Sushi is a visually appealing, culturally addictive, and artistic form of food – but there’s a lot more to sushi than just raw fish.
10 Interesting Facts About Sushi
#1 Sushi started out as cheap food that was sold on the street.
There was a time when sushi was not considered a delicacy to be enjoyed at fine dining restaurants.
Customers did not need a credit card to enjoy a lavish sushi spread.
It started as cheap food sold at street-side stalls to provide quick lunch to people who did not have time to sit down and eat.
#2 An Earthquake in 1923 Changed Sushi Forever
The tragedy and devastation brought about by The Great Kantō earthquake in Japan in 1923 had far-reaching effects and caused the land prices to decline significantly.
It offered an opportunity for the sushi vendors to take their stalls indoors and this led to brick-and-mortar sushi-ya.
By the 1950s, sushi was mostly served indoors at restaurants.
#3 Hanaya Yohei Created Sushi
Hanaya Yohei is credited as the inventor or introducer of sushi in Japan close to the mid-1800s, during the end of the Edo period.
He used tuna fish caught from the Tokyo Bay and slightly cooked or marinated the fish in soy sauce or vinegar to prevent spoilage.
He served slices of fish on vinegared rice balls, which is believed by many to be the cradle of today’s modern sushi.
#4 Los Angeles Was the 1st American City
Los Angeles became the first US city to introduce sushi to American food culture.
The credit goes to a man named Noritoshi Kanai and his business partner who opened a sushi restaurant in Little Tokyo in 1966.
It is believed to be the first known place to offer traditional nigiri sushi to America.
#5 Restaurant Wasabi Is Really Hordradish Died Green
Most, if not all restaurants will have a green paste known as ‘wasabi’ at the side. However, they don’t serve the real thing that comes from the rhizome of wasabia japonica plant.
Instead, it is substituted with horseradish, cornstarch, mustard flour, and green coloring.
Most people have never tasted real wasabi, but the substitute which tastes almost similar. Authentic wasabi is very expensive and often served in high-end sushi restaurants for an extra price.
#6 Real Wasabi Was Used to Kill Parasites
Real Wasabi is spicy!
The heat of real wasabi comes from the antimicrobial chemicals present in the plant, and it was used in sushi to kill any parasites and microbes in raw fish.
With advances in technology, fish and seafood are now flash-frozen, ruling out the fear of parasites. However, wasabi paste is still served with sushi as a tradition.
#7 Sushi Doesn’t Mean Raw Fish
While most people envision raw fish when they hear sushi, there is much more to this Japanese delicacy.
There are various types that contain fried, smoked, or cooked fish and seafood.
Vegetarians can also enjoy a plethora of veggie options that include cucumber, spinach, carrots, avocado, and so on.
#8 You Can Eat With Your Hands.
Many people shy away from going to a sushi restaurant because they don’t know how to use chopsticks.
The fact is you can use your hands for eating without feeling ashamed because that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Chopsticks are typically used for eating sashimi as it contains thin slices of raw fish.
#9 It takes 10 Years of Training To Become a Master
The reason why sushi masters are so highly revered is that they train for years, often over ten years to achieve the status of a ‘master’.
The initial training years are spent in learning how to hold a sushi knife correctly. They know the art to create the perfect balance of form, texture, and flavours.
#10 The Six Types
One of the more interesting facts about sushi is that there are mainly six different types of sushi that are namely:
- Chirashizushi or scattered sushi.
- Inarizushi or sushi served in deep-fried tofu pouches.
- Maki or sushi rolls.
- Nigiri, fish over rice.
- Oshi or boxed sushi.
- Nare, the original form of sushi.
#10 Five Most Popular Sushi Rolls
1. Tiger Roll
Tiger rolls are rice, crab, and cucumber rolls topped with shrimp tempura and avocado. The sushi chef rolls the rice and crabmeat with a sour-spicy sauce in seaweed sheets and then tops the rolls with shrimp tempura and avocado. Some chefs replace the crabmeat in the roll with additional shrimp. The name comes from the type of shrimp used: the tiger prawn.
2. California Roll
One of the most popular types of sushi on any sushi bar menu, California rolls are made “inside out,” with the rice wrapped on the outside of the seaweed surround the filling of shrimp or crab meat, cucumber, and avocado. Some Japanese restaurants offer a vegetarian version of a California Roll without the seafood.
3. Spicy Tuna Roll
Another popular choice at the sushi bar, a spicy tuna roll typically only has three ingredients: fresh tuna, nori seaweed, and sushi rice. Some chefs mix sesame seeds into the rice for extra flavor and add avocado or cucumber to the roll. The tuna and rice are rolled up in the seaweed, and then cut into six pieces for eating. These pieces are then topped with a spicy sauce made with ichimi togarashi, a dried red chili pepper.
4. Yellowtail Roll
A yellowtail roll features yellowtail sashimi wrapped in seaweed with rice, cucumber, and scallion. The finished roll is then topped with additional pieces of yellowtail sashimi, and some chefs add a spicy sauce as well. Although some people think that yellowtail is a type of tuna, it’s actually a species of amberjack that features a yellow stripe on its body.
5. Rainbow Roll
If you can’t decide what type of fish you want, a rainbow roll gives you plenty of options. Another inside-out roll, the rainbow roll typically features crab and cucumber wrapped in seaweed and sushi rice, topped with avocado and 5 kinds of fish: tuna, salmon, yellowtail, whitefish, and red snapper.
Bonus Sushi Etiquette
There are certain Sushi etiquettes that one should follow.
- Never ask the sushi if the fish is fresh.
- Don’t play with your chopsticks.
- Never slather on the soy sauce.
- Don’t talk to the Chef.
- Never mix soy sauce with Wasabi.
- Dip only the fish not the rice in soy sauce.
- Use the wet towel.
While no one will throw you out of a restaurant for not following the sushi etiquettes, you will enhance your dining experience and those of others by complying with them.