The Sushi Blog

Few foods have captivated Americans quite like sushi has.

According to World Book Online, opens a new window, the origins of sushi date back to 2nd century AD China, where fish was packed with rice and salt for preservation. The rice and salt both helped to absorb moisture away from the fish, allowing it to be stored and edible for months, in the right conditions. The food made its way to Japan by the 7th century. Although the Chinese allegedly ate only the fish portion and discarded the rice, the inhabitants of Japan were quite content to eat both.

In its modern understanding, sushi refers the specific kind of rice used in the making of it; rice that has been soaked in vinegar. In Japanese, raw fish by itself is called sashimi, and various meals that include rice are called sushi, such as maki sushi and nigiri sushi. Modern sushi was possibly invented in the 19th century by chef Hanaya Yohei.

In fact, readers may be surprised to learn that sushi reached Western audiences well before World War 2; by 1906, restaurants serving sushi could be found in Los Angeles, California. Before even that date, numerous Japanese citizens immigrated to the United States, ever since the Meiji period of Japan and the forceful opening of Japan to international commerce and diplomacy after the visit of Matthew Perry. President Grant once dined on sashimi well while in office, and recipes for sushi already existed in exotic cookbooks of the time.

Following World War 2 and the warming of relations between Japan and the United States, sushi again became popular, and was nationally recognized by the 1970s. The 1980s brought a boom period to Japanese chefs and restaurant owners (along with those of many other ethnicities, frankly) and dedicated sushi restaurants became quite popular. Today, most cities have a handful of sushi bars, on top of a smattering of Chinese, Vietnamese, and other cuisines also offering sushi on their menus.

There is also the misconception that all sushi consists of raw fish. While it is true that most sushi does contain 'raw' fish, there are many kinds that use cooked ingredients as well. Additionally, the 'raw' fish that is used to make sushi is of a special quality, called 'sushi-grade'. While the term does have some ambiguity behind it, it generally refers to fish that have been specially caught and prepared to have negligible deterioration on the quality, typically being thoroughly cleaned and/or flash frozen to kill germs and parasites. 

Sushi chefs today are an incredibly talented and creative lot, using a variety of both traditional and innovative ingredients to feed and entertain their guests.

Here are some relevant items:

Simply Sushi


The Connoisseur's Guide to Sushi

Sushi at Home

The Best 50 Sushi Rolls

Atsuko's Japanese Kitchen

And for the kids:

Foods of Japan

Food and Recipes of Japan

Want to learn more about sushi and Japanese cuisine? Feel free to check out some of our Databases!:

A-to-Z Foods America, opens a new window

A-to-Z World Food, opens a new window

Leave us a comment about your preferred sushi restaurant if you have one!