As if being the country of the rising sun, beautiful geishas and fast technology was not enough, Japan has another product that has done it proud beyond words. Sushi is quintessentially the latest Japan has to offer this time to hungry stomachs and curious minds.
Sushi as most people have been led to believe is not just raw fish wrapped in or placed on top of vinegary rice, but a whole world of goodness in many different forms that appeal to lots of taste buds. Sushi is flexible in terms of recipe and literally adapts to whatever category of food you want to put it in.
While a lot is being said about fusion sushi the history and origin of this delicacy often goes unmentioned. Sushi according to some is Chinese in origin and was introduced to Japan in the 7th Century. People made sushi to actually preserve fish as there was no electricity or there were no refrigerators back then. In doing so the Japanese began to combine it with their staple rice and soon sushi was a term used to refer to rice and raw fish.
The fillings, condiments and toppings make each type of sushi different in taste and texture. Broadly regardless of filling or topping, sushi is divided into makizushi, nigirizushi, inarizushi, oshizushi, chirashizushi, sukeroku and narezushi. Makizushi and nigirizushi are most well known to sushi lovers globally although the others are equally relished.
Inarizushi is a deep fried variation on the sushi theme which has a sweeter taste and is basically a fried tofu pouch with rice stuffing. Chirashizushi on the other hand is a mixed spread of toppings typically fish and vegetables on a bed or dish of rice.
Sushi is a broad term given for the cuisine under this type, but really sushi is the vinegared rice while the raw fish is called sashimi. The most well known accompaniments to most sushi types are the humble soy sauce also called the shoyu and a fiery wasabi or the paste made from green horse radish and pickled ginger or gari. Pickled ginger is also eaten between each sushi offering to refresh the taste buds in the mouth.
Typically the rice is cooked and spiced with sweetish rice wine vinegar and shaped into oblongs to make nigiri sushi or rolled in seaweed or nori to make maki-sushi. The nigiri sushi is topped with pieces of Tuna, eel or other Japanese fish while the maki-sushi is filled with an assortment of either raw or cooked fillings to make it a delectable quick or picnic food.
The number of fillings that can go into a sushi roll can be counted with your fingers in the case of a traditional roll and limitless with the new fusion rolls available in most cities in America. Traditional Japanese maki-sushi uses one of the many abundantly available raw fish, tuna, roe, cucumber, watercress, shaved gourd, shiitake or other mushrooms in addition to crab sticks and shrimps.
Similarly the toppings for nigiri-sushi are sometimes sweet omelets and mostly tuna, eel, yellowtail, sea urchin, squid, boiled octopus, scallops, shrimps cooked, raw or grilled. Wasabi is generally mixed into the rice for nigiri-sushi or combined with soy sauce for added flavor.