If you are one of those people who has never tried sushi because you don’t want to eat anything raw, then keep reading. Sushi is not raw fish. Sushi really doesn’t have anything to do with fish, crab, shrimp or any of the other toppings you usually see. Sushi is about the rice. Let’s look at a brief history of Sushi.
It started back in Southeast Asia, a long long time ago. Back then, there were no refrigerators, so the people had to use other methods of preserving food, and rice was one of those. The people would take their fresh fish, clean them, then pack them with rice and leave the fish for 2-3 months. What would happen is the rice would react with the bacteria and cause fermentation to occur. This kept the “bad stuff” from growing and the fish from spoiling. After the process was complete, the rice (now a mush) would be thrown out and the fish would be eaten. At some point, the people got tired of waiting so long, so they started eating the fish sooner, before the rice had turned to mush, and found out at this point the rice could be a side dish. However, the fermentation caused the rice to have a sour taste, which is where the word Sushi (meaning “sour-taste”) came from. To speed up, and simulate the process of fermentation, the people started adding vinegar to the rice, and eventually the sour rice was a dish of it’s own, Sushi.
Fast forward to the fairly recent past, and we start to see what we know as sushi today. Slices of raw fish had already been popular in Japan, and when Sushi rice made it’s way there, the Japanese began to make pieces of Sushi topped with these slices of raw fish. This is one of the types of Sushi we know of today, and in the U.S. is probably one that most people shy away from if they have never tried it. The Sushi does not have to be topped with raw fish though. It can be topped with almost anything you like, because the Sushi is the rice, not what you top it with. Another type of Sushi that seems to be more popular now are the Sushi rolls. These are made with a thin sheet of Nori (seeweed) covered with Sushi rice, and then filled with the fillings you prefer and rolled. When Sushi was first brought to the U.S., people were not eager to eat the sushi that was made with raw fish, so the California Roll was created. Instead of raw fish, this roll was made with crab meat (cooked of course), cucumber and avocado. This appealed more to Americans and is a kind of “intro” Sushi for those who are hesitant to try it.
Now, however, the way your Sushi is created is only held back by your imagination. You can have Sushi topped with pretty much anything you like, and if you prefer the rolls, fill them with what you enjoy! I prefer crab myself, but you could have all vegetables, cream cheese, or even go wild and use things like chicken, cheese, lettuce, etc. I personally have not gone that far with it yet, but like I said, don’t limit yourself. Let your imagination, and your taste buds guide you. As long as you have Sushi rice, you have Sushi, no matter what you top it with!