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Many people think that sushi just means raw fish, but it’s so much more than that! In essence, sushi consists of marrying vinegared rice with other ingredients such as raw or cured fish, other kinds of seafood, or even vegetables which are then presented in an elegant way and often accompanied by soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.
Raw fish on its own is known as sashimi, but there are also all kinds of different types of rice-based sushi from the regular maki rolls to nigiri which comes with a bed of rice plus a topping with a band of nori seaweed around the middle, and temaki which are hand rolls in the shape of a cone with seaweed on the outside and rice and filling in the middle.
Sushi is now popular all over the world and there are even non-Japanese evolutions beginning with the now classic California Roll which is an inside-out roll with the rice on the outside, seaweed inside, and crab, cucumber and avocado in the middle.
Although sushi may have originated as a form of “fast food” that could be eaten easily with the hands, today one of its most appealing qualities is in the importance placed on beautiful presentation. Many restaurants still serve sushi on a traditional small wooden platform, though kaiten zushi conveyor belt restaurants are popular too. Becoming a sushi chef is an extremely fine art and takes a lifetime to truly master.
Sushi has become a symbol of Japan in its own right and it’s not unusual to see a host of anthropomorphized sushi characters adorning various types of merchandise, from cooking utensils to stationery to clothing. Sushi - a feast for the eyes as well as the belly.