Sushi is pretty ubiquitous:
from nigiri, with its slice of raw fish on a rice pillow, to the maki roll wrapped in nori, or seaweed. But the sushi we understand these days tastes and looks very specific from how it did centuries in the past.
First of all, the rice within the unique “sushi” became not meant to be eaten. Mixed with salt, it becomes used to hold the fish and then thrown out.
Sushi’s origins aren’t even Japanese, says Nobu Hong Kong government sushi chef Kazunari Araki, who has greater than 20 years of sushi-making experience.
He explains that the combination of rice and fish originated within the 0.33 century alongside the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, in which countries which include Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia are situated.
“The folks who lived across the river would catch quite a few fish, and because the climate is so warm, they needed to find a way to keep the fish [from rotting]. People in the location have been additionally making rice, so they observed a way to keep the fish [fresh] utilizing using a bowl of rice and salt [mixture],” Araki explains.
After the fish have been cleaned and gutted, they were covered inside the salt and rice combination in buckets for several months, or even longer, to maintain the meat. Before they ate the fish, the rice changed into discarded.
By the 12th century, this method of fermenting fish had traveled from the Mekong to China and then directly to Japan, wherein it becomes called narezushi.
However, within the 16th century, during the Edo period, Araki says, vinegar changed salt in the maintenance method, which was a prime breakthrough within the development of sushi. It also gave beginning to the name sushi – which translates to “vinegared rice.”
“With vinegar, you handiest need to marinate the fish for a few hours or overnight, so that shortened the time to consume the fish as compared to six months or a yr,” Araki says.
That led to the fish quantities turning smaller within the 18th and 19th centuries, from an entire fish to slices as large as the circumference of the hand. Araki says the subsequent foremost improvement came within the Meiji era, inside the 1900s when ice machines were developed.
“Ice method you may hold fish clean. You mustn’t marinate it. You reduce it and preserve it on the ice. Whenever you are making the rice, you chop the fish, vicinity it on the pinnacle of the rice, and then consume it. You oughtn’t marinate with soy sauce due to the fact the fish is sparkling. Just dip it into soy sauce. This is the modern-day way to devour nigiri.”
If you want to try narezushi, Shiga prefecture to the east of the ancient capital, Kyoto, is where its miles are still prepared. But Araki warns it’s no longer for everybody.
“When something is fermented, it is going terrible. So you may imagine the fermented fish smells. The fish tastes salty and smells, but you can nonetheless taste the fish. When you have got it with sake, it’s perfect.”
So how did sushi move from being a traditional Japanese food to 1 cherished by diners inside the West? To apprehend its globalization, you want to appear to how the cuisine made its manner to America.
American instructional James Farrer has been reading Japanese food for 12 years and says a couple of “booms” in Japanese food in the West, all characterized using showmanship, performance, and exoticism.