Sushi (, , , , , ?) is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice (shari) combined with other ingredients (neta). Neta and forms of sushi presentation vary, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is shari. The most common neta is seafood.
Raw meat sliced and served by itself is sashimi.
The original type of sushi, known today as nare-zushi (, ), was first developed in Southeast Asia, spread to south China before introduction to Japan. The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts; literally, sushi means "sour-tasting", a reflection of its historic fermented roots.
The vinegar produced from fermenting rice breaks down the fish proteins into amino acids. This results in one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese. The oldest form of sushi in Japan, narezushi, still very closely resembles this process. In Japan, narezushi evolved into oshizushi and ultimately Edomae nigirizushi, which is what the world today knows as "sushi".
Contemporary Japanese sushi has little resemblance to the traditional lacto-fermented rice dish. Originally, when the fermented fish was taken out of the rice, only the fish was consumed and the fermented rice was discarded. The strong-tasting and smelling funazushi, a kind of narezushi made near Lake Biwa in Japan, resembles the traditional fermented dish. Beginning in the Muromachi period (AD 13361573) of Japan, vinegar was added to the mixture for better taste and preservation. The vinegar accentuated the rice's sourness and was known to increase its shelf life, allowing the fermentation process to be shortened and eventually abandoned. In the following centuries, sushi in Osaka evolved into oshi-zushi. The seafood and rice were pressed using wooden (usually bamboo) molds. By the mid 18th century, this form of sushi had reached Edo (contemporary Tokyo).
The contemporary version, internationally known as "sushi", was created by Hanaya Yohei (; 17991858) at the end of the Edo period in Edo. The sushi invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented (therefore prepared quickly) and could be eaten with one's hands at a roadside or in a theatre. Originally, this sushi was known as Edomae zushi because it used freshly caught fish in the Edo-mae (Edo Bay or Tokyo Bay). Though the fish used in modern sushi no longer usually comes from Tokyo Bay, it is still formally known as Edomae nigirizushi.
The common ingredient across all the different kinds of sushi is sushi rice. The variety in sushi arises from the different fillings and toppings, condiments, and their preparation. The same ingredients may be assembled in a traditional or a contemporary way, creating a very different final result.[ In spelling sushi its first letter s is replaced with z when a prefix is attached, as in nigirizushi, due to consonant mutation called rendaku in Japanese.
Chirashizushi (?, "scattered sushi") is a bowl of sushi rice topped with a variety of sashimi and garnishes (also refers to barazushi). Edomae chirashizushi (Edo-style scattered sushi) is an uncooked ingredient that is arranged artfully on top of the sushi rice in a bowl. Gomokuzushi (Kansai-style sushi) are cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed in the body of rice in a bowl. There is no set formula for the ingredients and they are either chef's choice or sometimes specified by the customer. It is commonly eaten because it is filling, fast and easy to make. Chirashizushi often varies regionally. It is eaten annually on Hinamatsuri in March.
Inarizushi (?) is a pouch of fried tofu filled with usually just sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, who is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. The pouch is normally fashioned as deep-fried tofu (, abura age). Regional variations include pouches made of a thin omelette (, fukusa-zushi or , chakin-zushi). It should not be confused with inari maki, which is a roll filled with flavored fried tofu. A very large version, sweeter than normal and often containing bits of carrot, is popular in Hawaii, where it is called "cone sushi".
Makizushi (?, "rolled sushi"), Norimaki (?, "Nori roll") or makimono (?, "variety of rolls") is a cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat, called a makisu (). Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori (seaweed), but can occasionally be found wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber, or parsley. Makizushi is usually cut into six or eight pieces, which constitutes a single roll order. Below are some common types of makizushi, but many other kinds exist.
Futomaki (?, "thick, large or fat rolls") is a large cylindrical piece, with nori on the outside. A typical futomaki is three or four centimeters (1.5in) in diameter. They are often made with two or three fillings that are chosen for their complementary tastes and colors. During the Setsubun festival, it is traditional in Kansai to eat uncut futomaki in its cylindrical form, where it is particularly called ehou-maki (, lit. happy direction rolls). Futomaki is often vegetarian, but may include non-vegetarian toppings such as tiny fish roe and chopped tuna.
Hosomaki (?, "thin rolls") is a small cylindrical piece, with the nori on the outside. A typical hosomaki has a diameter of about two centimeters (0.75in). They generally contain only one filling, often tuna, cucumber, kanpy, thinly sliced carrots, or, more recently, avocado. Kappamaki, () a kind of Hosomaki filled with cucumber, is named after the Japanese legendary water imp fond of cucumbers called the kappa. Traditionally, Kappamaki is consumed to clear the palate between eating raw fish and other kinds of food, so that the flavors of the fish are distinct from the tastes of other foods. Tekkamaki () is a kind of Hosomaki filled with raw tuna. Although some believe that the name "Tekka", meaning 'red hot iron', alludes to the color of the tuna flesh or salmon flesh, it actually originated as a quick snack to eat in gambling dens called "Tekkaba ()", much like the sandwich. Negitoromaki () is a kind of Hosomaki filled with scallion (negi) and chopped tuna (toro). Fatty tuna is often used in this style. Tsunamayomaki () is a kind of Hosomaki filled with canned tuna tossed with mayonnaise.
Temaki (?, "hand rolls") is a large cone-shaped piece of nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about ten centimeters (4in) long, and is eaten with fingers because it is too awkward to pick it up with chopsticks. For optimal taste and texture, Temaki must be eaten quickly after being made because the nori cone soon absorbs moisture from the filling and loses its crispness and becomes somewhat difficult to bite. For this reason, the nori in pre-made or take-out temaki is sealed in plastic film which is removed immediately prior to consumption.
Uramaki (?, "inside-out rolls") is a medium-sized cylindrical piece, with two or more fillings. Uramaki differs from other makimono because the rice is on the outside and the nori inside. The filling is in the center surrounded by nori, then a layer of rice, and an outer coating of some other ingredients such as roe or toasted sesame seeds. It can be made with different fillings such as tuna, crab meat, avocado, mayonnaise, cucumber, carrots. Uramaki has not been so popular in Japan and most of makimono is not uramaki because it is easy to hold makimono with nori skin by fingers. However, since some Western people dislike the black impression of makimono with nori skin, uramaki has become more popular in Western countries than nori-skinned makimono.
Narezushi (?, "matured sushi") is a traditional form of fermented sushi. Skinned and gutted fish are stuffed with salt, placed in a wooden barrel, doused with salt again, then weighed down with a heavy tsukemonoishi (pickling stone). As days pass, water seeps out and is removed. After six months this funazushi can be eaten, remaining edible for another six months or more.
Nigirizushi (?, "hand-formed sushi") consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that the chef presses into a small rectangular box between the palms of the hands, usually with a bit of wasabi, and a topping (the neta) draped over it. Neta are typically fish such as salmon, tuna or other seafood. Certain toppings are typically bound to the rice with a thin strip of nori, most commonly octopus (tako), freshwater eel (unagi), sea eel (anago), squid (ika), and sweet egg (tamago). When ordered separately, nigiri is generally served in pairs. A sushi set (a sampler dish) may contain only one piece of each topping.
Gunkanmaki (?, "warship roll") is a special type of nigirizushi: an oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice that has a strip of "nori" wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel that is filled with some soft, loose or fine-chopped ingredient that requires the confinement of nori such as roe, natto, oysters, sea urchin, corn with mayonnaise, and quail eggs. Gunkan-maki was invented at the Ginza Kyubey restaurant in 1931; its invention significantly expanded the repertoire of soft toppings used in sushi.
Temarizushi (?, "ball sushi") is a ball-shaped sushi made by pressing rice and fish into a ball-shaped form by hand using a plastic wrap. They are quite easy to make and thus a good starting point for beginners.[
Oshizushi (?, "pressed sushi"), also known as hako-zushi (?, "box sushi"), is a pressed sushi from the Kansai Region, a favourite and specialty of Osaka. A block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold, called an oshibako. The chef lines the bottom of the oshibako with the toppings, covers them with sushi rice, and then presses the lid of the mold down to create a compact, rectilinear block. The block is removed from the mold and then cut into bite-sized pieces. Particularly famous is battera (?, pressed mackerel sushi) or saba zushi (?).
Roll-style Western sushi
The increasing popularity of sushi around the world has resulted in variations typically found in North America and Europe, but rarely in Japan. Such creations to suit the Western palate were initially fueled by the invention of the California roll. A wide variety of popular rolls has evolved since. Though the menu names of dishes often vary by restaurant, some examples include:
a variant of the California roll with raw salmon in the inside, or layered on the outside.
a rainbow roll is a California roll with typically 6-7 types of sashimi (yellowtail, tuna, salmon, snapper, white fish, eel, etc) and avocado wrapped around it.
consists of cucumber, avocado, and raw or smoked salmon.
includes fried soft shell crab and other fillings such as cucumber, avocado, daikon sprouts or lettuce, roe, and sometimes spicy mayonnaise.
consists of fried grouper, onion, and mayonnaise.
Other rolls may include chopped scallops, spicy tuna, beef or chicken teriyaki roll, okra, and assorted vegetables such as cucumber and avocado. Sometimes, sushi rolls are made with brown rice and black rice, which appear in Japanese cuisine as well. An inside out roll allows the consumer to drape sashimi on top of the entire roll. Examples include the Rainbow Roll (an inside out topped with thinly sliced maguro, hamachi, ebi, sake and avocado) and the Caterpillar Roll (an inside out topped with thinly sliced avocado). Also commonly found is the Rock and Roll (an inside out roll with barbecued freshwater eel and avocado with toasted sesame seeds on the outside) and the Tempura roll where shrimp tempura is in the roll or an entire roll is battered and fried tempura style.
All sushi has a base of specially prepared rice, complemented with other ingredients.
Shari (also called gohan , sushi-meshi, or su-meshi ) is a preparation of white, short-grained, Japanese rice mixed with a dressing consisting of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and occasionally kombu and sake. It has to be cooled to room temperature before being used for a filling in a sushi or else it will get too sticky while being seasoned. Traditionally, the mixing is done with a hangiri, which is a round, flat-bottom wooden tub or barrel, and a wooden paddle (shamoji).
Sushi rice is prepared with short-grain Japanese rice, which has a consistency that differs from long-grain strains such as those from India, Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The essential quality is its stickiness or glutinousness. Freshly harvested rice (shinmai) typically contains too much water, and requires extra time to drain the rice cooker after washing. In some fusion cuisine restaurants, short grain brown rice and wild rice are also used.
There are regional variations in sushi rice and, of course, individual chefs have their individual methods. Most of the variations are in the rice vinegar dressing: the Kanto region (or East Japan) version of the dressing commonly uses more salt; in Kansai region (or West Japan), the dressing has more sugar.
The black seaweed wrappers used in makimono are called nori. Nori is a type of algae, traditionally cultivated in the harbors of Japan. Originally, algae was scraped from dock pilings, rolled out into thin, edible sheets, and dried in the sun, in a process similar to making rice paper. Whereas in Japan, nori may never be toasted before being used in food, many brands found in the U.S. reach drying temperatures above 108 F (42C).
Today, the commercial product is farmed, processed, toasted, packaged, and sold in standard-size sheets about 18 by 21 centimetres (7.1 by 8.3 in). Higher quality nori is thick, smooth, shiny, green, and has no holes. When stored for several months, nori sheets can change color to dark green-brownish.
The standard size of a whole nori sheet mentioned above influences the size of maki-mono. A full size sheet produces futomaki, and a half produces hosomaki and temaki. To produce gunkan and some other makimono, an appropriately sized piece of nori is cut from a whole sheet.
When making fukusazushi, a paper-thin omelette may replace a sheet of nori as the wrapping. The omelette is traditionally made on a rectangular omelette pan (makiyakinabe), and used to form the pouch for the rice and fillings.
Yaki Anago-Ippon-Nigiri (). A roasted and sweet sauced whole conger.
Main article: List of sushi and sashimi ingredients
For culinary, sanitary, and aesthetic reasons, fish eaten raw must be fresher and of higher quality than fish which is cooked. The FDA recommends that raw fish be frozen before being consumed, as this will kill all parasites (but not all harmful microorganisms). Professional sushi chefs are trained to recognize important attributes, including smell, color, firmness, and freedom from parasites that may go undetected in commercial inspection. Commonly-used fish are tuna (maguro, shiro-maguro), Japanese amberjack, yellowtail (hamachi), snapper (kurodai), mackerel (saba), and salmon (sake). The most valued sushi ingredient is toro, the fatty cut of the fish. This comes in a variety of toro (often from the bluefin species of tuna) and chtoro, meaning middle toro, implying that it is halfway into the fattiness between toro and the regular cut. Aburi style refers to nigiri sushi where the fish is partially grilled (topside) and partially raw. Most nigiri sushi will be completely raw.
Other seafoods such as squid (ika), eel (anago and unagi), pike conger (hamo), octopus (tako), shrimp (ebi and amaebi), clam (mirugai, aoyagi and akagai), fish roe (ikura, masago, kazunoko and tobiko), sea urchin (uni), crab (kani), and various kinds of shellfish (abalone, prawn, scallop) are the most popular seafoods in sushi. Oysters, however, are less common, as the taste is not thought to go well with the rice. Kani kama, or imitation crab stick, is commonly substituted for real crab, most notably in California rolls.
Pickled daikon radish (takuan) in shinko maki, pickled vegetables (tsukemono), fermented soybeans (natt) in natt maki, avocado, cucumber in kappa maki, asparagus, yam, pickled ume (umeboshi), gourd (kanpy), burdock (gobo), and sweet corn (possibly mixed with mayonnaise) are also used in sushi.
Date-Maki (). Futomaki wrapped with sweet-tamagoyaki.
Sushi is commonly eaten with condiments. Sushi may be dipped in shyu, soy sauce, and may be flavored with wasabi, a piquant paste made from the grated root of the Wasabia japonica plant. However, some consider the use of condiments with sushi to be an implication that the chef's original preparation was inadequate. True wasabi has anti-microbial properties and may reduce the risk of food poisoning. The traditional grating tool for wasabi is a sharkskin grater or samegawa oroshi. An imitation wasabi (seiyo-wasabi), made from horseradish, mustard powder and green dye is common. It is found at lower-end kaiten zushi restaurants, in bento box sushi and at most restaurants outside of Japan. If manufactured in Japan, it may be labelled "Japanese Horseradish".
Gari (sweet, pickled ginger) is eaten with sushi to both cleanse the palate and aid in digestion. In Japan, green tea (ocha) is invariably served together with sushi. Better sushi restaurants often use a distinctive premium tea known as mecha. In sushi vocabulary, green tea is known as agari.
The main ingredients of traditional Japanese sushi, raw fish and rice, are naturally low in fat, high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. The same may not be said categorically of Western-style sushi, which increasingly features non-traditional ingredients such as mayonnaise, avocado, and cream cheese.
Most seafood is naturally low in fat, with fats found in seafood predominately being unsaturated and thus containing relatively high levels of Omega-3. Since sushi is often served raw, no cooking fat is introduced during its preparation. Some non-traditional ingredients such as cream cheese and mayonnaise that are sometimes found in Western-style sushi dishes can add significant amounts of fat to a traditionally lean dish.
Fish, tofu, seafood, egg, and many other sushi fillings, contain high levels of protein. Imitation meat such as krab stick may be lower in protein and other nutrition than their natural, unprocessed counterparts.
Vitamins and minerals are found in much of the seafood and vegetables used for sushi. The nutritional content is dependent on the ingredients used. For example, shrimp is high in calcium and iodine, whereas salmon is rich in Vitamin D. The gari and nori used to make sushi are rich in both nutrients. Other vegetables wrapped within the sushi also offer various vitamins and minerals.
Carbohydrates are found in the rice and the vegetables. Certain non-traditional ingredients can raise the carbohydrate level quite high, as with the fat level.
Some large fish, such as tuna (especially bluefin), can harbor high levels of mercury. This is due to the tuna's position at the top of the food chain (among sea creatures). Thus, tuna can lead to mercury poisoning when consumed in quantity. The FDA recommends, for certain groups (women who might get pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children), eating a maximum of 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish.
Parasite infection by raw fish involves mainly three kinds of parasites: Clonorchis sinensis (a trematode/fluke), Anisakis (a nematode/roundworm) and Diphyllobothrium (a cestode/tapeworm). Infection risk of anisakis is particularly higher in fish which may live in a river such as salmon (shake) in Salmonidae, and mackerel (saba). Such parasite infections can generally be avoided by boiling, burning, preserving in salt or vinegar, or freezing overnight.
For the above reasons, the EU regulation No 853/2004w 20 C in all parts of the product for no less than 24 hours.
Some forms of sushi, notably those containing pufferfish fugu and some kinds of shellfish, can cause severe poisoning if not prepared properly. Particularly, fugu has a lethal dose of tetrodotoxin in its internal organs and must be prepared by a licensed fugu chef who has passed the prefectural examination in Japan. The licensing examination process consists of a written test, a fish-identification test, and a practical test, preparing and eating the fish. Only about 35 percent of the applicants pass, and in rare cases, death results. The Emperor of Japan is forbidden to eat fugu, as it is considered too risky.
Traditionally, sushi is served on minimalist Japanese-style, geometric, mono- or duo-tone wood or lacquer plates, in keeping with the aesthetic qualities of this cuisine.
Many sushi restaurants offer fixed-price sets, selected by the chef from the catch of the day. These are often graded as sh-chiku-bai (), sh/matsu (, pine), chiku/take (, bamboo) and bai/ume (, ume), with matsu the most expensive and ume the cheapest.
In Japan, and increasingly abroad, sushi is served kaiten zushi (sushi train) style. Color coded plates of sushi are placed on a conveyor belt; as the belt passes customers choose as they please. After finishing, the bill is tallied by counting how many plates of each color have been taken. Newer kaiten zushi restaurants use barcodes or RFID tags embedded in the dishes to bill automatically and manage elapsed time after the item was prepared.
Some specialized or slang terms are used in the sushi culture. Most of these terms are used only in sushi bars.
"Hch" Japanese kitchen knives, Hch is an important element which determines the taste of sushi.
Unlike sashimi, which is almost always eaten with chopsticks, nigirizushi is traditionally eaten with the fingers, even in formal settings. While it is commonly served on a small platter with a side dish for dipping, sushi can also be served in a bento, a box with small compartments that hold the various dishes of the meal.
Soy sauce is the usual condiment, and sushi is normally served with a small sauce dish, or a compartment in the bento. Traditional etiquette suggests that the sushi is turned over so that only the topping is dipped; this is because the soy sauce is for flavoring the topping, not the rice, and because the rice would absorb too much soy sauce and would fall apart. If it is difficult to turn the sushi upside-down then one can baste the sushi in soy sauce using gari (sliced ginger) as a brush. Toppings which have their own sauce (such as eel) should not be eaten with soy sauce.
Traditionally, the sushi chef will add an appropriate amount of wasabi to the sushi while preparing it, and etiquette suggests eating the sushi as is, since the chef is supposed to know the proper amount of wasabi to use. However, today wasabi is more a matter of personal taste, and even restaurants in Japan may serve wasabi on the side for customers to use at their discretion, even when there is wasabi already in the roll. If wasabi is added by the diner, it should be applied to the topping using chopsticks, and then the sushi picked up and dipped in soy sauce. The wasabi should not be mixed with the soy sauce, as this dulls the flavor of the wasabi. (This is different from sashimi, where they should be mixed because it is too difficult to apply wasabi to the sashimi.)
In practice, many peopleparticularly Westerners, both in Japan and abroadignore the traditional sushi eating methods. It is common to see diners mixing large amounts of wasabi into their soy dish and dunking the rice straight into it. Further, not all sushi is created the same; traditional nigirizushi is made so that the entire piece can be consumed in one bite, and etiquette considers this the correct way to eat it. However, some chefs may include too much rice or too much topping, making it difficult for some people to fit an entire piece in their mouth, so that two bites or more must be taken.
Bamboo rolling mat
Wooden rice paddle
Rectangular omelette pan
a mold used to make oshizushi
Edomae Nigiri 
Ebi Nigiri Sushi 
Salmon Nigiri 
Toro (fatty tuna belly) Nigiri 
Salmon roll 
Kakinoha (Persimmon leaf) Sushi 
Chakin-Sushi, wrapped by thin omelette. 
Sushi plate 
Ikura gunkan-maki 
Sasa (Bamboo leaf) Sushi 
Unagi (teriyaki-roasted freshwater eel) Sushi 
Nigirizushi for sale at a supermarket in Tokyo
Assorted sushi 
Assorted Western Sushi 
Western California Roll and Tuna Roll in Uramaki 
Western Spicy Tuna Hand Roll 
Western Spicy Shrimp Roll 
Salmon Sushi next to a meal of a vegetarian sushi