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Different types of sushi ready to be eaten.
Platter of makizushi (sushi rolls)

In Japanese cuisine, sushi (寿司, 鮨, 鮓 ?) is vinegar rice, usually topped with other ingredients, including fish dishes.[1]

Sliced raw fish alone is called sashimi, as distinct from sushi. Combined with hand-formed clumps of rice it is called nigirizushi (にぎり); sushi items served rolled inside or around nori (dried and pressed layer sheets of seaweed or algae) is makizushi (巻き), toppings stuffed into a small pouch of fried tofu is inarizushi; and toppings served scattered over a bowl of sushi rice called chirashi-zushi (ちらし).


[edit] History

Sushi by Hiroshige in Edo period

In the 2nd century, a dictionary of Han empire - 《釋名.卷二.釋飲食第十三》 - stated that "鮓滓也,以鹽米釀之加葅,熟而食之也。" "鮓" was probably the earliest Sushi. Till now, sushi is sometimes called "鮓".

The traditional form of sushi is fermented fish and rice, preserved with salt in a process that has been traced to Southeast Asia, where it remains popular today. The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts; literally, "sushi" means "it's sour",[2] a reflection of its historic fermented roots.

The science behind the fermentation of fish packed in rice is that the vinegar produced from fermenting rice breaks the fish down into amino acids. This results in one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese.[3] The oldest form of sushi in Japan, Narezushi still very closely resembles this process. In Japan, Narezushi evolved into Oshizushi and ultimately Edomae nigirizushi, which is what the world today knows as "sushi".

Modern Japanese sushi has little resemblance to the traditional lacto-fermented rice dish. Originally, when the fermented fish was taken out of the rice, only the fish was consumed and the fermented rice was discarded. The strong-tasting and -smelling funazushi, a kind of narezushi made near Lake Biwa in Japan, resembles the traditional fermented dish.

Beginning in the Muromachi period (AD 1336–1573) of Japan, vinegar was added to the mixture for better taste and for preservation. The vinegar accentuated the rice's sourness, and was known to increase its life span, allowing the fermentation process to be shortened and eventually abandoned. In the following centuries, sushi in Osaka evolved into oshi-zushi, the seafood and the rice were pressed using wooden (usually bamboo) molds. By the mid 18th century, this form of sushi had reached Edo (contemporary Tokyo).[4]

The contemporary version, internationally known as "sushi," was invented by Hanaya Yohei (華屋与兵衛; 1799–1858) at the end of Edo period in Edo. The sushi invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented (it was therefore prepared quickly) and could be eaten with one's hands roadside or in a theatre.[4] Originally, this sushi was known as Edomae zushi, because it used freshly caught fish in the Edo-mae (Edo Bay or Tokyo Bay). Though the fish used in modern sushi no longer usually comes from Tokyo Bay, it is still formally known as Edomae nigirizushi.

[edit] Types of sushi

The common ingredient across all the different kinds of sushi is sushi rice. The variety in sushi arises from the different fillings and toppings, condiments, and the way these ingredients are put together. The same ingredients may be assembled in a traditional or a contemporary way, creating a very different final result.[5]


[edit] Nigirizushi

  • Nigirizushi (握り寿司, lit. hand-formed sushi). This consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that is pressed between the palms of the hands, usually with a bit of wasabi, and a topping draped over it. Toppings are typically fish such as salmon, tuna or seafood. Certain toppings are typically bound to the rice with a thin strip of nori, most commonly tako (octopus), unagi (freshwater eel), anago (sea eel), ika (squid), and tamago (sweet egg). Nigiri is generally served in pairs.
  • Gunkanmaki (軍艦巻, lit. warship roll). A special type of nigiri-zushi: an oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice that has a strip of "nori" wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel that is filled with some soft, loose or fine-chopped ingredient that requires the confinement of nori such as roe, natto, oysters, sea urchin, corn with mayonnaise, and quail eggs.Gunkan-maki was invented at the Ginza Kyubey (Kubei) restaurant in 1931;[6][7] its invention significantly expanded the repertoire of soft toppings used in sushi.
  • Temarizushi (手まり寿司, lit. ball sushi). It is a ball-shaped sushi made by pressing rice and fish into a ball-shaped form by hand using a plastic wrap. They are quite easy to make and thus a good starting point for beginners.[8]

[edit] Makizushi

Rolling maki
Makizushi rolls
Makizushi and Inarizushi in a Japanese supermarket.
  • Makizushi (巻き寿司, lit. rolled sushi). A cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat, called a makisu (巻き簾). Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori, but can occasionally be found wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber, or parsley. Makizushi is usually cut into six or eight pieces, which constitutes a single roll order. Below are some common types of makizushi, but many other kinds exist.
    • Futomaki (太巻き, lit. large or fat rolls). A large cylindrical piece, with nori on the outside. A typical futomaki is three or four centimeters (1.5 in) in diameter. They are often made with two or three fillings that are chosen for their complementary tastes and colors. During the Setsubun festival, it is traditional in Kansai to eat uncut futomaki in its cylindrical form. Futomaki is generally vegetarian, but may include toppings such as tiny fish eggs.
    • Hosomaki (細巻き, lit. thin rolls). A small cylindrical piece, with the nori on the outside. A typical hosomaki has a diameter of about two centimeters (0.75 in). They generally contain only one filling, often tuna, cucumber, kanpyō, thinly sliced carrots, or, more recently, avocado.
      • Kappamaki, (河童巻き) a kind of Hosomaki filled with cucumber, is named after the Japanese legendary water imp fond of cucumbers called the kappa. Traditionally, Kappamaki is consumed to clear the palate between eating raw fish and other kinds of food, so that the flavors of the fish are distinct from the tastes of other foods.
      • Tekkamaki (鉄火巻き) is a kind of Hosomaki filled with raw tuna. Although some believe that the name "Tekka", meaning 'red hot iron', alludes to the color of the tuna flesh, it actually originated as a quick snack to eat in gambling dens called "Tekkaba (鉄火場)", much like the sandwich.[9][10]
      • Negitoromaki (ねぎとろ巻) is a kind of Hosomaki filled with scallion and chopped tuna. Fatty tuna is often used in this style.
      • Tsunamayomaki (ツナマヨ巻) is a kind of Hosomaki filled with canned tuna tossed with mayonnaise.
  • Temaki (手巻き, lit. hand rolls). A large cone-shaped piece of nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about ten centimeters (4 in) long, and is eaten with fingers because it is too awkward to pick it up with chopsticks. For optimal taste and texture, Temaki must be eaten quickly after being made because the nori cone soon absorbs moisture from the filling and loses its crispness and becomes somewhat difficult to bite.
  • Uramaki (裏巻き, lit. inside-out rolls). A medium-sized cylindrical piece, with two or more fillings. Uramaki differs from other maki because the rice is on the outside and the nori inside. The filling is in the center surrounded by nori, then a layer of rice, and an outer coating of some other ingredients such as roe or toasted sesame seeds. It can be made with different fillings such as tuna, crab meat, avocado, mayonnaise, cucumber, carrots.

[edit] Oshizushi

  • Oshizushi (押し寿司, lit. pressed sushi), pressed sushi from the Kansai Region, a favourite and specialty of Osaka. A block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold, called an oshibako. The chef lines the bottom of the oshibako with the toppings, covers them with sushi rice, and then presses the lid of the mold down to create a compact, rectilinear block. The block is removed from the mold and then cut into bite-sized pieces.

[edit] Inarizushi

  • Inari-zushi (稲荷寿司, stuffed sushi). A pouch of fried tofu filled with usually just sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, who is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. The pouch is normally fashioned as deep-fried tofu (油揚げ, abura age). Regional variations include pouches are made of a thin omelette (帛紗寿司, fukusa-zushi or 茶巾寿司, chakin-zushi) or dried gourd shavings (干瓢, kanpyō). It should not be confused with inari maki, which is a roll filled with flavored fried tofu. A very large version, sweeter than normal and often containing bits of carrot, is popular in Hawaii, where it is called "cone sushi."

[edit] Chirashizushi

  • Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司, lit. scattered sushi). A bowl of sushi rice with other ingredients mixed in (also refers to barazushi). It is commonly eaten in Japan because it is filling, fast and easy to make. Chirashizushi most often varies regionally because it is eaten annually as a part of the Doll Festival, celebrated only during March in Japan. Chirashizushi is sometimes interesting because the ingredients are often chef's choice.
    • Edomae chirashizushi (Edo-style scattered sushi) is an uncooked ingredient that is arranged artfully on top of the sushi rice in a bowl.
    • Gomokuzushi (Kansai-style sushi). Cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed in the body of rice in a bowl.

[edit] Narezushi

  • Narezushi (熟れ寿司, lit. matured sushi) is a traditional form of fermented sushi. Skinned and gutted fish are stuffed with salt, placed in a wooden barrel, doused with salt again, then weighed down with a heavy tsukemonoishi (pickling stone). As days pass, water seeps out and is removed. After six months this funazushi can be eaten, remaining edible for another six months or more.

[edit] Western Sushi

Western sushi

The increasing popularity of sushi in North America, as well as around the world, has resulted in variations of sushi typically found in the West and rarely if at all in Japan. Such creations to suit the Western palate[11] were initially fueled by the invention of the California roll. A wide variety of popular rolls has evolved since. Some examples include:

  • California roll consists of avocado, kani kama (imitation crab stick), and cucumber, often made uramaki (with rice on the outside, nori on the inside)
  • Caterpillar roll generally includes avocado, unagi, kani kama, and cucumber.
  • Dynamite roll includes yellowtail (hamachi), and fillings such as bean sprouts, carrots, chili and spicy mayonnaise.
  • Rainbow roll is typically a California roll topped with several various sashimi.
  • Spider roll includes fried soft shell crab and other fillings such as cucumber, avocado, daikon sprouts or lettuce, roe, and spicy mayonnaise.
  • Philadelphia roll almost always consists of smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, and/or onion.
  • Salmon roll has grilled salmon skin with sweet sauce and cucumber.
  • Crunchy roll a California roll deep fried tempura-style, often topped with sweet eel sauce or chili sauce.

Other rolls may include scallops, spicy tuna, beef or chicken or teriyaki roll, okra, vegetables, and cheese. Sushi rolls can also be made with Brown rice and black rice. These have also appeared in Japanese cuisine.

[edit] Ingredients

All sushi has a base of specially prepared rice, and complemented with other ingredients.

[edit] Sushi rice

Sushi is made with white, short-grained, Japanese rice mixed with a dressing made of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and occasionally kombu and sake. It is usually cooled to room temperature before being used for a filling in a sushi. In some fusion cuisine restaurants, short grain brown rice and wild rice are also used.

Sushi rice (sushi-meshi) is prepared with short-grain Japanese rice, which has a consistency that differs from long-grain strains such as those from India. The essential quality is its stickiness. Rice that is too sticky has a mushy texture; if not sticky enough, it feels dry. Freshly harvested rice (shinmai) typically has too much water, and requires extra time to drain the rice cooker after washing.

There are regional variations in sushi rice and, of course, individual chefs have their individual methods. Most of the variations are in the rice vinegar dressing: the Tokyo version of the dressing commonly uses more salt; in Osaka, the dressing has more sugar.

[edit] Nori

A sheet of nori.

The seaweed wrappers used in maki and temaki are called nori. Nori is an algae, traditionally cultivated into the harbors of Japan. Originally, algae was scraped from dock pilings, rolled out into thin, edible sheets, and dried in the sun, in a process similar to making rice paper. Whereas in Japan Nori may never be toasted before being used in food, many brands found in the U.S. reach drying temperatures above 108 degrees Fahrenheit.

Today, the commercial product is farmed, produced, toasted, packaged, and sold in standard-size sheets in about 18 cm by 21 cm (7 in by 8 in). Higher quality nori is thick, smooth, shiny, green,[citation needed] and has no holes. When stored for several months, nori sheets can change color to dark green-brownish.

Nori by itself is an edible snack and is available with salt or flavored with teriyaki sauce. The flavored variety, however, tends to be of lesser quality and is not suitable for sushi.

When making fukusazushi, a paper-thin omelette may replace a sheet of nori as the wrapping. The omelette is traditionally made on a rectangular omelette pan (makiyakinabe), and used to form the pouch for the rice and fillings.

[edit] Toppings and fillings

Yaki Anago-Ippon-Nigiri (焼きアナゴ一本握り). A roasted and sweet sauced whole conger.
  • Fish
For culinary, sanitary, and aesthetic reasons, fish eaten raw must be fresher and of higher quality than fish which is cooked.
Professional sushi chefs are trained to recognize important attributes, including smell, color, firmness, and freedom from parasites that may go undetected in commercial inspection.
Commonly-used fish are tuna (maguro, chūtoro, shiro-maguro, toro), Japanese amberjack, yellowtail (hamachi), snapper (kurodai), mackerel (saba), and salmon (sake). The most valued sushi ingredient is toro, the fatty cut of tuna. This comes in a variety of ōtoro (often from the bluefin species of tuna) and chūtoro, meaning middle toro, implying that it is halfway into the fattiness between toro and regular red tuna (maguro).
Aburi style refers to nigiri sushi where the fish is partially grilled (topside) and partially raw. Most nigiri sushi will be completely raw.
  • Seafood
Other seafoods such as squid (ika), eel (anago and unagi), conger (hamo), octopus (tako), shrimp (ebi and amaebi), clam (mirugai, aoyagi and akagi), fish roe (ikura, masago, kazunoko and tobiko), sea urchin (uni), crab (kani), and various kinds of shellfish (abalone, prawn, scallop) are the most popular seafoods in sushi. Oysters, however, are less common, as the taste is not thought to go well with the rice. Kani kama, or imitation crab stick, is commonly subsituted for real crab, most notably in California rolls.
Ebifurai-Maki (エビフライ巻き). Fried-Shrimp Roll.
  • Vegetables
Pickled daikon radish (takuan) in shinko maki, pickled vegetables (tsukemono), fermented soybeans (nattō) in nattō maki, avocado, cucumber in kappa maki, asparagus, yam, pickled ume (umeboshi), gourd (kanpyō), burdock (gobo), and sweet corn may be mixed with mayonnaise.
  • Other fillings
Tofu and eggs (in the form of slightly sweet, layered omelette called tamagoyaki and raw quail eggs ride as a gunkan-maki topping) are common.
Date-Maki (伊達巻). Futomaki wrapped with sweet-tamagoyaki.

[edit] Condiments

The common name for soy sauce.
A piquant paste made from the grated root of the wasabi japonica plant. True wasabi has anti-microbial properties and may reduce the risk of food poisoning.[12] The traditional grating tool for wasabi is a sharkskin grater or samegawa oroshi.
An imitation wasabi (seiyo-wasabi), made from horseradish and mustard powder and dyed green is common. It is found at lower-end kaiten zushi restaurants, in bento box sushi and at most restaurants outside of Japan. If manufactured in Japan, it may be labelled "Japanese Horseradish".[13]
Sweet, pickled ginger. Eaten to both cleanse the palate and aid in digestion.
In Japan, green tea (ocha) is invariably served together with sushi. Better sushi restaurants often use a distinctive premium tea known as mecha. In sushi vocabulary, green tea is known as agari.

[edit] Nutrition

Sushi in shops are usually sold in plastic trays.

The main ingredients of traditional Japanese sushi, raw fish and rice, are naturally low in fat, high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. The same may not be said categorically of Western style sushi, which increasingly features non-traditional ingredients such as mayonnaise, avocado, and cream cheese.

Traditional sushi contains:

  • Fats: Most seafood are naturally low in fat; and what fat is found in them is generally rich in unsaturated fat Omega-3. Since sushi is often served raw, no fat is introduced in its preparation.
  • Proteins: Fish, tofu, seafood, egg, and many other sushi fillings contain high levels of protein.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: These are found in many of the vegetables used for sushi. For example, the gari and nori used to make sushi are both rich in nutrients. Other vegetables wrapped within the sushi also offer various degrees of nutritional value.
  • Carbohydrates: These are found in the rice and the vegetables.

[edit] Health risks

Differential symptoms of parasite infection by raw fish: Clonorchis sinensis (a trematode/fluke), Anisakis (a nematode/roundworm) and Diphyllobothrium a (cestode/tapeworm),[14] all have gastrointestinal, but otherwise distinct, symptoms. [15] [16] [17] [18]

Some fish such as tuna, especially bluefin, can carry high levels of mercury and can be hazardous when consumed in large quantities.[19]

Parasite infection by raw fish is rare in the modern world (less than 40[14] cases per year in the U.S.), and involves mainly three kinds of parasites: Clonorchis sinensis (a trematode/fluke), Anisakis (a nematode/roundworm) and Diphyllobothrium a (cestode/tapeworm),[14]

In addition, some forms of sushi, notably puffer fugu, can cause severe poisoning if not prepared properly.

Also, some sushi ingredients and condiments such as soy sauce, contain high levels of sodium, posing a risk to those with hypertension or renal disorders.

[edit] Presentation

Sushi chef preparing Nigirizushi, Kyoto, Japan.

Traditionally, sushi is served on minimalist Japanese-style, geometric, mono- or duo-tone wood or lacquer plates, in keeping with the aesthetic qualities of this cuisine.

Many sushi restaurants offer fixed-price sets, selected by the chef from the catch of the day. These are often graded as shō-chiku-bai (松竹梅), shō/matsu (松, pine), chiku/take (竹, bamboo) and bai/ume (梅, ume), with matsu the most expensive and ume the cheapest.

In Japan, and increasingly abroad, sushi is served kaiten zushi (sushi train) style. Color coded plates of sushi are placed on a conveyor belt; as the belt passes customers choose as they please. After finishing, the bill is tallied by counting how many plates of each color have been taken.

[edit] Etiquette

Nigiri sushi is traditionally eaten with the fingers since sushi rice is packed loosely so as to fall apart in one's mouth.[20][21]

[edit] Utensils for preparing sushi

[edit] Environmental aspects of sushi

Some environmental groups, such as the WWF, have begun campaigns to raise awareness of overfishing.[22]

One species in particular, the Bluefin Tuna, is being acutely impacted. It is reported that the Mediterranean bluefin is at only 13% of its 1975 population, despite management and conservation measures introduced by ICCAT (The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna). Worldwide, the bluefin's plight has been exacerbated by "tuna farms," where wild caught bluefin are fattened up in pens often subsidized by European Union nations wishing to support domestic aquaculture.

[edit] Gallery

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "If You Knew Sushi," Urban Legend Reference Pages, February 20, 2007
  2. ^ Japanese Food Culture. "The History of Sushi". Retrieved on 2008-07-26. 
  3. ^ Kouji ITOU, Shinsuke KOBAYASHI, Tooru OOIZUMI, Yoshiaki AKAHANE (2006). "Changes of proximate composition and extractive components in narezushi, a fermented mackerel product, during processing". Fisheries Science 72 (6): 1269–1276. doi:10.1111/j.1444-2906.2006.01285.x. 
  4. ^ a b Zschock, Day. The Little Black Book of Sushi: The Essential Guide to the World of Sushi. Page 14-15. 2005. ISBN 1593599617.
  5. ^ Kawasumi, Ken (2001). The Encyclopedia of Sushi Rolls. Graph-Sha. ISBN 4-88996-076-7. 
  6. ^ Chad Hershler, "Sushi Then and Now", The Walrus, May 2005.
  7. ^ (ja) 軍カン巻の由来, お寿し大辞典 > お寿し用語集, 小僧寿しチェーン.
  8. ^ "Temarizushi". nifty. com. Retrieved on 2008-09-14. 
  9. ^ Andy Bellin, "Poker Night in Napa", Food & Wine Magazine, March, 2005.
  10. ^ Ryuichi Yoshii, "Tuna rolls (Tekkamaki)", Sushi, p. 48 (1999), Tuttle Publishing, ISBN 962593460X.
  11. ^ "Types of Sushi". Retrieved on 2008-07-26. 
  12. ^ Shin, I.S.; Masuda H., Naohide K. (August 2004). "Bactericidal activity of wasabi (Wasabia japonica) against Helicobacter pylori.". Int J Food Microbiol 94 (3): 255–61. doi:10.1016/S0168-1605(03)00297-6. PMID 15246236. 
  13. ^ Shimbo, Hiroko (2000). The Japanese Kitchen. The Harvard Commons Press. ISBN 1-55832-176-4. 
  14. ^ a b c WaiSays: About Consuming Raw Fish Retrieved on April, 14, 2009
  15. ^ For Chlonorchiasis: Public Health Agency of Canada > Clonorchis sinensis - Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) Retrieved on April, 14, 2009
  16. ^ For Anisakiasis: WrongDiagnosis: Symptoms of Anisakiasis Retrieved on April, 14, 2009
  17. ^ For Diphyllobothrium: MedlinePlus > Diphyllobothriasis Updated by: Arnold L. Lentnek, MD. Retrieved on April, 14, 2009
  18. ^ For symptoms of diphyllobothrium due to vitamin B12-deficiency University of Maryland Medical Center > Megaloblastic (Pernicious) Anemia Retrieved on April 14, 2009
  19. ^ Burros, Marian (2008-01-23), "High Mercury Levels Are Found in Tuna Sushi", The New York Times, 
  20. ^ Issenberg, Sasha. The Sushi Economy. Gotham Books: 2007
  21. ^ Keiichi Masuda, owner and chef, Mikado restaurant[1]
  22. ^ [2]

[edit] External links

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