Sushi, considered to be an artistic and highly skilled Japanese cuisine, is now so common and popular that you can walk right into your local grocery store and pick up a take-away package of sushi to eat at home while binge-watching Netflix. And whether it’s from the comfort of your couch or dining at a five-star restaurant, there’s no denying sushi’s popularity around the world.
So, what is sushi? It’s a Japanese style of food that uses fish (raw or cooked), vegetables, and is often combined with rice that’s been seasoned with vinegar. Pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce are usually served on the side.
The sushi we know today is a far cry from where it began. The original sushi was once a staple dish around various regions of Asia and was salted fish preserved in fermented rice. In fact, the word “sushi” roughly means “sour” as a nod to its fermented origins. This style of sushi was common in Japan until the end of the Edo period, when it evolved into Edomae zushi, a style of sushi closer to what we eat today. Developed by Hanaya Yohei, this sushi was larger, used fresh fish, was prepared quickly and meant to be eaten with the hands.
Contemporary sushi uses vinegared rice topped with fish, meat, and vegetables, mixing traditional and sometimes untraditional ingredients. There are a variety of styles of sushi you can order, and yes, there is a difference between Japanese-style sushi and Western-style sushi.