Origins of Sushi
Did you know that sushi was the world’s earliest form of Tupperware? Sushi became popular when Japanese fishermen realized that you could wrap fish and other meats inside sticky rice to cause it to ferment much more quickly. The fermentation of the meant prevented damaging bacteria from being able to thrive within it.
Sushi has a very interesting origin that has lasted for centuries and continues to be a very popular food source today. Sushi is made with a combination of shellfish, cooked or raw fish, vegetables, and seasoned rice. Although Sushi is most commonly linked to the Japanese heritage, it actually began in China during the 7th Century.
At that time, any fish caught had to be preserved. The only method possible was by fermentation. Raw fish was cleaned, filleted, and then pressed between layers of heavy salt and usually weighted down with some type of stone. The fish would remain this way for weeks at which the stone would be removed and then replaced with some type of light cover. The fish would stay in the salt layers for a couple of months until the fermentation process was complete.
Over time, a discovery was made that by rolling the fish in rice that had been soaked in vinegar the fish was fermented in a matter of days rather than months. The rice was then tossed out and the fish eaten. However, with drought and a food shortage, the people began consuming the rice as well as the fish and thus, Sushi as we know it today was born.
However, in the 1800s, a very famous chef by the name of Yohei was planning a large dinner party. Finding that he had not set out enough fish to serve his guests, he took a piece of fish from the freezer that had not been fermented and decided to take his chances in serving it. What he found was that frozen fish actually retained their flavor and any bacterium was killed. From this discovery, Yohei created two styles of Sushi – one called Edo, which began as “edomaezushi” that translates to “in front of Edo” referencing catching fish in front of the city of Edo, and the second, Osaka, for the city.
Interestingly, the merchants in the city of Osaka were known for making a distinct type of Sushi that consisted of seasoned rice blended with other ingredients and then formed in a variety of decorative packages that people could eat. In Tokyo, Japan, the sea was loaded with rich shellfish and fish. It was from this city that nigirizushi was created, which consisted of taking a small piece of the fish and serving it on a pad of the seasoned rice. In fact, if you were to visit Japan today, you would most likely be served the nigirizushi style of sushi.
Sushi has taken the world by storm and today is a multi-billion dollar industry. Since 1970, more than 5,000 Sushi restaurants have been opened in America alone and just a few years ago, one annual sale of seaweed reached $36 million. The popularity of Sushi continues to rise in that people are looking for healthy food that is quick and easy to make.
According to the Millennium Edition of the Guiness Word Records, two Sushi records exist. The first was established in January of 1992 in which a 715-pound fin tuna was sold for more than $83,000 and used to create 2,400 servings of Sushi for influential dinners at a staggering $75 per serving. The second record consisted of the creation of the world’s longest Sushi roll. It took more than 600 people to create a 3,279-foot cucumber roll in October of 1997.
With such incredible popularity as well as the health benefits of eating Sushi, it is likely that this food will continue to be a part of everyday life for many more centuries to come.