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The word "Sushi" comes from the Japanese word "Su" (酢) meaning vinegar, and "Meshi" (飯), meaning rice.
Sushi is made with specially prepared rice, called sumeshi (酢飯). The rice is mixed with vinegar, salt, and sugar. Sushi is known for having raw or cooked seafood in it, but it sometimes has non-fish foods such as vegetables. Some sushi is wrapped in a sheet of seaweed called nori (海苔).
Sushi is traditionally eaten by hand, but it is not wrong to eat it using chopsticks. Gari (Japanese pickled ginger slices) must be eaten with chopsticks.
There are many different kinds of sushi. The most common sushi in Japan is nigirizushi (握り寿司): fish meat that is placed on top of a small portion of sumeshi. Sometimes you may find other ingredients on top of the sumeshi, such as roe (fish eggs), and sea urchin meat, instead of fish. Another type of sushi, makizushi (巻き寿司), consists of sumeshi rolled around fish and/or vegetables. In the US, makizushi is more popular than nigirizushi. Another type is known as temaki (手巻き) or a hand roll. This kind of sushi comes in a cone-shape, created by the nori wrapped around the ingredients inside. They are usually filled with a mixture of sumeshi, fish, and vegetables.
Sushi is eaten with your bare hands or chopsticks. Soy sauce and wasabi are commonly eaten with sushi. Gari (sweet, pickled ginger) can often be found alongside a plate of sushi and also a little bit of wasabi, used as a palate cleanser.
In Japan, sushi is sometimes sold in "conveyor-belt shops" called kaiten zushi (回転寿司), where plates of sushi are put on a moving belt that passes by the customers. People freely take the sushi they want as it passes. The color of the plate shows the price of the sushi. This way of serving sushi is becoming more popular in other countries as well.
Sushi began when rice farming came to Japan over 2,000 years ago. The original type of sushi was developed in the Nara Prefecture as a way of preserving fish in fermented rice. During the Muromachi period, people would eat the rice and the fish. During the Edo period, vinegar, not fermented rice, was used. In more recent times, it has become a fast food associated with Japanese culture.
The origin of sushi goes back to Southeast Asia around the 4th century B.C.. At that time, it was called narezushi. The fish was originally eaten alone, without rice. Later on, a style of namaranarezushi reached Japan. Namaranerezushi combined the fish with rice.
What is called sushi in modern times was created by Hanaya Yohei (1799–1858) at the End of the Edo period. Sushi invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented. It was prepared quickly. It could be eaten with one's hands. This fish was originally known as Edomae zushi because it used freshly caught fish in Edo-Bay or Tokyo Bay. The fish used in modern sushi no longer usually comes from Tokyo Bay.
Sushi is traditionally eaten by hand, but it is not wrong to eat it with chopsticks. However, when eating Gari, you must use chopsticks.
When you want to put some soy sauce on your sushi, try not to put it on the rice, because the grains will start to fall, and make a mess.
Try to fit the entire sushi into your mouth when eating. Taking a bite and putting it back on the plate is impolite.
As with most foods, eating sushi has some health risks. However, most can be minimized with proper preparation. Some large fish, such as tuna (especially bluefin), can contain high levels of mercury. Tuna can cause mercury poisoning when consumed in very large quantities over time. Parasite infection by raw fish is not common in the modern world (less than 40 cases per year in the US). Infections can generally be avoided by boiling, burning, preserving in salt or vinegar, or freezing to a certain temperature. Although nigirizushi will almost always appear in a raw form, often much of the fish has been previously frozen to specific temperatures to prevent parasites.
The types and ingredients of the sushi
There are many different types of sushi. There are also many ingredients to put in the sushi.
Types of sushi
- Nigirizushi (握り寿司) is a type of sushi, with the ingredient placed on top of sumeshi. It is sometimes wrapped in a thin rectangular piece of nori.
- Makizushi (巻き寿司) is nori wrapped around sumeshi and the ingredient.
- Futomaki (太巻き) is makizushi but it is bigger; It has more sumeshi and ingredients, and it has a bigger piece of nori wrapped around it.
- Gunkanmaki (軍艦巻き), meaning "Warship Roll", is a type of makizushi, but it has sumeshi wrapped in a big piece of nori (usually bigger than the Sumeshi), with the ingredient placed on top of it. It usually has ingredients that are easy to collapse, such as ikura or sea urchin. It was named this because the sushi looks like a warship.
- Oshizushi (押し寿司) is sushi with the sumeshi and ingredients strongly pressed together, in a box.
- Temarizushi (手毬寿司) are balls of sumeshi with the ingredient topped on top of it. It is sometimes wrapped in a plastic wrap. It was called this because it resembles old Japanese ball toys, called temari.
- Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司) is a box or bowl of sumeshi with different ingredients on top of it.
- Inarizushi (稲荷寿司) is sumeshi stuffed inside of sweetly boiled abura-age. It ususally does not have ingredients other than abura-age and sumeshi.
- Narizushi (なりずし) is a type of fermented sushi, with fish stuffed with salt is placed in a barrel, and doused (pour over) with salt, and then weighed down with a heavy stone. Then it is left for 6 months, and finally it can be eaten.
Sushi in other countries
- Gimbap (Hangul: 김밥) is a South Korean sushi similar to makizushi, and it is a popular take-out food. It is wrapped in Gim, which is nori flavored with sesame oil and salt.
- Uramaki (裏巻) is a type of sushi similar to makizushi. Uramaki has ingredients wrapped in nori, then sumeshi wrapped around the nori. Small ingredients like sesame and roe (fish eggs) are usually sprinkled on the rice. "Ura" in Japanese can mean "Inside-out".
Ingredients of sushi
Although sushi generally contains the ingredients below, virtually anything can be used in sushi, even chocolate or chicken.
There are many types of fish and other meat used in sushi, such as:
Other meat, such as roe (fish eggs), is also used in sushi.
Like the meat, there are many types of vegetables used in sushi, such as:
- Many sushi stores give the option to put wasabi in the sushi. Sushi with wasabi in it is called sabi-iri (サビ入り), and without wasabi is called sabi-nashi (サビなし).
Popular sushi chain stores in Japan
- Kappa Zushi (かっぱ寿司)
- Sushirō (スシロー)
- Kurazushi (くら寿司)
- Hamazushi (はま寿司)
- Choushimaru (銚子丸)
- "The Great Sushi Craze of 1905". Eccentric Culinary History. http://eccentricculinary.com/the-great-sushi-craze-of-1905-part-1. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
- Laurissa Smith (22 April 2014). "Sushi boom increases rice markets for Riverina growers". ABC. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-22/sushi-rice-demand-2104/5402050.