20 interesting and surprising facts about sushi

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Jonathan Greenstein

American football playing individual|Patriots fan|Aspiring author & blogger|Thinks of himself as a bit of an entrepreneur|Ever hungry mind that is always willing to share|All round swell guy | Twitter - @J_Greenstein

Looking for some interesting facts about sushi? Did you know sushi does not actually mean ‘raw fish’? Contrary to popular belief, sushi actually refers to rice that has been seasoned with vinegar, sugar, and salt. How much do you really know about the Japanese delicacy that has taken over western palates? Here are 20 more facts about sushi that you may not have known.

  1. Sashimi isn’t sushi?

You may be surprised to know that sashimi isn’t actually sushi. The popular dish, made from thinly sliced raw meat or fish (and sometimes served with rice), may be on most Japanese restaurant’s menu’s but it is often confused for sushi. The word ‘Sashi’ means cut and ‘mi’ means body.

  1. Salmon isn’t a traditional ingredient

Another surprising fact is that salmon is not a traditional ingredient when it comes to making sushi. A Norwegian businessmen, Bjorn Eirik Olsen, is credited with introducing the Japanese to salmon when it comes to using the fish as an ingredient. Olsen was given the job of helping the Norwegian salmon industry sell more fish in the early 1980s.

  1. How long does it take to be a sushi chef?

To craft the perfect sushi rolls, you need about 10 years’ worth of training. Trainee sushi chefs, or itamae, will train extensively for 2 years on the nuances of handling sushi. Only after this initial 2 year period can they start working properly.

  1. What is the history of sushi restaurants?

Do you imagine the ancient Japanese rolling sushi in the beautiful Japanese countryside? If so, you’d be wrong. Historically, sushi was a cosmopolitan street food. It used to be sold by street vendors but after the earthquake of 1923, real-estate prices dropped low enough for sushi vendors to buy birck-and-mortar establishments.

  1. Where does the name sushi come from?

The term sushi comes from an old-fashion Japanese grammatical form that is no longer used in common dialect. It literally means ‘sour-tasting’. This name is a reflection of sushi’s historic origin as a fermented food.

  1. What is the most expensive sushi in the world?

Bluefin Tuna sushi is the most expensive sushi available. The most expensive Bluefin Tuna sold for a record breaking $1.76 million in Tokyo in 2013. The purchase was made by Kiyoshi Kimura, the owner of the Sushi Zanmai chain of restaurants in Japan.  The fish he bought was 488 pounds which works out to roughly $3600 per pound.

  1. Is sushi good for you?

The main ingredients in traditional Japanese sushi are raw fish and rice. These two ingredients are naturally low in fat, high in protein, carbohydrates (only the rice), vitamins and minerals. Sometimes sushi incorporates other vegetables and these can bring other various vitamins and nutrients. Lots of the seafood ingredients used in sushi also contain omega-3 fatty acids which have various health benefits.

  1. Where does sushi come from?

As we all know, modern sushi comes from Japan but the dish did not originate there. It is said that sushi originated from the rice-growing region of Southeast Asia near the Mekong River roughly 2000 years ago. The technique then spread to other regions and is said to have appeared in Japan around the 8th century AD.

  1. Why is the sushi ginger pink?

It is true that young ginger plants do have a slightly pinkish colour. But, most of the ginger that accompanies commercial sushi is normally a pale yellow colour. This ginger we are all used to is usually dyed with either artificial colours or beetroot juice.

  1. Fresh sushi is the best sushi

Sushi is best eaten soon after it is made. If you store it in the freezer, the food starts to turn sour and lose all its flavour. Once the fish is cut, it oxidises (when exposed to the air) which gives it a sour taste. This is why sushi bought in a grocery store will never taste as good as the fresh product.

  1. What is wasabi?

Wasabi, the green paste that accompanies your sushi may not be authentic wasabi. Real wasabi comes from the root of the wasabia japonica plant. Most wasabi you find in restaurants or commercial sushi boxes is actually horseradish and mustard powder that has been dyed green.

  1. Is there a particular way to eat sushi?

Sushi etiquette tells us that sushi should be eaten from light to dark. The darker fillings tend to have a heavier taste.

  1. What is Fugu?

Fugu is sushi that is specifically made from the puffer fish. Fugu is famous because of the difficulty sushi chefs face when making the dish. The organs of the puffer fish produce a lethal neurotoxin that is 1,200 times more toxic than cyanide. Sushi chefs must receive a special license before they are allowed to prepare fugu and the emperor of Japan is forbidden from ever tasting it.

  1. What diseases can you get from sushi?

There are a handful of things that you can catch if you eat sushi. They can include herring worm, roundworms and a host of other human parasites. Sushi has also been known to cause several strains of bacterial infection. It should be noted that proper sushi chefs are trained to spot impurities and parasites within the fish they use.

  1. What is the proper way to eat sushi?

Struggling with chopsticks? No need to worry! Traditionally, sushi is meant to be eaten with your hands. Chopsticks are usually used to eat the sashimi (the thin slices of raw fish or meat.)

  1. How many types of sushi are there?

Did you know that there are 6 types of sushi? They are:  Chirashizushi (scattered sushi), Inarizushi (named after the Shinto god Inari), Makizushi (rolled sushi), Narezushi (matured sushi) Nigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi), and Oshizushi (pressed sushi).

  1. Is sushi an aphrodisiac?

Sushi is commonly thought of as an aphrodisiac because two common fishes used as ingredients, salmon and mackerel, both have very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids aid in sex-hormone production. Additionally, tuna is a good source of selenium which helps increase a male’s sperm count.

  1. Who is the world’s best sushi chef?

Currently, Jiro Ono is considered to be the world’s best sushi chef. The 86 year old sushi chef has customers making reservations at his restauarant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, up to a year in advance. Jiro Ono also holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s oldest three-Michelin star chef.

  1. How often do you have to sharpen sushi knives?

So how often do you have to sharpen sushi knives? What do you think? Weekly? Monthly? In fact, sushi knives should be sharpened every day. It is believed that the knives used by sushi chefs are descended from samurai swords. Traditionally, the blades should be sharpened every day to cut fish. Another interesting fact about sushi knives is that the traditional ones are only sharpened on one side. This is to ensure that the fish is cut on the pull stroke rather than the push stroke. Why you may ask? This allows the sushi chefs to keep their elbow’s close to their sides.

  1. Why is there plastic grass in my sushi box?

You may not know this but the plastic grass in your take-out sushi box actually has a historical purpose. Now-a-days the grass is used as a decoration and divider but historically, real leaves were used for their antibacterial properties. This helped the fish stay fresh for longer.

Were any facts about sushi missed out?

With my facts about sushi article, I tried to be as comprehensive as I could be with this list but I know that there are probably many more interesting, unusual and surprising facts about sushi that I may not have found. Do you know any other facts about sushi? Why not list them below in the comments?

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Jonathan Greenstein

American football playing individual|Patriots fan|Aspiring author & blogger|Thinks of himself as a bit of an entrepreneur|Ever hungry mind that is always willing to share|All round swell guy | Twitter - @J_Greenstein

One thought on “20 interesting and surprising facts about sushi

  • July 28, 2017 at 6:35 am
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    Thanks for sharing these interesting facts about sushi. As a sushi lover, I love to know about some amazing facts about sushi world. Thanks again for such an amazing article.

    Reply

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