Tracing the origins of Sushi

Dishes that originate from Asia have been drawing the attention of foodies all over the world for decades, and one in particular stands out from the rest: sushi.

While there were precious few restaurants serving sushi in South Africa just two decades ago, culinary enthusiasts are now able to find the delicious delicacy almost anywhere in the country.

But have you ever wondered about the origins of this dish, characterised by different variations of raw fish and rice?

You might be surprised to learn that sushi’s origins can be traced back to the second century – that’s more than 2000 years ago! Sushi is commonly thought of as a Japanese dish, but the earliest predecessor of today’s California rolls actually first made their appearance in southern China.

In an era before refrigeration, salted fish, known as narezushi, was stored in fermented or vinegarated rice in order to preserve it, sometimes even for up to a year. When the preserved fish was eaten, the rice was discarded, but 14 centuries later this practice was abandoned, with the rice also forming part of the meal.

We have Yohei Hanaya to thank for modern sushi, which is instantly recognisable by its stacked or wrapped look. In the 19th century, this Japanese chef decided to remix the traditional way in which sushi was served by hand rolling a ball of the rice used to ferment the fish, and then stacking slivers of fish on top of it. Known as nigiri sushi, this new way of enjoying the dish brought about a revolution, and these bite-sized bits of flavour quickly made their way across the Pacific to the USA after the Meiji Restoration led many Japanese immigrants to the West.

There are now close to 120 000 Japanese restaurants across the world, many of which serve sushi, and this dish has well and truly become a global phenomenon.

To get your fix of flavourful sushi, drop by Kung-Fu Kitchen at Hazeldean Square. Kung-Fu Kitchen not only has sushi on offer, but also serves a wide range of Asian cuisine, including soup and a host of noodle and rice dishes.

Find Kung-Fu Kitchen at shop 21B at Hazeldean Square, or phone 012 809 0472 to place an order for delivery.