The History of Sushi

Updated: Apr 27

Sushi has become one of the most revered dishes from Japan known for its freshness. Ironically, sushi was not invented in Japan and originally was created as a method to preserve fish in South East Asia. Alongside the Mekong river, fishermen would salt and dry fish before packing the insides of the fish with rice and storing it in barrels. The fish would be preserved through anaerobic fermentation which converted sugars from the rice into acid.

Sushi by definition means sour rice. Sashimi had been traditionally eaten in Japan for centuries but the sushi wasn’t introduced until the 7th century. The earliest form of sushi was called Nare Sushi. This fermented dish took over 1-2 months to perfect and was known for its pungent smell. After the development and popularization of rice vinegar, a new variety of sushi was created called Han- Nare where semi-fermented fish and rice were eaten together.

The fermentation process became less popular due to its smell and the time and labor it required. Haya-Zushi or “fast sushi” emulated the tart flavor of fermentation through the use of vinegar, quickly pickling over the course of a couple of days.

The sushi that we have come to know today was originally created as fast food at the beginning of the 19th century. A chef named Hanaya Yohei invented a style of sushi called Edo-mae named after the city Edo now known as Tokyo. Here lightly cured fish was served on top of rice which is most similar to the modern-day nigiri style sushi. However, fresh fish was not eaten until the development of refrigeration which allowed chefs to stop curing their fish and begin to explore alternative types of fish like salmon and tuna. Today there are over 100 different varieties of sushi enjoyed globally.

The process of creating sushi has become a delicate art form. Have you ever given it a try? Food Craft offers two levels of sushi-making classes perfect for your next team-building event. For more information email us at

How about you try your hands in making Sushi at the comfort of your home with our Sushi Making Kit.

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