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What is Sushi?
Sushi is a meal that claimed the appreciation of many people across the world. It is a Japanese recipe which is made of vinegared rice and is topped with other ingredients like vegetables, fruits, sugar, salt, sea food etc. This recipe falls into the category of both appetizer as well as main dish. It tastes good when served cold.
History of sushi
Before we put all our sushi onto a sushi platter, we must fish learn the history of the dish. The simple dish has got an interesting tale of evolution. The word sushi is derived from antiquated grammatical form and its literal meaning is “sour-tasting”. The dish has got an overall sour taste and hence the name follows. This dish has originated from South East Asia in the eighth century. The sea food is the staple food of Japan. Today it is called by the name Narezushi which means salted fish.
The salted fish is stored in fermented rice for a span of few months. The fish is prevented from getting spoiled by the process named lacto-fermentation of rice. Lactic acid bacilli would be released during the fermentation process of cooked rice. Salted fish when placed in fermented rice, it would be preserved by pickling process. Prior to the fish consumption, the rice would be discarded. The Japanese used to treat this early recipe of sushi as the primary source of protein. Narezushi, as of now, exists as a regional specialty as funa-zushi in Shiga Prefecture.
During the period of 14th to 16th century, the Muromachi period, the addition of vinegar to the preparation of Narezushi has started. The purpose of adding vinegar is to improve the taste in terms of sourness of rice and for a high degree of preservation by significantly increasing the longevity of the dish. This also resulted in shortened and gradually minimal or zero fermentation process making the dish ready to eat instantly.
The early sushi dish saw more popularity in Osaka. Over centuries, it transformed into hako-zushi or oshi-zushi. The modification in this recipe is that both rice and seafood were pressed together into typical bamboo molds during the preparation.
The Origins of Sushi
During the period of 17th to 19th century i.e. Edo period, another drastic change has occurred in the recipe. It initiated the serving of fresh fish over nori and vinegared rice (the sea weed which is collected with bamboo nets that are submerged), which is the current style of serving this dish. Today’s Nigirizushi style was prevalent in Edo (present Tokyo) during 1820s. Usage of vinegar made the dish to be eaten immediately without any need to wait for months.
The origin of Nigirizushi is a story related to the chef of Ryogoku, Tokyo. The chef named Hanaya Yohei (1799 – 1858) has devised the perfect technique of preparation of this dish at his shop in 1824. This dish was named as Edomae zushi. This preparation used the freshly caught fish from the Tokyo Bay. Even today, Edomae nigirizushi is the term used to represent quality sushi irrespective of the ingredients origin.