A Brief History of Modern Day Sushi

The popular dish, Sushi, has been around for a surprisingly long time, although not quite in its present form. The history of the food is a fascinating tale of the evolution of what was once a simple dish. What was to become today’s sushi was mentioned in ancient China in the second century A.D.

Originally, sushi arose out of a method of keeping food fresh. Fish was placed in rice and allowed to ferment, which give it the ability to keep the fish edible for some time. The rice was then discarded and the fish was eaten when needed.

How Sushi Evolved

By the start of the 1800s, Hanaya Yohei conceived of a major change in the production and presentation of his sushi. He no longer wrapped the fish in rice, but rather placed a piece of fresh fish on top of an oblong shaped piece of seasoned rice.

Today this style is known as ‘nigiri sushi’ (finger sushi) or “edomae sushi” and has become the most common way of eating sushi. At the time, sushi was served from sushi stalls on the street and was served as a small, takeaway snack.

Served from his stall, this was not only the first of the real ‘fast food’ sushi, but grew in popularity fairly quickly. From his home, which was in Edo, this style of serving the food spread through the country, and was aided by the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 when many people moved away from Tokyo.

Once World War 2 had come to a close, sushi stalls were shutting down and moved indoors, to more sanitary conditions. Formal seating was later provided, and sushi changed from ‘fast food’ to a true dining meal.

Sushi spread around the world, and with the growing popularity of seafood, this unusual style of serving fish was quickly adopted by cultures further West, who were always eager to try something new, especially something as exotic as sushi.

Today’s Sushi

Sushi has now evolved to another level beyond the traditional Japanese methods, and has become a unique dining experience that all are welcome to enjoy. Influence from the west has also given rise to new types and styles of sushi, such as California rolls and the many elaborate creations at upscale sushi venues.

The history of sushi is a long one, around 1800 years old, but the current iteration is popular across the globe, and rightfully so.

It is not that often that something so deeply permeated in a single cultural can take the world by storm, but can also influence the direction of food in other cultures, similarly seen with other ventures, such as online blackjack. Demand for sushi has been ever growing and it seems to be continuing to evolve.

Traditional sushi restaurants sit alongside newer, fusion restaurants and both are popular for their own reasons. Sushi has a long and prosperous future ahead of it as it continues to change and evolve.