What IS sushi and when did it start?

Traditional sushi originates in Southeast Asia and has been served there since at least the 5th century BCE. This appears to have started as a means of preserving raw fish in fermented rice. Using this method, salted and prepared fish could be safely stored for months, wrapped in fermented rice. This practice migrated through China, arriving in Japan sometime during the 8th century. This is where many feel sushi took on a new life and art of its own.

Between the 1300s and 1800s, numerous techniques were added to speed the original process.

In the 1820s, a man named Hanaya Yohei opened the first sushi stall in the Ryogoku district of Edo. Changing the previous process of months of preparation, Yohei added salt and rice vinegar to the newly cooked rice. Allowing it to “rest” for a few minutes, it was hand-pressed and served. A small ball of rice topped with a thin layer of raw fish. Delicious, Fresh and so much faster!

Served as a delicate sushi rice ball, topped with a thin slice of fish. Nigri is frequently but not always served raw. Whether served with shellfish, fish or other toppings, Nigri is often ordered by those who enjoy the full flavor of the fish with which its paired.

Tempura sushi is a favorite for many who are new to sushi. Since tempura contains no raw fish, many find this a more attractive “first try”. Tempura is also deep fried.

Sashimi is served as thin-sliced fish or shellfish only. No rice.

While many other sushi rolls are prepared with rolled rice and seaweed on the exterior, Uramaki often has seaweed as part of the roll interior and rice as the final layer.

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