A Brief History of Sushi, Part II

Overhead shot of sushi on dark background. Sushi rolls nigiri rice soy sauce ?hopsticks. Asian food background. Space for text. Sushi set

by Joel Stark and Matthew Kim

In our last edition, we learned about the ancient history of our cuisine. To wrap up (or roll up, if you will), we’ll jump to America where chefs at restaurants and companies like Snowfox continued to experiment with sushi in order to broaden its appeal.

Compared to Western-style sushi, as food writer Kathryn Hill explains, sushi in Japan is so simple and focused on clean-but-rich tastes that they seldom use more than one type of fish and a single vegetable in a sushi dish.

During the 1960s and 70s sushi was introduced to Southern California through Japanese chefs. Many of these chefs claimed celebrity clientele, who spread the word of this soon-to-be trendy fare while experimenting to entice more guests.

When a cuisine travels continents, changes in both substance and style are inevitable. A perfect example is the ubiquitous fortune cookie that so many diners associate with Chinese restaurants. According to most historians, the treat was created right here in America; and some researchers believe it was actually invented by a San Francisco Japanese-American who owned a Chinese restaurant!

Likewise, the California Roll we enjoy today was born in the Golden State out of necessity and creativity when a Japanese chef substituted rich avocado for fatty tuna. This was the turning point in the popularity of what we now enjoy as Western-style sushi.

Check out next edition’s Sushi Savvy as Chef Bae returns with tips for mastering sushi preparation!


Sushi Etiquette

– Eating sushi with your hands is considered the traditional way of eating sushi, although chopsticks are acceptable.

– Only the fish should be dipped in soy sauce in order to maintain the integrity of the sushi rice

– Wasabi is only meant to enhance the flavor of the fish and should not overpower it. Use only a little in order to let the subtle flavor of raw fish be the star.

– Because of how delicately most sushi is made, a piece—from a maki roll, for example—should be eaten whole and not in several bites. Taking multiple bites will cause it to fall apart, and it is considered rude to leave rice after eating sushi.