Japanese cuisine became popular in my country not so long time ago. Within several years it was possible to observe how the menu of every second restaurant is replenished with Japanese sushi, sashimi and rolls. They are being served not only at the Japanese-cuisine-type restaurants but also at any restaurant, pub, or café, which would like to attract more customers.
“Through the West to the East“
It is remarkable that such interest to Asian delicacies came to us not straight from Japan, but “through the West to the east“. Indeed! Firstly, Japanese exotic food was tasted in Europe and USA, and only then was found on the Eastern Europe countries’ plates. According to the Japanese phonetics one should pronounce “susi”, but having undergone a certain adaptation in the West, this name came to us as “sushi”.
This tasty food was founded more 1300 years ago. Its name “sushi” (in Japanese 寿司 ), oddly enough, has no translation yet. Or, more precisely, there is such set of interpretation of two hieroglyphs that it can be successfully treated as both a «marinated fish» and a happiness wish. As often happens, any dish origin history is related to its way of storage.
Narezushi or Salted Fish
Sushi originates in a Southeast Asian dish, known today as narezushi (馴れ寿司, 熟寿司 – “salted fish”), stored in fermented rice for possibly months at a time. The lacto-fermentation of the rice prevented the fish from spoiling; the rice would be thrown away (how wasteful!) before eating fish. This early type of sushi became an important source of protein for its Japanese consumers.
Samurai, nigirisushi, sticks
The sushi master Dzhokhey (only representatives of Samurais had the right to use the surname) was the first one who cooked a rice ball, then added wasabi (the Japanese horse-radish was known as the best antiseptic) and covered it with a piece of fish. The dish was named as nigirisushi. Nigiri in Japanese means “handful” denoting the amount of rice that can be eaten at once.
People love eating sushi with sticks. Sticks are difficult in use for many, but not for those ones who learned how to deal with them. I shall say that Japanese cuisine offers food served mainly in the form of small separate pieces (sushi, sashimi) which are enough to be picked and put in a mouth.
Sushi are very low-calorie food. It would seem that sushi cannot do harm to health? At a first glance, everything looks pretty innocent – a small portion of rice, sea fish and vegetable ingredients. Let us take a closer look.
Sushi can be useful to our body as it contains:
sea fish includes fat-soluble vitamin D, a nutrient that most people are deficient in. It functions like a steroid hormone in the body. Researchers believe that the fatty types of fish are even more beneficial for heart health, because of their high amount of omega-3 fatty acids;
rice acts as fuel for the body and aids in the normal functioning of the brain. Rice is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like niacin, vitamin D, calcium, fiber, iron, thiamine, and riboflavin. These vitamins provide the foundation for the body’s metabolism, immune system health, and etcetera;
recent studies suggest that soy sauce may be able to provide some digestive tract benefits;
wasabi contains antimicrobial agents which are useful for eliminating bacteria. Due to its ability to block platelet aggregation, wasabi helps to reduce chances of heart attack and stroke;
ginger is the strong antioxidant and also an immune-stimulator;
However, one should always keep in mind that not all sushi ingredients are beneficial to our body. For example, nearly all fish have traces of methylmercury, a form of mercury that has neurotoxic effects, especially in developing brains. Salt-sensitive people should be careful with soy sauce since it is widely regarded as salty food, a tablespoon of soy sauce contains 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Also be aware of the fact that all seafood ingredients of sushi MUST be fresh.
To Eat or Not to Eat?
If you are not allergic to any of sushi ingredients and have no serious diseases, then go ahead and taste it. This food might “conquer” or not your taste receptors, but you will not remain indifferent. Nobody can tell for sure why Japanese people live longer than many Europeans, some say that the secret lies in their daily food habits.