You’ve probably been to a Japanese-style restaurant in the US and seen familiar dishes: rice, a lot of it, a spicy wasabi, some warm sake, a lot of rice, and a good amount of fish. Did you know you don’t need to eat fish in order for the dish that you are eating to be called Sushi? What about those little rice blocks with egg, spam, or other bits attached to them by a seaweed strap? Yup, still Sushi!
Let’s take a bit of history out of the equation and find out what some of the most commonly used words and references to Sushi are!
What is Sushi?
Let’s begin with the main reason we’re all here: Sushi. When Westerners imagine Sushi, they think of neatly arranged slices of raw salmon and other toppings on or within bite-sized pieces of rice. Refers specifically to the type of rice used. Cold-boiled rice is moistened with rice vinegar to give it a slightly acidic flavor. Sushi was originally developed to preserve raw fish by wrapping it in specially fermented, salted rice. This allowed the fish to be held for weeks or even months.
Did You Know…?
The origins of Sushi can be traced back to Southeast Asia, between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE. In a Chinese dictionary from the fourth century, a description of Sushi was first printed. It described the process of fermenting cooked rice with salted fish. The introduction of Sushi to Japan is believed to have occurred in the 8th century. Sushi was first recorded in English in 1895-1900, from its Japanese origins of “sour and sour rice.”
What exactly is wasabi?
You’re probably experiencing a hair-raising sensation if you’ve eaten wasabi paste. Wasabi comes from the same family as horseradish, mustard, and other plants. The rhizomes of this plant are ground to a paste and used as a condiment for Sushi, sashimi, and other raw fish dishes. Wasabi was used as a medicine in Japan as early as the Nara period (710-793 CE).
Want to know more about sashimi? Here’s more information about sashimi.
What exactly is daikon?
The white winter radish is a popular icon in pop culture. It was even featured in an anime film, Spirited Away, in 2001. The modern word daikon is derived from Middle Chinese and consists of the Japanese prefix “large” (dai) and the root (-kon). These radishes have a crunchy texture and are mostly water. Daikon oroshi is often used as a condiment and mixed with sauces like ponzu. Daikon roots are used in many types of Japanese pickles. Daikon is used in many Asian dishes, including those from China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
What is mirin?
A Japanese rice wine, Mirin is used in cooking. Mirin is used in a variety of ways, depending on the region. It’s often found in teriyaki or as an important vinegar in Sushi. Mirin is sweeter than saké but has a lower alcohol level (about 14% for mirin and about 20% for sake). Mirin, a Japanese condiment, is made from steamed glutinous, cultured (or koji) rice and a distilled liquor of rice. The mixture can ferment for a few months or several years. The darker the color of mirin and the stronger its flavor, the longer it ages. The first time mirin appeared in English was in 1870-1875. The Japanese term Mirin is likely to have originated in Middle Chinese. Its modern components are rin and mi, which means “taste or flavor.”
What is miso HTML0?
The soup with the same name is often made up of. Miso is a fermented soybean paste that’s usually flavored with barley or rice. It’s used to spice soups and other sauces. In many Japanese restaurants in the US, Miso may be served prior to the arrival of full orders of Sushi or sashimi. Miso soup is meant to be consumed after a meal to settle the stomach.
Miso, like Sushi, is thought to have come to Japan from China. This could be coincident with the spread of Buddhism. The modern word Miso was first used in the Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku around 800 CE. It replaced the Chinese character with one that could be used to refer to Japanese Miso specifically. Miso was used in feudal Japan to differentiate between the ruling and subordinate classes. Miso (mee -soh) was first recorded in 1720-30. It is the equivalent of the Korean term meju, “soybean molt.”
What exactly is nigiri?
Here we are! You probably thought of this when you first heard the term Sushi. Nigiri is a small block of rice that has a slice of raw salmon on it. The word is derived from nigirizushi or, literally, “hand-pressed, rolled sushi.” This refers to the method by which the dish is prepared. The Japanese verb “nigiru” means to grip, grasp, or roll with your hands. The hand-molded lump of rice is Sushi ( -Sushi).
Hanaya Yohei opened his first sushi stand in 1824 on the streets of Japan’s former capital of Edo. (Later renamed Tokyo). Yohei’s Sushi was made possible by the Tokyo Bay. Fresh fish, whether lightly marinated or cooked, did not need to be preserved and salted for a long time.
What does nori mean?
You’ve seen it before if you’ve ever had Sushi. It’s the little dark band that holds the Sushi in place. There’s ori. Nori, which is seaweed with a mildly salty, sweet taste, is used in Japanese cooking, mostly as a wrapper for Sushi. Nori was first used in 702 CE, but the exact date is unknown. The cultivation of nori in the forms we see today started around the Edo period, which began in the 17th century.
Nori was first recorded in English between 1890 and 1995. It is a Japanese compound word made from no, the combining particle of “water” and ri, “lichen, moss,” to create “edible seaweed.”
Learn Japanese words in English.
What is ponzu?
This sauce is a delicious addition to any sushi roll. A spice that is made of citrus juice, sugar, sake, soy sauce, and red pepper is Ponzu. The Dutch word Pons is the root of the word ponzu, which refers to the Japanese sour citrus juice (typically yuzu) or daidai. The term “punch” is derived from. This refers to the fruity drink served at parties. As the sauce began to take on acidic notes, -su was added as an additional character. The tangy, sweet flavor of ponzu makes sense. As with other sauces, the ingredients used to make ponzu may vary by region. In some cases, ponzu may be less sweet with a more Umami flavor. You can use ponzu as a marinade, a salad dressing, or a dipping/marinade sauce.
What exactly is maki-sushi?
Do you remember Mr. Hanaya and his Sushi stand? The popularity of nigirizushi street food grew in the 19th century. Rather than a block of rice, the nigirizushi became a cylinder-shaped rice dish with nori wrapping it. The middle of the new Makizushi is then filled with extra ingredients, such as vegetables, fish, and condiments like wasabi. Maki names vary depending on the ingredients and style. Maki is then sliced into bite-sized, round pieces. Most made in Japan are simple and consist of sushi rice, fish, or vegetables, with nori wrapped around the outside. However, there are many specialty maki from all over the world, which include fillings ranging from salmon mayonnaise to avocado and asparagus.
What’s a California Roll?
The origin of this maki is controversial. It was developed outside Japan. The California Sushi Roll is attributed to two Los Angeles sushi chefs, Ken Seusa & Ichiro Mahita. Avocado is a Californian staple, but the roll also includes other ingredients like cucumber, crabmeat, or imitation crabmeat. The Sushi and nori are then wrapped around it.
California rolls are also typically cut into circular pieces. The California roll was unique at that time because the nori (seaweed) was placed inside the maki instead of wrapping around the outside of the registration. The idea was to make the California roll more appealing to Anglo-American customers, who tend to throw away the nori wrapping. It is believed that the California roll was invented in the late 1960s or early 1970s. In either case, it helped to drive the popularity and acceptance of Sushi in America.
What is gunkanmaki?
It’s a word that may be unfamiliar to you, but most people who have eaten Sushi at a restaurant will know what gunkanmaki is. This is a nigiri that has been wrapped with nori but lies flat. The top, where you would normally see the ingredients, is usually covered with daikon shredded or oysters. The little dark cylinders that make up the gunkanmaki look like battleships when they are arranged in a line on a white, oblong plate. Gunkanmaki was introduced to the sushi world at the beginning of World War II. Its invention is credited in 1941 to the Ginza Kyubey Restaurant.
What is temaki?
You might know what temaki means if you are familiar with the meaning of karate, which is “empty hands.” This is especially true now that you’ve learned maki refers primarily to sushi rolls. Did you guess the “hand roll?” You’re right! A temaki is a Japanese maki that consists of vegetables, fish, and sushi rice stuffed together and then wrapped with a delicious, salty nori. The temaki is shaped into a cone. This makes it easy to eat this type of roll with your hands. Bon appe–wait. Correction: itadakimasu!
Try this quiz
Have we made your mouth water yet? Please take our short quiz to test your knowledge about the rich linguistic heritage of Sushi while you search for the best restaurants near you. If you want to try all of these words, you can do so by checking out our list. This is best done before trying your favorite Nigiri.