Sushi is basically a Japanese dish, which contains vinegar-ed rice, topped with other ingredients, such as fish and vegetables. Most of the people have misconception about the dish, as in they consider it to be raw fish or fresh raw sea food dish. However, this is not the case, as the raw fish is known as sashimi in Japan, which is the raw fish component of sushi. Apart from the fish, the main ingredient of the dish is sticky rice. Moreover, there are varied kinds of sushi available, which contain different ingredients such as cooked fish, shellfish etc.
The modern sushi was developed in the process of finding a method to preserve fish. This led to the fermentation of fish, which is traced back to the Southeast Asian region. For the process of fermentation of fish, salt and rice were used. The vinegar produced from the fermented rice breaks the fish into amino acids, thereby producing one of the basic tastes called umami in Japanese. Initially, only the fermented fish was consumed, while the rice was discarded. The traditional sushi was known as Narezushi in Japan, which evolved to Oshizushi and then to Edomae Nigirizushi, which is what the world knows as sushi today.
In the beginning of the Muromachi period in Japan, vinegar started to be used in fermentation, to provide better taste and preservation. The vinegar worked to enhance the sourness of the rice, making it last long. This way, the fermentation process was speeded up and was finally dumped. Following this, oshi-zushi was evolved, wherein sea food and rice were pressed using wooden molds. By the 18th century, sushi reached Edo (ancient Tokyo). Here, Hanya Yohei invented it as fast food, which did not use fermented fish and was prepared quickly. As the dish utilized freshly caught fish from Edo Bay (Edomae), it came to be known as Edomae nigirizushi.
Different Kinds of Sushi
A wide variety can be seen in the preparation of sushi, which is basically due to usage of different ingredients such as varied fillings and toppings, condiments, and the way these ingredients are used together. Some of the popular forms of sushi are:
- Nigiri-zushi - It is hand formed sushi, which is quite widely seen in restaurants. It consists of an oblong mound of rice, which is pressed between hands, along with a speck of wasabi. A slice of topping known as neta is draped over it, bound with a thin band of nori (seaweed wrappers).
- Makizushi - Makizushi is basically rolled sushi. Usually, a cylinder is formed with the help of a bamboo mat, called makisu. It is generally wrapped in nori, but occasionally, it can be wrapped in a thin omelette, sesame seeds, cucumber, or parsley. Makizushi is cut into six or eight pieces, which constitutes a single roll order. This form of sushi is available in different forms like Futomaki, Hosomaki, Kappamaki, Tekkamaki, etc.
- Oshizushi -Oshizushiis basically a block-shaped piece, formed with the help of a wooden mold known as oshibako. The bottom of the dish includes toppings, which are covered by sushi rice. The ingredients are then pressed by the mold to produce a rectilinear block, which is later cut into small eatable size. This form of sushi originated in Kansai region and is a specialty of Osaka.
- Chirashizushi - Chirashizushiis a form of scattered sushi. It contains a bowl of sushi rice mixed with other ingredients. It is filling as well as easy to make, making it a popular dish in Japan.
- Narezushi -It is an old form of sushi, wherein skinned ad gutted fish are stuffed with salt, placed in a wooden barrel, submerged in salt again and then sealed with a pickling stone. After keeping it for ten days or a month, they are placed in water for 15 minutes to an hour. After this, they are once again placed in another barrel, sandwiched between boiled and steamed rice and fish. This mixture is sealed with a lid and a pickling stone. With the passage of time, the water completely dries out. After around six months, this Narezushi can be eaten till another six months.
- Temarizushi - It is a ball-shaped sushi, made by pressing rice and fish into balls by hand, using a plastic wrap. They can be made quite easily and thus, serve a good starting point for beginners.