June 18 is International Sushi Day.
Although I can’t join the festivities directly (I’m allergic to fish, and the irony of that fact isn’t lost on me) I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some fun facts about this Asian delicacy:
Sushi didn’t originate in Japan. The original “sushi” (today called “nare-zushi”) originated in Southeast Asia and spread to Japan by way of China. Nare-zushi is made by cleaning raw fish and pickling/fermenting it in salt. The process takes about six months to complete.
Sushi comes in many varieties. In addition to nare-zushi, some of the most popular are:
1. Oshizushi, or “pressed sushi,” consisting of pressed rice “blocks” with raw fish and other toppings.
2. Nigirizushi, or “hand formed sushi” – oblong blocks of hand-pressed rice with fish and other items laid over the top. Sometimes the toppings are held on with a thin strip of nori (seaweed).
3. Makizushi, “rolled sushi,” contains rice and various other ingredients rolled in a strip of nori and sliced into coin-shaped segments. The “California roll” popular in the United States is a type of makizushi.
4. Chirashizushi refers to a bowl of sushi rice topped with various kinds of seafood and other toppings. The toppings, which can vary from sushi fish to edamame, are arranged carefully on top of the bowl to create a beautiful presentation.
Sushi is an art form. Skilled sushi chefs train for years to learn the elaborate techniques involved in sushi preparation. Presentation is as important as taste, and well-made sushi is lovely to behold. (I may not be able to eat it, but I adore the way it looks!)
The key to sushi is the rice. Sushi rice is a short-grain “sticky rice” dressed with sushi-su (seasoned vinegar). Sushi-su usually contains a special balance of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. If you’re looking to make your own, there’s a recipe here. Sushi rice has much more taste than many rices popular in the West – it’s even tasty eaten “plain.”
In fact, many Japanese people eat rice without additions or sauces – historically, the rice was a course by itself.
Do you eat sushi? What’s your favorite kind? If you haven’t eaten it – would you?
Hop into the comments and let me know!