Sushi History

The traditional form of sushi is fermented fish and rice, preserved with salt in a process that has been traced to Southeast Asia, where it remains popular today[citation needed]. The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts; literally, "sushi" means "it's sour", a reflection of its historic fermented roots. The science behind the fermentation of fish packed in rice is that the vinegar produced from fermenting rice breaks the fish down into amino acids.
This results in one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese. The oldest form of sushi in Japan, Narezushi still very closely resembles this process. In Japan, Narezushi evolved into Oshizushi and ultimately Edomae nigirizushi, which is what the world today knows as "sushi." Contemporary Japanese sushi has little resemblance to the traditional lacto-fermented rice dish. Originally, when the fermented fish was taken out of the rice, only the fish was consumed and the fermented rice was discarded. The strong-tasting and -smelling funazushi, a kind of narezushi made near Lake Biwa in Japan, resembles the traditional fermented dish. Beginning in the Muromachi period (AD 1336–1573) of Japan, vinegar was added to the mixture for better taste and preservation. The vinegar accentuated the rice's sourness, and was known to increase its life span, allowing the fermentation process to be shortened and eventually abandoned. In the following centuries, sushi in Osaka evolved into oshi-zushi. The seafood and rice were pressed using wooden (usually bamboo) molds. By the mid 18th century, this form of sushi had reached Edo (contemporary Tokyo). The contemporary version, internationally known as "sushi," was invented by Hanaya Yohei (華屋与兵衛; 1799–1858) at the end of Edo period in Edo. The sushi invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented (therefore prepared quickly) and could be eaten with one's hands roadside or in a theatre. Originally, this sushi was known as Edomae zushi, because it used freshly caught fish in the Edo-mae (Edo Bay or Tokyo Bay). Though the fish used in modern sushi no longer usually comes from Tokyo Bay, it is still formally known as Edomae nigirizushi.

Types of sushi

The common ingredient across all the different kinds of sushi is sushi rice. The variety in sushi arises from the different fillings and toppings, condiments, and the way these ingredients are put together. The same ingredients may be assembled in a traditional or a contemporary way, creating a very different final result.[5] In spelling sushi its first letter s is replaced with z when a prefix is attached, as in nigirizushi, due to consonant mutation called rendaku in Japanese.
Nigirizushi Nigirizushi (握り寿司, lit. hand-formed sushi) consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that is pressed between the palms of the hands, usually with a bit of wasabi, and a topping draped over it. Toppings 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 tako (octopus), unagi (freshwater eel), anago (sea eel), ika (squid), and tamago (sweet egg). When ordered separately, nigiri is generally served in pairs. A sushi set may contain only one piece of each topping. Gunkanmaki (軍艦巻, lit. 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, natto, oysters, sea urchin, corn with mayonnaise, and quail eggs.Gunkan-maki was invented at the Ginza Kyubey restaurant in 1931;[6][7] its invention significantly expanded the repertoire of soft toppings used in sushi. Temarizushi (手まり寿司, lit. ball sushi) is a ball-shaped sushi made by pressing rice and fish into a ball-shaped form by hand using a plastic wrap. They are quite easy to make and thus a good starting point for beginners.[8] [edit] Makizushi or Makimono Rolling maki Makizushi and Inarizushi in a Japanese supermarket. Sasazushi, a type of oshizushi Inari-zushi Makizushi (巻寿司, lit. rolled sushi) or makimono (巻物, lit. variety of rolls) is cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat, called a makisu (巻簾). Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori, but can occasionally be found wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber, or parsley. 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 (太巻, lit. thick, large or fat rolls) is a large cylindrical piece, with nori on the outside. A typical futomaki is three or four centimeters (1.5 in) in diameter. They are often made with two or three fillings that are chosen for their complementary tastes and colors. During the Setsubun festival, it is traditional in Kansai to eat uncut futomaki in its cylindrical form, where it is particularly called ehou-maki (恵方巻, lit. happy direction rolls). Futomaki is often vegetarian, but may include non-vegetarian toppings such as tiny fish roe and chopped tuna. Hosomaki (細巻, lit. thin rolls) is a small cylindrical piece, with the nori on the outside. A typical hosomaki has a diameter of about two centimeters (0.75 in). They generally contain only one filling, often tuna, cucumber, kanpyō, thinly sliced carrots, or, more recently, avocado. Kappamaki, (河童巻) 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 (鉄火巻) is a kind of Hosomaki filled with raw tuna. Although some[who?] believe that the name "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 (鉄火場)", much like the sandwich.[9][10] Negitoromaki (ねぎとろ巻) is a kind of Hosomaki filled with scallion and chopped tuna. Fatty tuna is often used in this style. Tsunamayomaki (ツナマヨ巻) is a kind of Hosomaki filled with canned tuna tossed with mayonnaise. Temaki (手巻, lit. hand rolls) is a large cone-shaped piece of nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about ten centimeters (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 and becomes somewhat difficult to bite. Uramaki (裏巻, lit. inside-out rolls) is a medium-sized cylindrical piece, with two or more fillings. 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 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, carrots. Uramaki has not been so popular in Japan and most of makimono is not uramaki because it is easy to hold makimono with nori skin by fingers. However, since some Western people dislike the black impression of makimono with nori skin, uramaki has become more popular in Western countries than nori-skined makimono[11]. [edit] Oshizushi Oshizushi (押し寿司, lit. pressed sushi), is a pressed sushi from the Kansai Region, a favourite and specialty of Osaka. A block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold, called an oshibako. The chef lines the bottom of the oshibako with the toppings, covers them with sushi rice, and then presses the lid of the mold down to create a compact, rectilinear block. The block is removed from the mold and then cut into bite-sized pieces. [edit] Inarizushi Search Wikibooks Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on Inarizushi Inari-zushi (稲荷寿司, stuffed sushi) is a pouch of fried tofu filled with usually just sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, who is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. The pouch is normally fashioned as deep-fried tofu (油揚げ, abura age). Regional variations include pouches made of a thin omelette (帛紗寿司, fukusa-zushi or 茶巾寿司, chakin-zushi). It should not be confused with inari maki, which is a roll filled with flavored fried tofu. A very large version, sweeter than normal and often containing bits of carrot, is popular in Hawaii, where it is called "cone sushi." [edit] Sukeroku Sukeroku (助六, name of a man in Edo period) is the combination set of inarizushi and makizushi, which is served as a single-portion takeout style sushi-pack. In a famous Kabuki play Sukeroku, a good looks man Sukeroku is the lover of an Oiran courtesan named Agemaki (揚巻, lit. fry for age and roll for maki). Age and maki which form her name correspond to fried tofu namely inari and makimono, respectively. One rumour of sukeroku-zushi is that takeout style packs of inarizushi and makizushi had served at performances of Sukeroku kabuki in Edo period. Sukeroku is a cheap sushi-pack and often vegetarian. [edit] Chirashizushi Nama-chirashi, or chirashizushi with raw ingredients Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司, lit. scattered sushi) is a bowl of sushi rice with other ingredients mixed in (also refers to barazushi). It is commonly eaten in Japan because it is filling, fast and easy to make. Chirashizushi most often varies regionally because it is eaten annually as a part of the Doll Festival, celebrated only during March in Japan. The ingredients are often chef's choice. Edomae chirashizushi (Edo-style scattered sushi) is an uncooked ingredient that is arranged artfully on top of the sushi rice in a bowl. Gomokuzushi (Kansai-style sushi) are cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed in the body of rice in a bowl. [edit] Narezushi Narezushi (熟れ寿司, lit. 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 funazushi can be eaten, remaining edible for another six months or more. [edit] Western sushi Western sushi The increasing popularity of sushi in North America as well as around the world has resulted in variations of sushi typically found in the West but rarely if at all in Japan. Such creations to suit the Western palate[11] were initially fueled by the invention of the California roll. A wide variety of popular rolls has evolved since. Some examples include: * California roll consists of avocado, kani kama (imitation crab stick), and cucumber, often made uramaki (with rice on the outside, nori on the inside) * Caterpillar roll generally includes avocado, unagi, kani kama, and cucumber. * Dynamite roll includes yellowtail (hamachi), and fillings such as bean sprouts, carrots, chili and spicy mayonnaise (In some parts of Canada, especially western Canada, a dynamite roll consists of a tempura-fried shrimp, masago (capelin roe), avocado and cucumber.) * Rainbow roll is typically a California roll topped with several various sashimi. * Spider roll includes fried soft shell crab and other fillings such as cucumber, avocado, daikon sprouts or lettuce, roe, and spicy mayonnaise. * Philadelphia roll almost always consists of smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, and/or onion. * Salmon skin roll has grilled salmon skin with sweet sauce and cucumber. * Crunchy roll a California roll deep fried tempura-style, often topped with sweet eel sauce or chili sauce. * Seattle roll consists of cucumber, avocado, and raw or smoked salmon. * B.C. Roll contains salmon skin, roe, cucumber, sweet sauce. * Louisiana Roll contains blue crab and/or crawfish, spicy mayonnaise, creole seasoning or hot sauce, and sometimes green onion and cucumber. Other rolls may include scallops, spicy tuna, beef or chicken or teriyaki roll, okra, and vegetables.Sushi rolls can also be made with brown rice and black rice. These have also appeared in Japanese cuisine. In Hawaii, there is a predominant style of maki sushi that includes shoyu tuna (canned not fresh), tamago, kanpyō, kamaboko, and the distinctive red and green hana ebi (shrimp powder).

Ingredients

Sushi rice
Sushi is made with white, short-grained, Japanese rice mixed with a dressing made of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and occasionally kombu and sake. It has to be cooled to room temperature before being used for a filling in a sushi or else it will get too sticky while being seasoned. Traditionally, the mixing is done with a hangiri, which is a round, flat-bottom wooden tub or barrel, and a wooden paddle (shamoji). Sushi rice (sushi-meshi or su-meshi 酢飯) is prepared with short-grain Japanese rice, which has a consistency that differs from long-grain strains such as those from India, Thailand, and Vietnam. The essential quality is its stickiness or glutinousness. Rice that is too sticky has a mushy texture; if not sticky enough, it feels dry. Freshly harvested rice (shinmai) typically contains too much water, and requires extra time to drain the rice cooker after washing. In some fusion cuisine restaurants, short grain brown rice and wild rice are also used. There are regional variations in sushi rice and, of course, individual chefs have their individual methods. Most of the variations are in the rice vinegar dressing: the Kanto region (or East Japan) version of the dressing commonly uses more salt; in Kansai region (or West Japan), the dressing has more sugar.
Nori A sheet of nori. The black seaweed wrappers used in makimono are called nori. Nori is a type of algae, traditionally cultivated in the harbors of Japan. Originally, algae was scraped from dock pilings, rolled out into thin, edible sheets, and dried in the sun, in a process similar to making rice paper. Whereas in Japan, nori may never be toasted before being used in food, many brands found in the U.S. reach drying temperatures above 108 °F (42 °C)
Today, the commercial product is farmed, processed, toasted, packaged, and sold in standard-size sheets about 18 by 21 centimetres (7.1 by 8.3 in). Higher quality nori is thick, smooth, shiny, green, and has no holes. When stored for several months, nori sheets can change color to dark green-brownish. The standard size of a whole nori sheet mentioned above influences the size of maki-mono. A full size sheet produces futomaki, and a half produces hosomaki and temaki. To produce gunkan and some other makimono, an appropriately sized piece of nori is cut from a whole sheet. Nori by itself is an edible snack and is available with salt or flavored with teriyaki sauce. The flavored variety, however, tends to be of lesser quality and is not suitable for sushi. When making fukusazushi, a paper-thin omelette may replace a sheet of nori as the wrapping. The omelette is traditionally made on a rectangular omelette pan (makiyakinabe), and used to form the pouch for the rice and fillings.

Toppings and fillings

For culinary, sanitary, and aesthetic reasons, fish eaten raw must be fresher and of higher quality than fish which is cooked. The FDA recommends that fish to be eaten raw is frozen before being consumed, as this will kill all parasites (but not all harmful microorganisms).[12] Professional sushi chefs are trained to recognize important attributes, including smell, color, firmness, and freedom from parasites that may go undetected in commercial inspection. Commonly-used fish are tuna (maguro, shiro-maguro),
Japanese amberjack, yellowtail (hamachi), snapper (kurodai), mackerel (saba), and salmon (sake). The most valued sushi ingredient is toro, the fatty cut of the fish. This comes in a variety of ōtoro (often from the bluefin species of tuna) and chūtoro, meaning middle toro, implying that it is halfway into the fattiness between toro and the regular cut. Aburi style refers to nigiri sushi where the fish is partially grilled (topside) and partially raw. Most nigiri sushi will be completely raw. Other seafoods such as squid (ika), eel (anago and unagi), pike conger (hamo), octopus (tako), shrimp (ebi and amaebi), clam (mirugai, aoyagi and akagi), fish roe (ikura, masago, kazunoko and tobiko), sea urchin (uni), crab (kani), and various kinds of shellfish (abalone, prawn, scallop) are the most popular seafoods in sushi. Oysters, however, are less common, as the taste is not thought to go well with the rice. Kani kama, or imitation crab stick, is commonly substituted for real crab, most notably in California rolls. Ebifurai-Maki (エビフライ巻き). Fried-Shrimp Roll. Pickled daikon radish (takuan) in shinko maki, pickled vegetables (tsukemono), fermented soybeans (nattō) in nattō maki, avocado, cucumber in kappa maki, asparagus, yam, pickled ume (umeboshi), gourd (kanpyō), burdock (gobo), and sweet corn may be mixed with mayonnaise. Tofu and eggs (in the form of slightly sweet, layered omelette called tamagoyaki and raw quail eggs ride as a gunkan-maki topping) are common.

Condiments

Sushi is commonly eaten with condiments. Sushi may be dipped in Shōyu, soy sauce, and may be flavored with Wasabi, a piquant paste made from the grated root of the Wasabi japonica plant.
True wasabi has anti-microbial properties and may reduce the risk of food poisoning.[13] The traditional grating tool for wasabi is a sharkskin grater or samegawa oroshi. An imitation wasabi (seiyo-wasabi), made from horseradish and mustard powder and dyed green is common. It is found at lower-end kaiten zushi restaurants, in bento box sushi and at most restaurants outside of Japan. If manufactured in Japan, it may be labelled "Japanese Horseradish".[14] Gari, sweet, pickled ginger is eaten with sushi to both cleanse the palate and aid in digestion. In Japan, green tea (ocha) is invariably served together with sushi. Better sushi restaurants often use a distinctive premium tea known as mecha. In sushi vocabulary, green tea is known as agari.

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