Sushi today is more than just a Japanese cuisine. It has become a popular everyday food in the United States, where some restaurants have preserved Japanese traditions and others have started its own by fusing the art of sushi with other ethnic foods. But the sushi we know and consume today, like other cultural dishes, is quite different from the sushi that was consumed hundreds of years ago.
- Sushi Definition
- Sushi History
- Types Of Sushi
- Sushi Calories
- Sushi is High-end Meal? or Casual Meal?
- Eating it the Right Way
- Sushi Recipes
- 10 Best Sushi Restaurants in the U.S.
Sushi – Definition
In Japan, many may have a similar image of what a sushi looks like – a plump slice of raw fish on top of a small shimmering ball of rice (and that’s exactly what it is) – but the character used to write “sushi” may differ. In fact, there are 5 different ways to write sushi in Japan, partially due to the fact that Japan has three different characters of writing the language (hiragana, katakana, and kanji). Most of the time, people will use the kanji characters 寿司, 鮨, or 鮓 to write “sushi”. Each character represents the same sushi, but the origin of these characters differ. There are many different types of sushi, which will be discussed more in detail in the “Types of Sushi” section.
寿司 is the most popular (and the newest) character you will see – on the internet, literature, restaurant menus, etc. – because of its meaning. The first character “寿” refers to “celebration” or “happiness”. The second character “司” means “to hold the position of”. Combined, sushi simply means the food for celebratory purposes or food that brings happiness. As you may know, sushi uses the finest ingredients – finest rice, finest fish, and in some cases finest meats – and it was not meant to be eaten on a daily basis. In the past, it was considered a special meal and was presented to the Emperor on special occasions, and that is why such kanji characters were used to define “sushi”.
Japanese culinary culture is often divided in to two styles (although there are many others), the Kanto-style and Kansai-style. Kanto represents areas like Tokyo or Edo, and Kansai represents the Osaka region. For a long period of time, the Japanese capital existed in the Kansai region, until in the Edo period, when the capital was moved to Edo (currently Tokyo) in the 19th century. Since then, whether it was in language, art, or food, there’s been two main cultures that represent Japanese food. In Edo, people often associated sushi with the character 鮨, and in Kansai 鮓. However, after World War II, the use of distinct characters became less common, and 寿司 became the commercial character in Japan and other parts of the world.
Sushi – The History
The term “sushi” can be traced back over one thousand years in Japanese culinary history, but the concept existed from much earlier The original purpose of sushi was a method for preserving fish and meats and later to be consumed with rice. Unlike the raw fish you may see at the sushi counters today, sushi back in the day was preserved like pickle using salt, fermentation, or vinegar. This type of sushi is called “narezushi”. While people may prefer the “fresh” sushi we know of today, culinary experts will disagree. The exact fermentation process actually boosts amino acids in the fish, called umami, and makes the fish and meats more delicious. In fact, similar preservation methods existed in Southeast Asia, China, and other parts of the world. Today, such “aging” of meats are very common in Western dining, for example I’m sure you’ve heard of an “aged beef” or “aged steak”. This method of boosting umami is still found in certain styles of sushi today.
The contemporary sushi of using raw fish, often referred to as “hayasushi”, came to life when preservation methods improved. Without refrigeration, raw fish has a very short shelf life. It wasn’t until the 19th century when sushi reached Edo (Tokyo), and hayasushi began replacing the old narezushi. With the ocean very close, people in Edo were able to eat fish that were caught that very day, and this is how the name “Edomae-zushi” came to be known. Since then, Kansai sushi (鮓) and Edo sushi (鮨) have continued to develop their sushi to the sushi we know today. While most restaurants have united in using the sushi characters with 寿司, you will still see different preparation methods of sushi between the two different styles. Even here in the United States, you can very much tell whether the base of the chef’s sushi knowledge is Kansai or Edo.
Types of Sushi
Sushi can be categorized into four main categories – nigiri sushi, chirashi sushi, maki zushi, and inari sushi. In the more recent years, as sushi has expanded to various parts of the world, chefs have developed a new type of sushi, called sushi rolls.
Q. Which is your most favorite sushi type?
Take a look at some comments from our users on the different types of sushi:
1. Nigiri Sushi
“Simple is best, just like in Japan. Rolls are too American and not the real deal.” (Rene, Male 50’s)
“That’s the most orthodox type of sushi. You can try many different kind of sushi with nigiri.” (Akiko, Female 40’s)
“I enjoy the perfect balance between vinegar rice and fresh seafood, it is a craft. Lots of experimentation to dress the fish on the nigiri to improve the taste and appearance, it allows me to see the chef’s creativity.” (Felix, Male 20’s)v
“Nigiri sushi has a satisfied portion of fish and right amount of rice combination that makes my favorite sushi type. Many times chirashi-sushi or chirashi-don has way more rice in the bottom than I want. To eat nigiri is way easier than scooping up rice from the chirashi sushi bowl.” (Mari, Female 40’s)
– Nigiri sushi was the most popular among our users and for good reason. It is the most famous form of sushi, and like many users mentioned, small portions mean you get to try various types of nigiri sushi.
2. Sushi Roll / Maki Sushi
“They are easy to handle and have great flavor. The combination of vegetables and various meat/seafood is countless.” (Tina, Female 40’s)
“Tasty and variety of flavors. Can order several rolls with friends and share the goodness.” (Rod, Male 70’s)
“I like the different varieties and types. I like to try different types at different places when I can.” (Chris, Male 30’s)
“Convenient and offers more of what I want. Particularly enjoy making my own and choosing what goes in.” (James, Male 30’s)
– Sushi rolls and maki sushi have become very popular in the United States. Especially sushi rolls, an American original sushi has allowed chefs to be creative.
3. Chirashi Sushi
“With chirashi you get a reasonable amount of fresh seafood or your choice on a nice bed of rice. There is no waiting and it can be economical too. The dish can also be done very artistically. My favorite place is Murakami Sushi who makes the chirashi to your custom order.” (Howard, Male 40’s)
“It’s satisfying. With all the varieties of fish in a bed of rice. Yumm.” (Rina, Female 20’s)
“Chirashi sushi has a great variety of different ingredients and is very aesthetically pleasing.” (Cora, Female 20’s)
– Chirashi is not as popular as sashimi here in the United States, but chirashi is a great way to try different types of fish and eat it with sushi rice at your own pace. It’s great for lunch.
4. Inari Sushi
Inari sushi is not widely known in the United States yet, but it is great for vegetarians who want to try sushi. Basically, it’s a great hearty meal made from rice stuffed in an aburaage (fried tofu) pouch cooked in a sweet shoyu (soy sauce) sauce. If you want a healthier treat add carrots or shiitake mushrooms to the inari sushi rice. This is an easy sushi that you can make at home for dinner or even prepare for a potluck party! Check out the link below for a great inari recipe!
Sushi, being so small per piece, and so delicious, we tend to eat not thinking about calories. After all it’s only fish and rice, how bad could it be? We will look at the different calories among the different nigiri sushi. Take a look at THIS chart for details on the average calorie per sushi.
Sushi – High-end Meal vs Casual Meal?
For one thing, sushi is not meant to be eaten every single day. Although some of you sushi lovers out there may wish for it, putting the nutritional question aside, it is not the most economical meal out there. So how much should a sushi meal cost? The survey results below show that for many in the US, sushi isn’t just an expensive, high-end, dinner but is closer to the Japanese belief that sushi is the “food that bring happiness”. It is rather a casual dining meal that can be enjoyed with your friends and family at a reasonable price.
Q. How much is your budget per person for dinner at a Sushi Restaurant? *Including one drink, tax, and tips. (Gender: All)
As you can see, generally speaking, most people’s average tab at a sushi restaurant is between $11 and $30, which isn’t so different from an average meal cost for other cuisines. Sure, there are a good percentage of people (27% and 23% respectively) that spend around $60 and $100.
Q. How much is your budget per person for dinner at a Sushi Restaurant? *Including one drink, tax, and tips. (Gender: Male)
Q. How much is your budget per person for dinner at a Sushi Restaurant? *Including one drink, tax, and tips. (Gender: Female)
And even when looking at different genders, the data does not show that big of a difference. So thankfully (or unfortunately, depending on who you are), males shouldn’t be so pressured to order the most expensive item on the menu, because quite frankly men and women eat around the same amount. Unless, that is, you plan to do a little bit of impressing your partner.
With sushi, and of course as is the case with every other meals, enjoy while you eat it. Sit at the counter, have some sake, talk to the grumpy looking sushi chefs (although the number of these grumpy sushi chef is becoming very scarce), watch those magical hands do its alchemy – welding the shining fish and rice with a dab of wasabi, and enjoy, literally speaking, every piece of it.
Sushi – Eating it the Right Way
You sit at the sushi counter surrounded by various people and everyone seems to have his or her own way of eating that piece of sushi. No matter how you eat it, the sushi chefs will most likely smile at you (they’re being polite regardless of how you eat it) and watch you eat it. Is there a right way to eat sushi? Well as in any cuisine there is, and HERE are some dos and don’ts for your next visit at your local sushi restaurant.
Sushi – Recipes Recipes Recipes!
Whether you have your favorite go-to restaurant or you like to shop around by going to various sushi restaurant, not many people will consider making sushi on your own. In Japan, sushi parties are not uncommon. Just like how we, Americans, have barbeques or potlucks, sushi can actually be made at home and is entertaining. Below are some great sushi recipes that you might want to try at home!
Sushi – 10 Best Sushi Restaurants in the U.S.
Luckily, sushi food culture has spread throughout most parts of the United States. And it is very likely that you don’t have to reside in an urban city to eat sushi. However, if you are a sushi connoisseur looking for the best of the best, here is a list of the BEST SUSHI RESTAURANTS that you should definitely try.