Sushi is an ancient food, and its origins are shrouded in mystery. Although sushi’s origins may not be completely confirmed, you can always stop by a Japanese restaurant in Campbell for a lunch special to see how far the dish has come. You can learn a bit about the history of sushi below.
Legend and Origins
Legend has it that an elderly Japanese woman hid her pots in osprey nests, and some of the osprey’s fish leftovers found their way into the rice, which had also started to ferment. An early mention of sushi is found in a Chinese dictionary from the fourth century. It describes a mixture of cooked rice and salted fish that creates fermentation. This process helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the fish, causing it to stay edible for a longer period of time.
Ninth Century to 18th Century
Japan saw an increase of both Buddhism and sushi in the ninth century. Buddhists did not eat meat, so they instead ate a great deal of fish. As more people identified with the principles of Buddhism, those people began to consume more fish. The Japanese called the blend of rice and fish nare-zushi. Early forms of sushi took months to prepare and thus were only consumed by the wealthy until the 15th century. At this time, cooks found a way to prepare sushi in one month; this type of sushi was called mama-nare zushi. By the 18th century, the process was finally reduced to two hours.
19th Century to Today
A man in Edo, Japan, named Hanaya Yohei, discovered a way to serve sushi in mere minutes. He used a rapid fermentation process for the rice combined with fresh fish, which did not need to be preserved. This caused sushi to boom in popularity and set a new standard for the time it takes for sushi to be prepared. After a large earthquake in 1923, sushi vendors started to move indoors and start shops. Their popularity grew in Japan throughout the century, and finally reached America in 1966, where Japanese restaurants and teppanyaki are still popular today. Modern teppanyaki and sushi restaurants are very popular for their great food, outstanding lunch specials, and unique bento box lunches.