Sushi is a widely-known Japanese food which is consisted of cooked vinegared rice (called 'shari') combined with other ingredients (called 'neta'), which is usually raw fish or other types of seafood. Neta and other forms of sushi presentation can vary, but the ingredient that all sushi has in all sushi have in common is vinegared rice which is called sushi-meshi.
The raw meat that is sliced and served by itself is called 'sashimi'.
History of SushiEdit
The original type of sushi that is known today as 'nare-zushi' was developed first in Southeast Asia, quite possibly along what is now known as the Mekong River, and then spread to southern China before it's introduction to Japan. The term sushi stems from the archaic grammatical form which is no longer used in other contexts; literally sushi means "sour-tasting", a reflection of it's historic fermented roots. The oldest form of sushi in Japan, called 'narezushi', still closely resembles this process; the fish is fermented by being wrapped in soured fermenting rice, the fish proteins will break down by the fermentation into it's constituent amino acids, and the fermenting rice and fish result in a sour taste and also one of the five basic tastes, which is called 'umami' in Japanese. In Japan, narezushi eventually evolved into oshizushi and ultimately into Edomae nigirizushi, which is what the world now knows as "sushi".
Contemporary Japanese sushi has little-to-no resemblance to the traditional lacto-fermented rice dish. Originally, when the fermented fish was to be 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 the Lake Biwa in Japan, resembles the traditional fermented dish. Beginning in the Muromachi period (AD 1336–1573) of Japan, vinegar was added to the mixture for better taste and preservation. The vinegar accentuated the rice's sourness and was believed to increase the 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, and by the mid 18th century this form of sushi had reached Edo (contemporary Tokyo).
The contemporary version which is internationally known as "sushi", was created by Hanaya Yohei (1799–1858) at the end of the Edo period in Edo. The sushi that was invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented (therefore prepared much faster than originally) 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). Although the fish used in modern sushi no longer usually comes from Tokyo Bay, it is still formally known as 'Edomae nigirizushi'.
An early report of sushi having been consumed in Britain occurred when the then Prince, now Emperor, Akihito, visited Queen Elizabeth II during her Coronation in May of 1953. And in America in September of 1953, Prince Akihito is noted as having served sushi at a dinner at the Japanese Embassy in Washington.
The one common ingredient across all kinds of sushi is vinegared sushi rice, variety stems from the various fillings, condiments, toppings and preparation. Traditional versus contemporary methods of assembly may create different results from similar items. In spelling sushi, its first letter s is replaced with z when a prefix is attached, as in nigirizushi, due to consonant mutation that is called rendaku in Japanese.
Chirashizushi is a bowl of sushi rice which is topped with a variety of sashimi and garnishes (also refers to barazushi). Edomae chirashizushi (Edo-style scattered sushi) is an uncooked ingredient arranged carefully on top of the sushi rice in a bowl. Gomokuzushi (Kansai-style sushi) consists of cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed in the body of rice in a bowl. There is no set formula for the ingredients; they are either chef's choice or 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.