Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
The real secret to sushi isn’t fish

The real secret to sushi isn’t fish

Whole Foods? Refrigerated section by the fish on ice. 7-11? Beside the fruit cups in light syrup. Trader Joe’s? By the packaged sausage. It is everywhere. But as sushi made its way into foodies’ hearts across the globe, one thing has persisted in making sushi sushi. And it’s right there in the name. The word “sushi” actually refers, not to the fish, but to the rice that was originally used to preserve the fish. Some of the earliest documentation of sushi comes from China thousands of years ago. During the monsoon season, floods pushed fish into rice paddies and farmers who caught the fish needed a way to store them for extended periods of time. So they salted the whole fish, packed it under weights with cooked rice, and sealed it in a barrel. Months later, bacteria had converted sugars in the rice into lactic acid, which helped prevent the fish from spoiling. The pickled fish was eaten and the rice was tossed out. This preservation method spread to Japan around the 8th century, where they later shortened the fermentation time and began eating the sour-tasting rice with the fish. And when rice vinegar was invented around 1600, it was used to flavor the rice instead of waiting for it to ferment. Later, the invention of nori sometime before the 19th century led to maki, or rolled sushi. 18th century sushi was often 3 to 4 times bigger than what we see today and was served as a street food in Japan. As it moved indoors, restaurants wanted to distinguish their sushi as more refined, so they started making the petite nigiri we know today. Only after the invention of refrigeration in the 20th century did raw fish sushi become more common. In the 1960s, sushi landed in the US and ended up at the first American sushi bar, Kawafuku, in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. It eventually became popular all across the US by the 1980s and the rest is history. Sushi rolls in particular are continuing to make their mark in American cuisine. You’ve got the Philly roll with its very un Japanese-ingredient of Philadelphia cream cheese, the the California roll made with avocados and fake crab meat. And many many more nontraditional ingredients. “Oh my God! The sushi burrito is living.” “This is deep-fried sushi.” It was also in the States where the maki roll was turned inside-out, reportedly in response to an American squeamishness about seaweed. But through it all, the flavor of the vinegared rice is still a staple, tying today’s sushi back to its very practical past.

100 comments on “The real secret to sushi isn’t fish

  1. Narrator: Whole Foods? Refrigerated section by the fish on ice.
    7-11? Beside the fruit cups in light syrup.
    Trader Joe's? By the packaged sausage.
    Shops: Are you a Russian spy?

  2. I've actually never really noticed any vinegar taste and I have eaten a LOT of sushi…. Is this bc it's very mild to be Americanized or are my tastebuds dead or is it not supposed to be noticeable?

  3. the real secret to sushi isnt the fish or the rice, its how the us government has been hiding the secret to 9 11 all these years. i mean come on its very obvious donald trump doenst want the supreme lords of the illumati

  4. That one quote at the vid "sushi is everywhere" is kinda not true. They're not always at every stoee you know

  5. puts fish in rice to preserve fish
    throws out rice
    several years later

    HOLY ** WE CAN EAT THE RICE TOO??!!?!??!?!?!?!?

  6. i would recommend a less boring video made by a youtuber called sam o'nella academy about sushi much more fun much more info in much less time.

  7. WRONG. It's not from the Chinese. Sushi came from Japan, who adopted Malay style of preserving fish, which called Pekasam. Nowadays you can still find Pekasam fish throughout Malaysia and Indonesia, Philippines and Brunei. It's part of the Austronesian culture.

  8. This is a lie the japan did not eat sushi with fish until a country sold it to them because they had way to much salmon. The Japan did not like the idea of fish so that Country had to convince them that putting fish in your sushi is good

  9. I worked at a really nice sushi place.. and I can tell you that the quality of the fish makes a huge difference lol

  10. What’s up with so many people (aka mostly white men) commenting on the narrator’s voice? It’s like someone sent this video to a troll website and asked people to comment rude things about her voice or something. Not everyone on YouTube has a high pitch Barbie voice

  11. Last time I checked, it was Canada that turned the maki roll inside out, as well as the fact that B.C invented the California roll

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