked with. However, that is actually not the case. The fish is the topping, and the filling is an option. So do not miss to impress your group with a little extra knowledge at the dine-in.
5. You Can Opt-Out Of Seaweed
Yep. People allergic to seaweed or the ones who can not settle with its taste can replace it with multiple other options like egg, finely sliced cucumber, avocado, and/or soy paper. Next time, you can customise your own sushi with these options to develop taste as per likeliness.
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