Sushi, as you may already know, is a wildly popular Japanese food eaten all over the world. It has exploded in popularity over the last couple of decades in North America, and the variations that exist are limitless: black rice sushi, rice crispy sushi, octopus sushi, cucumber-wrapped sushi, and even sushi burgers. However, thinking about it now, I know little to nothing about the origins of sushi. Where in the world did it originate? Who created this simple yet delicious dish? How did it spread to America?
This month’s theme is “We Are the World,” and as Briana, one of Germ’s editors, so nicely puts it, “…this month is the perfect time to start opening our eyes to the world around us.” I couldn’t agree more. I am on a mission to find out more about the origins of a food I am so very fond of: sushi.
The evolution of sushi began long ago. Originating in Southeast Asia in the 8th century, sushi was developed as a way to preserve fish and meat without refrigeration. Who knew? To do so, the fish or meat was wrapped in rice to maintain its freshness and allow for fermentation. Several months later, people would discard the rice and only eat the fish or meat inside. This method of preservation eventually spread throughout China and Japan, where fish was sold as a food staple. In the early 17th century, people began seasoning rice with rice wine vinegar to aid in the fermentation process. Thus, it was possible to eat the rice and what was inside. This created sushi as we know it.
Centuries later, due to the advancement of refrigeration and transportation, fish could be shipped to foreign places, and the demand for sushi soon erupted. Sushi’s first stop in America was Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. This is where the sushi craze began. This restaurant quickly gained popularity and was soon adopted by Western culture. Before long, Japanese restaurants started opening up all over the city, state, and country. By the 1980s, sushi was a full-blown fad.
Today, sushi holds a permanent spot in our hearts… and mouths. It is a favored cuisine eaten all over North America. Served in Japanese restaurants, cafeterias, and grocery stores, sushi is continuously evolving with new ingredients, flavors, and preparation and serving methods. Now, for my own spin on sushi…
- 1 cup of black rice
- 2 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 4 sheets of nori (seaweed)
- 1 cup of chopped veggies of your choice
1. Rinse the rice using a strainer.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and rice and bring to a boil.
3. Once boiling, bring the heat down to low and cover with a lid until the water is completely absorbed. This should take approximately 30 minutes.
4. In the meantime, combine the vinegar, coconut sugar, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat over low while stirring occasionally until the sugar and salt dissolves.
5. Place this mixture in a small bowl and allow to cool in the fridge until the rice is ready.
6. While waiting for the rice to cook, chop your veggies of choice into thin slices.
7. Once the rice absorbs all the water, turn the heat off and stir the vinegar mixture with the rice. The rice should be sticky.
8. Over the top of a flat surface, lay down a sheet of nori and cover it with a thin layer of rice using a wet spoon. Ensure that you leave a little bit of space along the edges of the nori.
9. Lay out your veggies in a line at the bottom 3/4 of the rice closest to where you will begin rolling your sushi.
10. Tightly roll the nori over the veggies with your hands. With pressure, continue to roll the nori.
11. Once it is all the way rolled, dab your fingers with water to “seal” the nori together.
12. Wet a sharp knife and cut your sushi into appropriately sized pieces.
13. Repeat this process until all of your rice is used up.
14. Grab your chopsticks and eat!