History of Sushi

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Sushi: A Brief History

Sushi is a dish made up of small rolls of cooked rice flavored with vinegar, sugar, salt, and topped with a variety of sliced or shaved raw seafood. It is also prepared with pieces of sweet omelet or shredded vegetables, wrapped in nori and then molded to form a decorative bite-sized package before being served with wasabi, Beni-Shoga, and a soya sauce dip. It can be acknowledged that Sushi went through different stages of development in history starting from when it was first prepared, to when it went global, and finally to the different ways man has improved its recipe over time.


Sushi was first made in Southeast Asia from the practice of preserving fish. In this practice, farmers stuffed fish with rice, put them in a container and closed it to let the fish ferment. After a suitable period of time-often years, the rice was discarded and the fish consumed (Hsin-I Feng 206). This practice is still performed in Tokyo and it is called narezushi. Fish is the usual topping for sushi but other types of foods can also be added to that plate. There are a lot of legendary tales about how sushi was first made and one of them is about an old lady who decided to hide her rice in a fish container so that it may not be stolen only to find it fermented. It is also argued that Sushi originated from the streets and took a long time before it could be served in expensive restaurants.

The Globalization of Sushi

Sushi's migration, as well as, globalization started slowly by its knowledge being carried by the large Japanese immigrant communities who migrated to Western and Southern America, Brazil, and Australia from the Pacific Rim (Hsin-I Feng). It was mainly served in Asia, however, after the Second World War; some Japanese migrated to North America and in particular Los Angles where they opened Kawafuku restaurants. When Sushi started being served in the United States of American (USA), people did not like black pepper, thus, the cooks had to improvise, and hence they came up with the uramaki. Nobody expected sushi to become one of the most popular foods in the world and this can be evidenced by the fact that it is one of the top-selling foods in the famous fast food restaurants referred to as McDonald's. The concept of sushi was likely introduced to Japan in the ninth century and became popular there as Buddhism spread. The Buddhist dietary practice of abstaining from meat meant that many Japanese people turned to fish as a dietary staple (Tori). Sushi has been prepared longer than anyone has ever expected and through this time in history, it has been called different names. A preparation method referred to as Funa Zushi is one of the basic ways that sushi used to be made by the Japanese for about 5 centuries.

It is, however, important to note that this preparation method was mostly used by those who were wealthy because it took a lot of time and resources to ferment the rice and fish. To avoid all these, they came up with a way that did not take that long and was also economical. Before this new method was discovered, restaurants used to display notices indicating when sushi would be ready for sale because its preparation took too long. There are a lot of speculations about where Sushi was first prepared and how it became global, however, by looking at its ingredients and where it is widely prepared and consumed its origins can be established and a map of its globalization can be prepared. Personally, because of the many speculations I heard, I took the initiative to dig deep into Sushi's history, as well as, travel to Michigan USA to meet and talk to some of the most qualified Sushi cooks in the world, as well as, eat their Sushi. It tasted weird at first, however, I, later on, got addicted after having it several times.


It is true to state that Sushi is indeed one of the best foods in the world. It traces its origins from Japan and because of immigration it has spread to various parts of the world, for example, the American continent. It is believed that Japanese immigrants helped spread knowledge about Sushi across the world as they migrated. In the USA, Sushi became famous mainly because the Japanese immigrants opened up restaurants where they served the food not only to their fellow Japanese but also to the Americans. Over the years, new ingredients have been added to the recipe, for example, vinegar, not only to improve the taste of Sushi but also to boost its nutritional value.

There exists a lot of stories that try and explain how it was first prepared, thus, it is difficult to conclude which among them is right. Despite these, it can be concluded that Sushi is a nice dish that has been accepted globally.

Works Cited

Tori, Ayey. “Discover the History of Sushi.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 5 Sept. 2012, www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/history-of-sushi/. Accessed  Sep 29, 2018

Feng, Cindy Hsin‐I. “The Tale of Sushi: History and Regulations.” The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Wiley-Blackwell, 29 Feb. 2012, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2011.00180.x. Accessed 09 Oct 2018

Feng, Cindy Hsin‐I. "The tale of sushi: history and regulations." Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 11.2 (2012): 205-220.

November 13, 2023

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