Maki Sushi: How the authentic Japanese sushi began
How much do you know about Japanese sushi? Find out all you need to know about Japanese sushi right here at Maki Sushi! This in-depth guide to your favourite Japanese meal can help you appreciate the dish more.
Sushi can be regarded as one of the most popular dishes in the world. Many people from all walks of life enjoy this cultural dish that originated from Japan. Some countries even developed their own version and added their twists to the well-acclaimed dish.
The sushi you have eaten may not be similar to its original form but it still is the product of cultural fusion and evolution over the millennia of its existence. Know more about the history of this traditional Japanese dish below!
How sushi started
When talking about this dish, most people would attribute it to sticky rice, seaweed, and fresh fish. It sounds so simple at first but sushi is actually a complex dish. The majority of sushi chefs had to train for years or even decades just to perfect the process of making the dish.
Despite the many changes the world has undergone in the past millennia, sushi has remained resilient. The process of making this delicacy was passed down from one generation to the next which helped maintain its cultural roots.
However, sushi didn’t exactly originate from Japan. Contrary to popular belief, this delicacy actually came from its neighbouring country, China. The first appearance of sushi can be dated back to 4th century China. Back then, the dish was called narezushi and it’s prepared differently than how it’s done today.
In China, narezushi was prepared by fermenting the fish with rice through a pickling process. Because ancient times didn’t have refrigeration, they had to resort to fermentation to preserve their food. This process prevents the food from growing bacteria and lethal microorganisms so that they can store fishes for as long as they can.
The signature sticky rice that sushi has today wasn’t a part of the original narezushi presentation. The ancient Chinese threw the fermented rice after the process and only ate the fish. It wasn’t until the 8th century that the dish reached Japan.
As Japan realized the potential of narezushi, the delicacy started to change. The ancient Japanese took the process further and decided the fermented rice can also be a part of this dish. By the 18th century, sushi restaurants sprang in the country’s major cities.
After a hundred years, sushi evolved even further into what the world knows it today. A man named Hanaya Yohei changed the game for the sushi process. He no longer wraps fermented rice around the fish. Instead, he placed the fish on top of seasoned sticky rice and called it nigiri sushi.
From there, sushi has evolved into an artful dining experience beyond what it traditionally was thousands of years ago. The dish has undergone a lot of changes and cultural fusion from other parts of the world. Although it has a more modern appeal today, sushi is still one of the best Japanese dishes in the world.
Changes and variations on the traditional sushi dish are bound to happen during its lifetime. For over a millennia, hundreds of sushi dishes have been developed both by the Japanese and modern cultural fusion chefs.
- Nigiri Sushi – Arguably one of the most popular sushi variants in Japan and it’s made with small rice balls mixed with seafood ingredients such as fish, shellfish, shrimp, eel, squid, octopus, among others. Its name translates to ‘hand-pressed’ sushi which suggests that it’s traditionally prepared that way.
- Gunkan-Maki Sushi – Its flavourful taste makes it one of the most popular sushi variants within and outside Japan. Westerners love this because it’s prepared by putting nori seaweed on top of the rice. Moreover, fish and vegetables are added before the sushi is rolled up and cut to pieces.
You can put a variety of ingredients in your maki such as:
- Philadelphia cheese
- Japanese amberjack
- Norimaki – It’s often referred to as the ‘inside out’ sushi because the rice holds all the ingredients together instead of traditional nori seaweed. This sushi variant is popular among foreigners that visit Japan as well as western countries.
- Temaki – In its simplest description, Temaki is the taco of sushi. The rice is wrapped with a nori seaweed cone and mixed with a variety of seafood and vegetables. There are a lot of ways to prepare this sushi but its biggest selling point is its appearance.
- Chirashizushi – This variant is one of the most unconventional types on the list because it isn’t prepared by the usual rolling process. Instead, it’s done by topping a large bowl of sushi rice with seafood, mushrooms, and vegetables. The dish can be likened to a standard rice bowl but with sushi ingredients.
- Inari-zushi – It can be considered as the vegetarian version of sushi because the fish is replaced with tofu. The sushi dish is mostly prepared by filling small bags of deep-fried tofu with sushi rice and nori seaweed.
- Oshizushi – The name of this sushi dish literally means ‘box of sushi’ to represent how it is traditionally made. Sushi chefs often press the rice and fish into a wooden box called oshibako to create its square shape. It’s then cut up to small bite-sized pieces before it’s served to the customers.
- Narezushi – For sushi enthusiasts, tasting narezushi is one of the best experiences life has to offer. This sushi variant resembles the way it was traditionally prepared during ancient Chinese and Japanese times. The fish is fermented in vinegar rice and is left for a few days to process. Once it’s finished the rice is discarded and is served on the table for consumption.
- Makizushi – It’s quite similar to how the gunkan maki is prepared. A strip of nori seaweed, rice, and various sushi ingredients are combined together before hand pressing the dish and rolling it up. Once that’s done, it’s cut into pieces and served on the table.
Modernized western sushi
Sushi took the world by a storm decades ago. It exploded in popularity especially in western cuisine because it was delicious and one of a kind. As the years go by, even other cultures developed their own version of sushi with ingredients available in the local market and thus new breeds of the delicacy were born!
- California Maki – As the name suggests, it was created in California as a homage to sushi. Nowadays, many people all over the world enjoy this dish made with nori seaweed, sushi rice, avocado, imitation crab, cucumber, and flying fish roe. It’s also an inside-out type of sushi wherein the rice holds all the ingredients together.
- Tempura roll – Shrimp is arguably one of the most-loved seafood in the world and it’s not surprising that it’ll be incorporated into a western variation of sushi. Although sushi is known for raw fish, the tempura roll is made with deep-fried shrimp mixed with sushi rice, nori seaweed, avocado, and cucumber.
- Spicy tuna roll – Western cuisine took sushi making to the next level by incorporating spicy tuna into the mix! This dish is done similarly to the usual sushi but instead of raw fish, it’s made with a cooked tuna mixed with spiced up Japanese mayo. It’s an interesting take to the dish but every bite is surely delicious
- Dragon roll – This sushi variation is quite similar to the tempura roll. However, the tempura here is sliced into smaller pieces to make it more bite-sized. It’s a mix of shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, and well-seasoned sushi rice. What makes the dish special is that it’s topped with avocado slices which adds to the flavours of the dish. It’s also drizzled with spicy Japanese mayo and unagi sauce.
- Spider roll – Western cuisine’s own spin to sushi is to add deep-fried seafood into the mix. For this sushi variant, instead of raw fish, they made use of fried soft-shell crabs mixed with cucumber, avocado, daikon sprouts, and roe that’s wrapped in nori seaweed. It’s served with a dash of spicy Japanese mayo for an extra kick.
Visit Maki Sushi today!
If this article made you crave sushi, head on down to Maki Sushi and order a generous plate today! It’s located at the heart of Wickstead Avenue in Toronto, Canada and is easily accessible through car or public transportation.
You can order all the varieties of sushi mentioned above at our restaurant. Rest assured that all the ingredients we use are fresh and certified sushi-grade to offer you a complete and authentic experience.
For reservations, you can contact us through the official channels on our homepage. There’s a website form that you can answer that will directly send your query to our system. Moreover, you can also call us on our hotline number: 416-6996-12258. One of our staff will happily answer your call and guide you through your queries.