Sushi bars and restaurants have been popping up all across the country for a while now. Sushi is the perfect combination of fish, sticky rice, and seaweed, and once dipped in a soy sauce-wasabi blend, it’s a match made in heaven.
Sushi is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia when they needed to keep meat fresh without refrigeration. They would cure meat and fish and wrap it in rice to make it last longer, by storing and fermenting it for several months. When it was ready to eat, they would toss the rice and enjoy the cured meat.
This practice spread throughout Asia and reached Japan centuries later. Fish is a staple in Japan, and the Japanese began adding vinegar to the food to speed up the fermentation process. Eventually the Japanese bypassed the fermentation process altogether, eating the fish raw, and thus began the sushi era.
Read on for some fun facts about sushi:
- The term “sushi” actually refers to rice that has been seasoned, so the word sushi does not suggest raw fish at all. The raw fish is actually called sashimi.
- It is considered polite to pass sushi from one person to another using chopsticks because it parallels a respected tradition at Japanese funerals.
- The miso soup often served with your sushi carries a purpose: to aid in the digestion of your meal. You’re encouraged to enjoy the soup as your appetizer to have the best sushi experience.
- The knives used by sushi chefs are made to resemble samurai swords, and the blades are supposed to be sharpened every day.
- Long ago, sushi chefs had to undergo an average of 10 years of training before working in a restaurant. However, since sushi restaurants have become so popular, sushi chefs are usually put behind the counter after only two days of training.
- All fresh sushi in America must be frozen first. The Food and Drug Administration requires that all raw fish be frozen before serving to kill all the germs inside. This ensures that you are able to enjoy your favorite sushi to the fullest extent.
Katie Nahay is a junior at Auburn University majoring in nutrition dietetics. She plans to become a registered dietician and then continue on to physician assistant’s school or continue writing in the nutrition field.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Goodman