Japanese American Traditions
Sushi: From Practical to Trendy...The Evolution of a Culinary Treat
Once only eaten at the most special of Japanese occasions, sushi is now a frequent part of the dining experience of Americans and people of other parts of the world. People, once squeamish about the mere thought of eating raw fish, now regularly take a seat at the counter of their local sushi bar, dine on the sushi chef’s newest creations, and even brave the challenges of wasabi and chopsticks.
Of course, sushi has not always been the “hip” culinary trend that it is today. Sushi began as a practical means of preserving fish. The fish was salted and preserved on a bed of rice seasoned with vinegar. At first, the rice was discarded. However, the Japanese soon began to eat the rice with the fish and added other ingredients.
The way in which sushi has evolved over the last decade seems to highlight Japanese inventiveness and artistry. Sushi comes in many forms—nigiri sushi that has been hand-shaped and often topped with some type of fish or seafood, oshi sushi that has been pressed in molds, maki sushi that has been rolled and filled with varying ingredients, and chirashi sushi that combines ingredients with the rice.
At some restaurants, sushi is even served on a conveyor belt where prices are lower and service is faster. Other sushi chefs show off their creative flair by arranging and rolling the fillings of maki sushi to create unique forms. In these cases, the sushi becomes a veritable work of art!
If you’re still a bit skeptical about sushi and find it unlikely that you’ll ever enjoy raw fish, start with cooked ingredients and build from there. Just watching the sushi chef prepare your meal can be a culinary treat all its own!