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Sushi

Sushi image.

Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice sushi-meshi (鮨飯, "sushi rice") combined with other ingredients (neta [寿司ネタ]), usually raw fish or other seafood. Neta and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is vinegared rice. The rice is also referred to as (shari [しゃり]) and "sumeshi" (酢飯, "vinegared rice").

Raw meat (usually but not necessarily seafood) sliced and served by itself is sashimi. Many non-Japanese use the terms sashimi and sushi interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. Sushi refers to any dish made with vinegared rice.

History

The original type of sushi, known today as nare-zushi (馴れ寿司, 熟寿司,) was first made in Southeast Asia, possibly along what is now known as the Mekong River. 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 oldest form of sushi in Japan, narezushi, still very closely resembles this process, wherein fish is fermented via being wrapped in soured fermenting rice. The fish proteins break down via fermentation into its constituent amino acids. The fermenting rice and fish results in a sour taste and also one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese. 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 while 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 1336–1573) 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 (1799–1858) at the end of the Edo period in Edo. Sushi invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented (therefore prepared quickly) and could be conveniently eaten with one's hands.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 Oxford English Dictionary notes the earliest written mention of sushi in English in an 1893 book, A Japanese Interior, where it mentions sushi as "a roll of cold rice with fish, sea-weed, or some other flavoring".However, there is also mention of sushi in a Japanese-English dictionary from 1873, and an 1879 article on Japanese cookery in the journal Notes and Queries.

Presentation

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 shō-chiku-bai (松竹梅), shō/matsu (, pine), chiku/take (, bamboo) and bai/ume), with matsu the most expensive and ume the cheapest.

Sushi may be 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 manage elapsed time after the item was prepared.

Etiquette

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, 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.

In The Film

In Sushi Girl, sushi is served at Fish's homecoming party. The sushi was served upon the beautiful plate that is Sushi Girl.

Sources

Gallery

Sushi Gallery

Sushi Girl
Film Sushi Girl
Main Characters Sushi Girl - Duke - Crow - Fish - Max - Francis - Nelson - Sushi Chef - Schlomo - Morris - Mike - Martin
Music Sushi Girl (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Galleries Sushi Girl (film) Gallery - Sushi Girl/Gallery - Duke/Gallery - Crow/Gallery - Fish/Gallery - Max/Gallery - Francis/Gallery - Nelson/Gallery - Posters
Items Noh Theatre Masks - Diamonds - Machete - Timer - Old Work Shoes - Reel-to-reel Tape Recorder - Sushi
Terms/Concepts Falkore Plumbing - Acupuncture - Russian Roulette - Nyotaimori
Vehicles Dodge Ram Van - Chevrolet Caprice - Chevrolet Chevy Van - Imperial LeBaron

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