History

Sushi’s long history stretches back to ancient times in China, where fish was salted and preserved in rice for months. This very early version of sushi was dried and eaten without rice. The concept jumped to Japan around the 8th Century.

The Japanese preferred to eat the fish a little raw and, unlike in China, began to use the rice as part of the dish. This sumptuous food was known as Nare-zushi and was enjoyed exclusively by the upper classes. Gradually a method to combine the fish and rice was developed, while vinegar was added to the rice to aid a faster fermentation process.

The dish we now call sushi is said to have been invented as a form of fast food in the 19th Century by a chef called Hanaya Yohei, who started to use fresh fish.

Until the early part of the 20th Century, expert sushi chefs lived and operated almost exclusively in Tokyo. However, the Great Kanto earthquake forced them to disperse all over the country, meaning sushi spread suddenly across the whole country. It has been spreading across the world ever since!

SUSHI GUIDE

  • Nigiri
    (lit. hand-formed) is a simple, traditional, oblong-shaped sushi, usually using only two ingredients: sushi rice and a slice of fish, omelet or vegetable as a topping.

  • Maki
    (large or “fat” rolls), rolls with two or more fillings wrapped in rice and nori seaweed sheet. In traditional maki the nori seaweed sheet goes on the outside of the rice, but we also sell the popular uramaki (lit. inside-out roll) style, where rice forms the outside of the roll, often coated with sesame seeds, diced chive or brightly coloured fish roe.

  • Temaki
    (lit. hand roll) sliced fillings with rice, wrapped in a conical nori seaweed sheet wrap.

Sushi Etiquette

There are all kinds of rules and traditions when it comes to eating sushi. Chez Sushi respects these traditions but at the same time encourages customers to enjoy their sushi in whatever style they feel most comfortable.
Here are some of the main traditions or rules of etiquette regarding eating sushi:

  • When dipping nigiri sushi in soy sauce, just dip the fish, not the rice, otherwise the sushi may fall to pieces.
  • Nigiri sushi should be eaten in one bite (if possible!) to avoid the rice breaking up into pieces.
  • It is not rude to eat sushi with your fingers – using chopsticks or your fingers are both perfectly acceptable.
  • A strict sushi meal should start with fish of a more delicate taste, such as sea bream, moving towards  meatier flavours such as salmon, right up to the strongest tastes like tuna or sea urchin.
  • The mixing of wasabi and soy sauce has become common in the west, but in Japan it is rarely seen. This  is partly because wasabi is carefully added to nigiri sushi by the chef in Japan, so there is normally no need  to add extra spice.
  • If a friend offers a piece of sushi from their plate, it is polite to pick it up with the opposite end of the  chopsticks to the end that you put in your mouth.
  • Use a plate to pass a piece of sushi to a dining companion, not your own chopsticks. Using chopsticks  would be reminiscent of the traditional Japanese ritual of passing the bones of a deceased relative at  a funeral.
  • Ginger is supposed to be eaten between pieces of sushi, as it cleanses the palate, rather than at the same time.

Sushi FACTS

  • In Japan, sushi is enjoyed by families when celebrating special occasions.
  • Sushi chefs in Japan can undergo up to 10 years of training to become fully qualified.
  • Knives used by sushi chefs have their origins in Samurai swords.
  • In Japan, octopus is sometimes prepared by giving it a thorough massage while it is still alive.
  • Sushi chefs believe that people eat not only with their mouths, but also their eyes, which is why the  presentation and appearance of sushi is so important.
  • Sushi is commonly eaten with gari (pickled ginger), wasabi and with a cup of green tea as they all  complement raw fish perfectly.
  • Wasabi itself is used as a spice, but its properties also mean it is able to help sterilise and kill the smell  of raw fish. This was particularly helpful in older times before simple refrigeration.

Sushi NUTRITION

The Japanese diet is often seen as a particularly healthy way of eating. Here are a few details of the nutritional properties present in the different kinds of Japanese food available at Chez Sushi.

  • Fish is high in protein and – especially compared with meat – low in fat.
  • Most fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. These are believed by scientists and nutritionists to be vital to  our diet as they are not independently produced by the human body. They have a great number of  health benefits.
  • Studies into Omega-3 fatty acids suggest that their consumption can help in many areas, including: helping  to guard against Alzheimer’s disease; lowering blood pressure; helping to maintain the central nervous  system and helping to moderate blood sugar levels.
  • Edamame beans, a favourite of many Wasabi customers, have been hailed as a ‘superfood’, rich in amino
    acids, fibre, protein and Vitamin C.
  • Seaweed, popular in Wasabi salads, is believed to have many benefits, ranging from maintaining healthy  skin, nails and hair to reducing the risk of cancer.
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