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Sushi

Currently Sushi which is one of “Washoku(Japanese food) is gaining worldwide popularity as a healthy food of low fat and low calorie in particular.

Hello everyone, how are you? Today’s topic is “Sushi” which is my favorite dish although I’m a vegetarian, not a vegan, but a pescatarian in a way. Anyway, let’s give it a talk about global delicacy of Sushi.

What’s sushi ?

Sushi is traditionally made with medium-grain white rice, though it can be prepared with brown rice or short-grain rice. It is very often prepared with seafood, such as squid, eel, yellowtail, salmon, tuna or imitation crab meat.

sushi
Sushi

Many types of sushi are vegetarian. It is often served with pickled ginger (gari), wasabi, and soy sauce. Daikon radish or pickled daikon (takuan) are popular garnishes for the dish.

Sushi is sometimes confused with “Sashimi“, a related dish in Japanese cuisine that consists of thinly sliced raw fish, or occasionally meat, and an optional serving of rice.


Sashimi

For people in Japan, rice and fish are two of the primary pillars of the diet. Served as sushi, they have long been a favourite delicacy.

Biting into the rice and its seafood topping, the flavours and textures blend and melt together to produce a delectable depth of flavour.

This type of sushi is called nigiri-zushi. Each portion consisits of a bite-sized serving of vinegared rice and a topping.

Regarding the type of Sushi, I’ll explain it in details later.

In the sushi world, the toppings are called neta. Usually, the neta is some kind of seafood.

Many kinds of fish are served, both red and white, shrimp and squid, all kinds of shelfish. There are a tremendous variety of toppings.

What history Sushi has been?

Sushi originates in a Southeast Asian dish, known today as “narezushi“(salted fish), stored in fermented rice for possibly months at a time. The lacto-fermentation of the rice prevented the fish from spoiling; the rice would be discarded before consumption of the fish. Narezushi still exists as a regional specialty, notably as “funa-zushi” from Shiga Prefecture.


Narezushi, the specialty from Shiga Prefecture/Province

This early type of sushi became an important source of protein for its Japanese consumers. The term sushi comes from an antiquated grammatical form no longer used in other contexts, and literally means “sour-tasting”; the overall dish has a sour and “umami“(savoury taste/deliciousness).

It was not until the Edo period (1603–1868) that fresh fish was served over vinegared rice and nori (which is an edible seaweed with thin flat fronds of a reddish-purple and green colour that becomes black when dry).

The particular style of today’s nigirizushi became popular in Edo (contemporary Tokyo) in the 1820s or 1830s.

One common story of nigirizushi‘s origins is of the chef Hanaya Yohei (1799–1858), who invented or perfected the technique in 1824 at his shop in Ryōgoku.

The dish was originally termed Edomae zushi as it used freshly caught fish from the Edo-mae (Edo or Tokyo Bay); the term Edomae Nigirizushi is still used today as a by-word for quality sushi, regardless of its ingredients’ origins.

Nigirizushi

How is Sushi prepared?

In the jargon of the sushi shop, the rice base for the sushi is known as the shari. The chef blends vinegar into steaming-hot, freshly cooked rice, using a paddle. It takes skill to mix the vinegar into the rice without crushing the individual grains.

Next the rice must be fanned to blow away the excess moisture as it cools down. The sugars in the vinegar form a coating around each grain of rice. This stops them from becoming sticky and seals in the flavour.

This is the technique for preparing sushi, while the neta is held in the left hand, the shari rice is formed with the right hand. A dab of wasabi (horseradish) is smeared on the the underside of the neta. In a matter of seconds, the sushi is ready.

In ancient times, sushi was a means of preserving food through a fermentation process. Originally, only the fish was eaten. The rice was just for packing around it.

It was in the early years of the 19th century that sushi developed into the form that we recognize today.

By this time, people in the city were startting to enjoy greater affluence, and there was growing demand for greater variety in their diet.

New kinds of food were developed to march the informal style of eating at food stalls. This was how nigiri-zushi came into being.

Over time, what began as a method for preserving fish developed into Japan’s most famous food that today is eaten around the world.

What’s “Kaiten-sushi”?

Kaiten-zushi, literally “rotation sushi”, “conveyor belt sushi or “sushi-go-round” is a form of sushi restaurant common in Japan. It is also known as “sushi train”.

Kaiten-zushi is a sushi restaurant where the plates with the sushi are placed on a rotating conveyor belt or moat that winds through the restaurant and moves past every table, counter and seat.

Customers may place special orders, but most simply pick their selections from a steady stream of fresh sushi moving along the conveyor belt.

The final bill is based on the number and type of plates of the consumed sushi. Some restaurants use a fancier presentation such as miniature wooden “sushi boats” traveling small canals or miniature locomotive cars.

The most remarkable feature of conveyor belt sushi is the stream of plates winding through the restaurant. The selection is usually not limited to sushi; it may also include drinks, fruits, desserts, soups, and other foods.

What Types of Sushi are there?

The common ingredient in all types of sushi is vinegared sushi rice. Fillings, toppings, condiments, and preparation vary widely.


Chirashizushi(scattered sushi), serves the rice in a bowl and tops it with a variety of raw fish and vegetable garnishes. It is commonly eaten because it is filling, fast and easy to make.It is eaten annually on Hinamatsuri(Girl’s Festival) in March.


Inarizushi, is a pouch of fried tofu typically filled with sushi rice alone.
Tales tell that inarizushi is named after the Shinto god Inari. Foxes, messengers of Inari, are believed to have a fondness for fried tofu, and an Inari-zushi roll has pointed corners that resemble fox ears

Makizushi (rolled sushi), norimaki (Nori roll) or makimono (variety of rolls) is a cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat known as a (makisu). Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori (seaweed), but is occasionally wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber, or shiso (perilla) leaves.

Makizushi is usually cut into six or eight pieces, which constitutes a single roll order. Below are some common types of makizushi, but many other kinds exist.


Futomaki (thick, large or fat rolls) is a large cylindrical piece, usually with nori on the outside. A typical futomaki is five to six centimetres (2 to 2 1⁄2 in) in diameter.

They are often made with two, three, or more fillings that are chosen for their complementary tastes and colors. During the evening of the Setsubun festival, it is traditional in the Kansai region to eat uncut futomaki in its cylindrical form, where it is called ehō-maki (lit. happy direction rolls).

By 2000 the custom had spread to all of Japan. Futomaki are often vegetarian, and may utilize strips of cucumber, kampyō gourd, takenoko bamboo shoots, or lotus root. Strips of tamagoyaki omelette, tiny fish roe, chopped tuna, and oboro (food) whitefish flakes are typical non-vegetarian fillings.

Traditionally, the rice is lightly seasoned with salt and sesame oil/perilla oil. Popular protein ingredients are fish cakes, imitation crab meat, eggs, or seasoned beef rib-eye. Vegetables usually include cucumbers, spinach, carrot and takuan (pickled radish). After the makizushi has been rolled and sliced, it is typically served with takuan.


Hosomaki (thin rolls) is a small cylindrical piece, with nori on the outside. A typical hosomaki has a diameter of about 2.5 centimetres (1 in). They generally contain only one filling, often tuna, cucumber, kanpyō, thinly sliced carrots, or, more recently, avocado.


Kappamaki, (a kind of Hosomaki filled with cucumber, is named after the Japanese legendary water imp fond of cucumbers called the kappa. Traditionally, kappamaki is consumed to clear the palate between eating raw fish and other kinds of food, so that the flavors of the fish are distinct from the tastes of other foods.


Tekkamaki is a kind of hosomaki filled with raw tuna. Although it is believed that the word tekka, meaning “red hot iron”, alludes to the color of the tuna flesh or salmon flesh, it actually originated as a quick snack to eat in gambling dens called tekkaba, much like the sandwich.


Negitoromaki is a kind of hosomaki filled with scallion (negi) and chopped tuna (toro). Fatty tuna is often used in this style.


Tsunamayomaki is a kind of hosomaki filled with canned tuna tossed with mayonnaise.


Temaki (hand roll) is a large cone-shaped piece of nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about 10 centimetres (4 in) long, and is eaten with fingers because it is too awkward to pick it up with chopsticks.

For optimal taste and texture, temaki must be eaten quickly after being made because the nori cone soon absorbs moisture from the filling and loses its crispness, making it somewhat difficult to bite through.

For this reason, the nori in pre-made or take-out temaki is sealed in plastic film which is removed immediately before eating.

Narezushi (matured sushi) is a traditional form of fermented sushi. Skinned and gutted fish are stuffed with salt, placed in a wooden barrel, doused with salt again, then weighed down with a heavy tsukemonoishi (pickling stone). As days pass, water seeps out and is removed. After six months, this sushi can be eaten, remaining edible for another six months or more.


funa-zushi (narezushi made from a crucian carp species)

The most famous variety of narezushi are the ones offered as a specialty dish of Shiga Prefecture, particularly the funa-zushi made from fish of the crucian carp genus, the authentic version of which calls for the use nigorobuna, a particular locally differentiated variety of wild goldfish endemic to Lake Biwa.

Nigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi) consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that the chef presses between the palms of the hands to form an oval-shaped ball, and a topping (the neta) draped over the ball. It is usually served with a bit of wasabi; neta are typically fish such as salmon, tuna or other seafood.

Certain toppings are typically bound to the rice with a thin strip of nori, most commonly octopus (tako), freshwater eel (unagi), sea eel (anago), squid (ika), and sweet egg (tamago). One order of a given type of fish typically results in two pieces, while a sushi set (sampler dish) may contain only one piece of each topping.

Gunkanmaki (warship roll) is a special type of nigirizushi: an oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice that has a strip of nori wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel that is filled with some soft, loose or fine-chopped ingredient that requires the confinement of nori such as roe, nattō, oysters, uni (sea urchin roe), corn with mayonnaise, scallops, and quail eggs.

Gunkan-maki was invented at the Ginza Kyubey restaurant in 1941; its invention significantly expanded the repertoire of soft toppings used in sushi.


Oshizushi (pressed sushi), also known as hako-zushi (box sushi), is a pressed sushi from the Kansai region, a favorite and specialty of Osaka.

Western-style sushi

The increasing popularity of sushi around the world has resulted in variations typically found in the Western world, but rarely in Japan. A notable exception to this is the use of salmon, which was introduced by a Norwegian businessman tasked with helping the Norwegian salmon industry in the 1980s.

Such creations to suit the Western palate were initially fueled by the invention of the California roll (a norimaki with crab (later, imitation crab), cucumber, and avocado). A wide variety of popular rolls (norimaki and uramaki) has evolved since.


Norway roll. A Norwegian businessman introduced the use of salmon as a sushi ingredient to Japan in the 1980s.

Norway roll is another variant of uramakizushi filled with tamago (omelette), imitation crab and cucumber, rolled with shiso leaf and nori, topped with slices of Norwegian salmon, garnished with lemon and mayonnaise.


Uramaki (inside-out roll) is a medium-sized cylindrical piece with two or more fillings, and was developed as a result of the creation of the California roll, as a method originally meant to hide the nori.

Uramaki differs from other makimono because the rice is on the outside and the nori inside. The filling is in the center surrounded by nori, then a layer of rice, and optionally an outer coating of some other ingredients such as roe or toasted sesame seeds. It can be made with different fillings, such as tuna, crab meat, avocado, mayonnaise, cucumber or carrots.

American-style makizushi


American shrimp tempura and spicy salmon rolls

Futomaki is a more popular variation of sushi within the United States, and comes in variations that take their names from their places of origin. Other rolls may include a variety of ingredients, including chopped scallops, spicy tuna, beef or chicken teriyaki roll, okra, and assorted vegetables such as cucumber and avocado, and the tempura roll, where shrimp tempura is inside the roll or the entire roll is battered and fried tempura-style.

In the Southern United States, many sushi restaurants prepare rolls using crawfish. Sometimes, rolls are made with brown rice or black rice, which appear in Japanese cuisine as well.

Per Food and Drug Administration regulations, raw fish served in the United States must be frozen prior to serving in order to kill parasites. Because of this and the relative difficulty of acquiring fresh seafood compared to Japan, raw seafood (e.g., sashimi) is not as prevalent a component in American-style sushi.

What’s nutrition?

The main ingredients of traditional Japanese sushi, raw fish and rice, are naturally low in fat, high in protein, carbohydrates (the rice only), vitamins, and minerals, as are gari and nori. Other vegetables wrapped within the sushi also offer various vitamins and minerals.

Many of the seafood ingredients also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish has certain beneficial property, especially on cardiovascular health, natural anti-inflammatory compounds, and play a role in brain function.

Generally sushi is not a particularly fattening food. However, rice in sushi contains a fair amount of carbohydrates, plus the addition of other ingredients such as mayonnaise added into sushi rolls might increase the caloric content. Sushi also has a relatively high sodium content, especially contributed from shoyu soy sauce seasoning.

Shall we go and enjoy Sushi tonight, which do you prefer Sushi shop or Kaiten-zushi?

Finally, we have a similar blog “104 languages available in Asakusa ROX Sushi shop open on Jan22, 2020” being well worth to visit, thanks

About the author

立 資樺騎(Shigeki Ryu)