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Sushi: Food As An Art Form

Updated on March 6, 2012

Sushi Galore

image by lotusutol
image by lotusutol

Sushi: Food As An Art Form

Sushi has often been referred to as Japan’s contribution to the world. There are many reasons for this: Sushi is extremely nutritional, rich in good carbohydrates (found in the rice and vegetables which are core ingredients). It is very high in protein (from the fish which is found in many of sushi’s almost countless variations) and very low in saturated fat. And its roasted seaweed wrapping is a veritable feast of healthy vitamins and minerals.

Sushi is also stunningly presented to each diner who orders it, a beautiful live picture of form and color not found in just about any other food … a culinary work of art!

By definition, sushi is “a Japanese dish consisting of thin slices of raw fish or seaweed wrapped around a cake of cooked rice.” It doesn’t sound spectacular or even particularly inviting, but for those who’ve experienced sushi it is one of the great dining experiences in the world. And yet, sushi’s origins are not Japanese.

How to Make Sushi

Here Is The Surprising History of Sushi

It is generally believed by anyone who cares that sushi is a Japanese culinary creation. That’s not true. Sushi can be traced back to China in the 4th century, A.D. At that time, long before refrigeration existed, people began salting their fish and then preserving it in fermented rice to retard and delay the spoiling process. This very early manifestation of sushi had the desired result: food was properly preserved, often for years.

Sushi, as food art, didn’t appear in Japan until the 8th century. Food preparers at that time began marrying the raw (or semi-raw) fish with the cooked rice to create a tasty food product. Over time, the process evolved and specific types of sushi found their way to dinner tables in Japanese homes.

I mentioned “semi-raw” fish. It’s important to note, especially for those who feel squeamish about consuming raw fish, that many types of sushi include cooked or semi-cooked fish or shellfish … or vegetables. You can try sushi, for the first time and enjoy its delightful and delicious taste, without ever ordering raw fish. That’s a fact.

Here’s another fact: most sushi preparations are not only high in good carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, they are also very low in calories. Visit a sushi restaurant, have the Itamae-San (expert chef) prepare some light dishes … and dine regally on stunningly few, but very delicious calories. In fact, you can consume 7 to 9 pieces of sushi and ingest as few as 350-400 calories.

Sushi Heaven

image by Zeetz Jones
image by Zeetz Jones

Sushi Madness!

image by Rami
image by Rami

There Are Four Primary Types of Sushi

Sushi lovers know that there are essentially four types of sushi “food groups” that can be ordered in any sushi bar or restaurant. All are visually stunning and taste-tempting. Popular with American diners since the late 1970s, sushi restaurants can be found in any large city or small town.

Here is what you can expect to find available if you elect to visit a sushi bar or restaurant …

· Nigiri-Sushi … this is the most popular sushi dish. It is a finger roll – a hand-pressed mound of rice with a dab of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and a slice of raw fish or shellfish or some other ingredient, such as a vegetable. Don’t be put off by the thought of “raw” fish. This presentation is amazing to look at, better to consume. In fact, the most popular Nigiri-sushi dishes are those that include maguro (raw tuna) … hamachi (yellow tail fish) … and tako (boiled octopus).

· Mako-Sushi … a popular dish, it is a sushi roll wrapped in nutritious and delicious seaweed (nori). The most frequently ordered Mako-Sushi dishes include takkamaki (raw tuna roll) … and kappamaki (cucumber roll).

· Oshi-Sushi … this “pressed” roll also features combinations of raw or semi-raw fish and shellfish or any one of an endless variety of vegetables, all beautifully prepared and presented.

· Chirashi-Sushi … this last type of sushi is the name given to a kind of “scattered” food roll. As you might expect, it’s every bit as tasty, satisfying and nutritious as the other forms of sushi … perfect as a snack or light bite … or as the start of a memorable dinner.

How to Eat Sushi

Eating Sushi

One more thought: when you dine in a sushi restaurant or sushi bar, you will be given ginger as a side dish to your primary course. The reason for this is simple: you are expected to eat a small piece of ginger between courses as a way to cleanse your palate and prepare for the next dish before it reaches your table.

Japanese sushi is not only a visual work of art and a memorable dining experience … it is also heart-healthy. Make plans to try sushi today.

By the way, if you’re really concerned about consuming raw fish, you can try the “California Roll.” Perfect for first-timers, it consists of crab, avocado and cucumber … and it is delightful … very tasty. You can even sample the “Mexican Roll.” It is stuffed with shrimp tempura, a mouth-watering treat. Get adventurous starting right now.


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