Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish. Its major ingredients are seafood, vinegared rice, raw vegetables and a variety of ingredients. The style and presentation varies but one of the key ingredients is "sushi rice” commonly known as “shari or sumeshi”. Sushi was introduced in Western countries in 1900. Till 1960s, it was not much popular except in upper class. Slowly people started trying this delicate, unique and delicious cuisine and it became popular. You can guess the popularity of sushi by the fact that there are more than 4000 sushi restaurants in United States alone. Let us share some of amazing interesting facts about sushi you probably didn’t know before!!
14 Interesting facts about sushi you shouldn’t miss!!Annual International sushi day is celebrated on 18 June. The first international sushi day was observed on 18 June 2009. Let’s share some exacting sushi facts;
1. No, sushi did not originate in Japan!!Its common misconception that sushi is a Japanese dish. However, sushi started in Southeast Asia somewhere around the Mekong River. Basically, it was Narezushi - a fermented fish wrapped in sour/ vinegared rice. It later gained popularity in China and Japan and West. Nonetheless, the credit for modern-day concept of sushi goes Japanese chef Hanaya Yohei. In Japan, when you order sushi, you have to choose between sushi and sashimi. People use both terms interchangeably. However, there are quite different. Sashimi literally means “pierced fish”. It is thinly sliced raw fish, usually tuna or salmon and served without rice. You might think that sushi is also raw fish, but it’s not. Sushi translates as “it is sour” and it may include raw or cooked fish, served with vinegar rice.
2. Sushi basically started as street food!!Interestingly, sushi was not served in fine dining restaurants. It was sold as cheep street food for the people who did not have time for proper lunch. An earthquake of 1923 changed the fate of sushi for good. After the devastation o earthquake, the land prices significantly decreased. The sushi vendors began to take their stalls indoors and by the 1950s sushi was served indoors at restaurants.
3. Los Angeles was the first US state to introduce sushi!Los Angeles was the first US state to introduce sushi to American food culture. The credit goes to Noritoshi Kanai and his business partner who opened the first ever sushi restaurant in Little Tokyo, in 1966. This restaurant is considered to be the first ever place where traditional nigiri sushi was offered.
4. Hanaya Yohei – the person behind the Japanese sushi!!Sushi is now believed to be the Japanese dish. The credit goes to Japanese chef Hanaya Yohei. It was in mid-1800s, when Hanaya marinated tuna fish in soy sauce and vinegar to prevent spoilage. Then he slightly cooked the fish and served it with vinegared rice balls. From there started the era of modern day Japanese sushi. There are six different kinds of sushi. These include Chirashizushi, Inarizushi, Maki sushi, Nigiri sushi, Oshi sushi and Nare sushi.
5. Incredible facts about Wasabi – the key ingredient of sushi!!Traditional sushi is served with green paste that we know as “wasabi”. Wasabi comes from the rhizome of a botanical herb - wasabia japonica (from japonicus meaning Japan). The herb is native to Japan. The heat of real wasabi is due to the antimicrobial chemicals present in the herb. For the same reason, wasabi was once used to kill parasites and microbes in raw fish. However, now the technology is advanced and there are lesser chances of parasites as sea food is now flash-frozen. Still, wasabi is part of traditional sushi. Fun fact! You might not know but wasabi nowadays is not real. The real wasabi is quite expensive and only some restaurants serve it. Most of the restaurants serve its substitute which is made with horseradish, cornstarch, mustard flour, and green coloring.
6. Rice was not served with traditional sushi!!Originally, chefs used rice just for fermentation of fish. Rice was never served with sushi or eaten. In addition to fermentation, rice helped developing the characteristic umami flavor of sushi. And they kept fish from decaying. The modern sushi chefs added vinegared rice as an important ingredient of this delicacy.
7. Nori originated in scum!!Nori is the dark green seaweed that is used to wrap sushi rolls. It is said that nori was scraped off boat undersides and wooden pier legs. Then, it was dried and made into sheets. Due to its huge demand in sushi, nori is now cultivated in sophisticated farms.
8. Sushi chefs – itamae must have 10 years of experience to work in restaurant!!Japanese believe that you eat both with your mouth and your eyes as well. Thus, they put a lot of effort in food presentation. You may not know but the sushi master (itamae) is trained for years to attain the status of “master”. They are trained about how to correctly hold the knife and perfectly use it and basically the whole art of sushi making.
9. Uramaki was introduced by Los Angeles based chef!Uramaki are the inside out sushi rolls, delicately wrapped in rice that cover the nori sheet. This type of sushi was introduced by a Los Angeles based chef, Machita Ichiro. In order to try something new and exciting, he replaced tuna with avocado. He also covered the nori sheet with rice layer. This variety of sushi became instantaneously popular.
10. Blue fin tuna sushi – the most expensive type of sushi!!About 80% of the blue fin tuna catch is used for sushi making. Additionally, blue fin tuna sushi is most expressive of all.
11. Traditional Japanese believe women cannot be sushi chef!!Another of interesting facts about sushi!! Japanese believe that women cannot be sushi chef. They believe that women have delicate, small and warm hands; so they may spoil the texture of fish. Moreover, women may ruin the characteristic texture, quality and taste of sushi when they are on periods. They also believe that sushi making is a skilful and arduous task and it’s not for women. There are many myths about women being sushi chef. However, female chefs are trying to break the stereotype.
12. Guinness World Record of longest sushi roll!!Japan holds the Guinness World Record for longest sushi roll. It was on 20 November 2016 and was made by Tamana Otawara Festival Executive Committee in Tamana, Kumamoto, Japan. Total of 400 participants together prepared the longest sushi roll, measuring 2,844.61 m (9,332 ft 8 in). It contained pickled daikon radish, or takuan, and sesame. Nearly 400 participants helped create the sushi roll. Also read: Interesting facts about white chocolate
13. Guinness World Record of most expensive sushi!!The Guinness World Record of world’s most expensive sushi was made on 28 June 2010, in Philippines. Chef Angelito Araneta Jr. made this record by making five nigri rolls worth 91,800 Phillipino Pesos (£1,313.88, $1,978.15).He garnished the sushi rolls with diamonds and wrapped in 24-karat gold leaf. Wow!!
14. Japanese Royals are forbidden to eat puffer fish sashimi – this is why!!For centuries, it’s the law that Japanese emperor cannot eat puffer fish sashimi. This is called as fugu. Sashimi is raw fish and it produces a tingling sensation on tongue when eaten. However, raw meat of puffer fish is really dangerous. It contains a lethal tetrodotoxin – a powerful neurotoxin with no antidote in its meat. The chef must have training of years to make fugu. Interestingly, the chef has to taste his final product himself before presenting to customer. This is because if the chef makes any mistake when preparing fugu, he might potentially kill his own customer. Therefore, the law forbids the emperor to eat fugu or puffer fish sashimi to avoid any mishap. These were some interesting facts about sushi. Stay tuned for more amazing content. . Images courtesy: