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America has become a sushi-loving nation since sushi’s west coast expansion after World War II when it was considered a delicacy enjoyed mostly by celebrities and other movers and shakers. By the late 1970s sushi restaurants were booming throughout California and spreading throughout the country. Today, sushi has become an American staple for everything from dining out to dinner parties to cocktail happy hours.

Sushi was a street food
Sushi began in the 1830s as a fast food sold at streetside stands in a place called “Edo,” modern day Tokyo. Because there was no refrigeration, fish was typically marinated to prevent spoilage. By the late 1890s, ice making machines and other refrigeration systems were used to keep sushi fresh.

Most sushi is actually maki or nigiri
Sushi comes in many forms, including cone-shaped rolls known called temaki and a rice bowl topped with fish referred to as chirashi. Typically, when Americans refer to “sushi,” they are talking about nigiri, which is raw fish atop a bed of rice, or maki, which is rolled in seaweed (or nori) and rice and sliced.

Salmon sushi was invented in the 1980s
Salmon isn’t native to Japan. A delegation from the Norwegian fishing industry visited Japan in the 1980s to propose its use as a sushi delicacy, and the rest is history. Another little known fact: salmon is actually a fatty whitefish that gets its pink color from eating crustaceans. 

The California Roll is all-American
“Inside-out rolls,” the ones with sushi on the inside and seaweed and sticky rice on the outside, are not traditional in Japan. They are entirely an American creation. Arguably the most popular of these, the California Roll, was first created in 1963 by Ichiro Mashita at the Tokyo Kaikan restaurant in Los Angeles. The roll featuring King crab, avocado and mayonnaise didn’t get its name until the 1980s. Mashita put seaweed on the outside of the roll after noticing Americans were peeling it off and afraid to eat it.

The perfect rice is hard to come by
Perfect sushi rice is made with a delicate balance of water, cooking time, room temperature and humidity, and mixing technique. The best temperature for sushi rice is body temperature, and a wooden container is best suited for keeping the right  temperature and moisture balance. While sushi rice needs to be served just above room temperature to stay sticky enough to travel by chopsticks to the mouth, the grains should separate on the palate. That means sushi chefs must strike the perfect balance of tightness when packing the inner and outer layers.


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