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Front row, left to right: uramaki roll, inarizushi, and nigiri (two kinds). Rear row: gunkanmaki.

In Japanese cuisine, sushi is a food made of vinegared rice combined with various toppings or fillings, which includes seafood and can also include meat, vegetables, mushrooms, or eggs. Sushi toppings may be raw, cooked, or marinated.

Sushi as an English word has come to refer to the complete dish (rice together with toppings); this is the sense used in this article. The original term Japanese: 寿 sushi (-zushi in some compounds such as makizushi) in the Japanese language refers to the rice, not the fish or other toppings.<ref>Barber, Kimiko;Takemura, Hiroki (2002). Sushi: Taste and Technique. DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7894-8916-3. </ref>

In the Western world, sushi is often misunderstood to mean only clumps of rice topped with raw fish, or to refer to other raw-seafood dishes, such as sashimi (sushi and sashimi are considered distinct in Japan).

There are various types of sushi. Sushi served rolled in nori (dried sheets of laver, a kind of pressed and dried alga) is called maki (rolls). Sushi made with toppings laid onto hand-formed clumps of rice is called nigiri; sushi made with toppings stuffed into a small pouch of fried tofu is called inari; and sushi made with toppings served scattered over a bowl of sushi rice is called chirashi-zushi, or scattered sushi.


[edit] History

Main article: History of sushi

Sushi originates from the practice of preserving fish by fermenting it in rice for months, a tradition which can be traced back to mainland Asia. When the fermented fish is taken out to be eaten, only the fish was eaten and the rice was discarded. The strong-tasting narezushi which is made near Lake Biwa resembles the traditional fermented dish. Starting in the Muromachi Period (1336 to 1573) in Japan, rice vinegar was added to the mixture which accentuated the sourness of the dish and made its life span longer, while allowing the fermentation process to be shortened and eventually abandoned. The following centuries saw the development of oshi-zushi in Osaka, where seafood and rice were pressed into wooden moulds, and this dish arrived in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in the middle of 18th century. It was in Edo that this evolved into what is known as Edo-mae zushi in the early 19th century, using fish freshly caught in "Edo-mae" (Edo Bay). At the time, it was considered a cheap meal for the common people. It is this Edo-mae zushi which is popular today throughout Japan and the world.

[edit] Types of sushi

The common ingredient in all the different kinds of sushi is sushi rice (shari in Japanese). Variety arises in the choice of the fillings and toppings, the other condiments, and in the manner they are put together. The same ingredients may be assembled in various different ways, traditional and contemporary.<ref>Kawasumi, Ken (2001). The Encyclopedia of Sushi Rolls. Graph-Sha. ISBN 4-88996-076-7.</ref>

[edit] Nigiri-zushi

  • Nigiri-zushi (握り寿司, lit. hand-formed sushi). Arguably the most typical form of sushi at restaurants, it consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice which is pressed between the palms of the hands, with a speck of wasabi and a thin slice of a topping (neta) draped over it, possibly bound with a thin band of nori. Assembling nigiri-zushi is surprisingly difficult to do well. It is sometimes called Edomaezushi, which reflects its origins in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in the 18th century. It is often served two to an order.
  • Gunkan-maki (軍艦巻, lit. warship roll). A special type of nigiri-zushi: an oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice (similar to that of nigiri-zushi) that has a strip of nori wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel that is filled with the topping. The topping is typically some soft ingredient that requires the confinement of the nori, for example, roe, natto, or (a contemporary fusion) macaroni salad. The gunkan-maki was invented at Kyubei restaurant (est. 1932) in Ginza and its invention significantly expanded the repertoire of soft toppings used in sushi.

[edit] Maki-zushi (roll)

  • Makizushi (巻き寿司, lit. rolled sushi or cut rolls). A cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat, called a makisu. Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori, a sheet of dried pressed laver that encloses the rice and fillings, but can occasionally be found wrapped in a thin omelette.[1] Makizushi is usually cut into six or eight pieces, which constitute an order. Below are the common types of makizushi, although many other kinds exist.
    • Futomaki (太巻き, lit. large or fat cut rolls). A large cylindrical piece, with the nori on the outside. Typical futomaki are three or four centimeters diameter. They are often made with two or three fillings, chosen for their complementary taste and color. During the Setsubun festival, it is traditional in Kansai to eat the uncut futomaki in its cylindrical form. Futomaki is typically vegetarian, and can include toppings such as daikon and egg.
    • Hosomaki (細巻き, lit. thin cut rolls). A small cylindrical piece, with the nori on the outside. Typical hosomaki are about two centimeters thick and two centimeters wide. They are generally made with only one filling.
      • Kappamaki, a kind of hosomaki filled with cucumber, is named after the Japanese legendary water imp fond of cucumbers, the kappa (河童). Kappamaki is consumed as a way of clearing the palate in-between eating raw fish, so that the flavors of the fish are distinct from one another.
      • Tekkamaki (鉄火巻き) is a kind of hosomaki filled with tuna. "Tekka" (鉄火) describes hot iron, which has a color similar to the red tuna flesh.
    • Uramaki (裏巻き, lit. inside-out cut rolls). A medium-sized cylindrical piece, with two or more fillings. Uramaki differ from other maki because the rice is on the outside and the nori within. The filling is in the center surrounded by a liner of nori, then a layer of rice, and an outer coating of some other ingredient such as roe or toasted sesame seeds. Typically thought of as an invention to suit the American palate[2], uramaki is not commonly seen in Japan. The California roll is a popular form of uramaki. The increased popularity of sushi in North America, as well as around the world, has resulted in numerous different kinds of uramaki and regional off-shoots being created. Regional types include the B.C. roll (salmon) and Philadelphia roll (cream cheese).
  • Temaki (手巻き, lit. hand rolls). A large cone-shaped piece, with the nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about ten centimeters long, and is eaten with the fingers since it is too awkward to pick up with chopsticks. Temaki must be consumed quickly after being made for optimal taste and texture, as the nori cone soon absorbs moisture from the filling, making it lose its crispness and become somewhat difficult to bite through.
Makizushi selection (Futomaki and Inarizushi at right) from a Kansai Super store.
  • Inari-zushi (稲荷寿司, stuffed sushi). A pouch of fried tofu filled usually with just sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, whose messenger, the fox, is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. The pouch is normally fashioned from deep-fried tofu (油揚げ or abura age). Regional variations include pouches made of a thin omelet (帛紗寿司 (hukusa-zushi) or 茶巾寿司 (chakin-zushi)) or dried gourd shavings (干瓢 or kanpyo).

[edit] Oshizushi

  • Oshizushi (押し寿司, lit. pressed sushi). A block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold, called an oshibako. The chef lines the bottom of the oshibako with the topping, covers it with sushi rice, and presses the lid of the mold down to create a compact, rectilinear block. The block is removed from the mold and cut into bite-sized pieces.

[edit] Chirashi

  • Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司, lit. scattered sushi). A bowl of sushi rice with the other ingredients mixed in. Also referred to as barazushi. It is commonly eaten in Japan because it is filling and easy to make. Chirashizushi most often varies regionally, and it is eaten annually as a part of the Doll Festival, celebrated in March in Japan.
    • Edomae chirashizushi (Edo-style scattered sushi) Uncooked ingredients artfully arranged on top of the rice in the bowl.
    • Gomokuzushi (Kansai-style sushi). Cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed in the body of the rice in the bowl.

[edit] Narezushi (old style fermented sushi)

  • Narezushi (熟れ寿司, lit. matured sushi) is an older form of sushi. Skinned and gutted fish are stuffed with salt then placed in a wooden barrel, doused with salt again, and weighed down with a heavy tsukemonoishi (pickling stone). They are salted for ten days to a month, then placed in water for 15 minutes to an hour. They are then placed in another barrel, sandwiched, and layered with cooled steamed rice and fish. Then this mixture is again partially sealed with otosibuta and a pickling stone. As days pass, water seeps out, which must be removed. Six months later, this funazushi can be eaten, and it remains edible for another six months or more.

[edit] Ingredients

Various nigiri sushi in an ice sculpture

All sushi has a base of specially prepared rice, complemented with other ingredients.

[edit] Sushi rice

Sushi is made with white, short-grained, Japanese rice mixed with a dressing made of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, kombu, and occasionally sake. It is cooled to body temperature before being used. In some fusion cuisine restaurants, short grain brown rice and wild rice are also used.

Sushi rice (sushi-meshi) is prepared with short-grain Japonica rice, which has a consistency that differs from long-grain strains such as Indica. The essential quality is its stickiness. Rice that is too sticky has a mushy texture; if it is not sticky enough, it feels dry. Freshly harvested rice (shinmai) typically has too much water, and requires extra time to drain after washing.

There are regional variations in sushi rice, and of course individual chefs have their individual methods. Most of the variations are in the rice vinegar dressing: the Tokyo version of the dressing commonly uses more salt; in Osaka, the dressing has more sugar.

Sushi rice generally must be used shortly after it is made. The Wiki Cookbook has a simple recipe.

[edit] Nori

The seaweed wrappers used in maki and temaki are called nori. This is an algae traditionally cultivated in the harbors of Japan. Originally, the algae was scraped from dock pilings, rolled out into sheets, and dried in the sun in a process similar to making paper. Nori is toasted before being used in food.

Today, the commercial product is farmed, produced, toasted, packaged, and sold in standard-size sheets, about 18 cm by 21 cm in size. Higher quality nori is thick, smooth, shiny, black, and has no holes.

Nori by itself is edible as a snack. Many children love flavored nori, which is coated with teriyaki sauce. However, those tend to be cheaper, lesser quality nori that is not used for sushi.

[edit] Omelette

When making fukusazushi, a paper-thin omelette may replace a sheet of nori as the wrapping. The omelette is traditionally made in a rectangular omelette pan (makiyakinabe), and used to form the pouch for the rice and fillings.

[edit] Toppings and fillings

Yaki Anago-Ippon-Nigiri(焼きアナゴ一本握り). A roasted and sweet sauced whole eel by soy sauce.
  • Fish
For culinary, sanitary, and aesthetic reasons, fish eaten raw must be fresher and of higher quality than fish which is cooked. A professional sushi chef is trained to recognize good fish, which smells clean, has a vivid color, and is free from harmful parasites. Only ocean fish are used raw in sushi; freshwater fish, which are more likely to harbor parasites, are cooked.
Commonly-used fish are tuna, yellowtail, snapper, conger, eel, mackerel and salmon. The most valued sushi ingredient is toro, the fatty cut of tuna. This comes in varieties ōtoro (often from the bluefin species of tuna) and chutoro, meaning middle toro, implying it is halfway in fattiness between toro and regular red tuna (akami).
  • Seafood
Other seafoods are squid, octopus, shrimp, fish roe, sea urchin (uni), and various kinds of shellfish. Oysters, however, are not typically put in sushi because the taste is not thought to go well with the rice. However, some sushi restaurants in New Orleans are known to have Fried Oyster Rolls, and Crawfish rolls.
Ebifurai-Maki(エビフライ巻き). Fried-Shrimp Roll.
  • Vegetables
Pickled daikon radish (takuan) in shinko maki, various pickled vegetables (tsukemono), fermented soybeans (natto) in nattō maki, avocado in California rolls, cucumber in kappa maki, asparagus, yam, tofu, pickled ume (umeboshi), gourd (kampyō), burdock (gobo), and sweet corn mixed with mayonnaise.
  • Red meat
Beef, ham, Sausage, and horse meat, often lightly cooked.
Note: It is a common misconception that in Hawaii, fried Spam is a popular local variation of sushi. In reality, Spam musubi differs from sushi in that its rice lacks the vinegar required to classify it as such. Spam musubi is correctly classified as onigiri.
  • Other fillings
Eggs (in the form of a slightly sweet, layered omelet called tamagoyaki), raw quail eggs riding as a gunkan-maki topping.
Date-Maki(伊達巻). Futomaki wrapped with sweet-tamagoyaki.

[edit] Condiments

The common name for soy sauce.
A piquant paste made from the grated root of the wasabi plant. Real wasabi (hon-wasabi) is wasabi japonica. Hon-wasabi has anti-microbial properties and may reduce the risk of food poisoning.<ref>

Template:Cite journal</ref> The traditional grating tool for wasabi is a sharkskin grater or samegawa oroshi.

An imitation wasabi (seiyo-wasabi), made from horseradish and mustard powder and dyed green, is common. It is found at lower-end kaiten zushi restaurants, in bento box sushi, and at most restaurants outside of Japan, If it is manufactured in Japan, it may be labelled "Japanese Horseradish".<ref>Shimbo, Hiroko (2000). The Japanese Kitchen. The Harvard Commons Press. ISBN 1-55832-176-4.</ref>
Sweet, pickled ginger. Gari (ginger) is eaten to both cleanse the palette as well as to aid in the digestive process.

[edit] Presentation

Sushi chef preparing Nigirizushi, Kyoto, Japan.

In Japan, and increasingly abroad, conveyor belt sushi/sushi train — kaiten zushi) restaurants are a popular, cheap way of eating sushi. At these restaurants, the sushi is served on color-coded plates, each color denoting the cost of that piece of sushi. The plates are placed on a conveyor belt or boats floating in a moat. The belt or boat passes the sushi by the customers who can pick and choose what they want. After finishing, the bill is tallied by counting how many plates of each color have been taken. Some kaiten sushi restaurants in Japan operate on a fixed price system, with each plate, consisting usually of two pieces of sushi, generally costing ¥100.

More traditionally, sushi is served on minimalist Japanese-style, geometric, wood or lacquer plates which are mono- or duo-tone in color, in keeping with the aesthetic qualities of this cuisine. Many small sushi restaurants actually use no plates — the sushi is eaten directly off of the wooden counter, usually with one's hands, despite the historical tradition of eating nigiri with chopsticks.

Modern fusion presentation, particularly in the United States, has given sushi a European sensibility, taking Japanese minimalism and garnishing it with Western gestures such as the colorful arrangement of edible ingredients, the use of differently flavored sauces, and the mixing of foreign flavors, highly suggestive of French cuisine, deviating somewhat from the more traditional, austere style of Japanese sushi.

[edit] Nutritional Information about Sushi

Sushi is very nutritious due to the fact that it is naturally low in fat (with the exception of some roes and western style rolls), high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Specifically:

  • Fats: Fish and seafood are naturally low in fat, and what fat is found in them is generally unsaturated fat rich in Omega-3. The fact that they are served raw also means that no extra fat is used in their preparation.
  • Proteins: Fish, seafood, egg, and many other sushi fillings contain high levels of protein.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: These are found in many of the vegetables used for sushi. For example, the gari and nori used to make sushi are both rich in nutrients. Other vegetables wrapped within the sushi also offer various degrees of nutritional value.
  • Carbohydrates: These are found in the rice and the vegetables.

[edit] Utensils for preparing sushi

Also see the comprehensive list of Japanese cooking utensils.

[edit] Guinness World Records

  1. January 1992. A 325 kg (715 lb) Bluefin tuna sold for $83,500 (almost $257 / kg or $117 / lb) in Tokyo, Japan. The tuna was reduced to 2,400 servings of sushi for wealthy diners at $75 per serving. The estimated takings from this one fish were approximately $180,000. At the time, the fish held the record for Most Expensive Fish.
  2. October 12, 1997: The longest sushi roll. Six hundred members of the Nikopaka Festa Committee made a kappamaki (cucumber roll) that was 1 km (3,279 ft.) long at Yoshii, Japan.

[edit] Sushi gallery

[edit] References

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[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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