The history of Sushi
Sushi has it’s origins in an ancient Southeast Asian fish preservation method in the 4th century BC. Salted fish would be kept in rice so that as the rice began to ferment, the fish would be preserved. The method quickly became popular throughout China.
Originally, the Chinese would discard the rice when eating the fish. The Japanese traditionally ate their fish with rice, and so when the method reached Japan, the rice was included in the meal.
Around this time, the Japanese also introduced the use of rice wine vinegar when preparing the rice, and the combination of vegetables and preserved food stuffs with the fish.
For centuries, sushi slowly took form, combining art and flavour.
During the early 19th century, Tokyo (Then known as Edo) was dominated by mobile food stalls. Many of these stalls worked in the region of the Edo bay, and this is where the fresh fish and seaweed was obtained for using in sushi.
In 1923, an earthquake destroyed a large part of the bay area, and the sushi chefs were dispersed throughout Japan, spreading their knowledge and skills throughout the region.
Sushi made a comeback in the 1980s, when many people were seeking a healthy, delicious meal. As a result, sushi bars became more popular throughout Europe and the US and has gained fame for being a health-conscious, delicious and attractive meal.
Although the dishes on offer today often have the same names as their ancestors, they are in fact very different. Before the advent of refrigeration, fish would be salted or marinated in soya sauce in order to preserve it. This meant that the sushi would not be dipped into soya sauce after preparation. Modern sushi boasts small, bite-sized portions, half the size of ancient sushi.
Wasabi, the spicy green paste that is often served with sushi, is made from “Japanese Horseradish”. Modern restaurants often serve a wasabi paste, made from dried and powdered wasabi, but in the past, wasabi would be served fresh.
Sushi has transformed drastically during its existence into the delicate, delicious meal that we know today. Each piece is carefully created to emphasize the combination of fresh flavours and contrasting colours.