It’s no secret many of us love eating sushi today.
Sushi seems to be as popular as McDonalds. Sushi shops are literally located all over Melbourne. There is one practically every one or two blocks in the CBD selling takeaway sushi. Japanese restaurants are aplenty too, some serving sushi on huge sharing platters.
Sushi is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia where people mixed fish with rice in order to preserve the seafood. This spread to Japan around the 8th Century; eating fish with rice was popular with the Japanese. From then on, the Japanese experimented and created different types of sushi and this cuisine eventually spread around the world.
What exactly is sushi’s appeal? Why do so many Asians, Westerners and other races like eating sushi all the time?
We can only speculate, and here are some probable reasons why:
1) Convenient to eat
Sushi is one of those convenient takeaway foods. Pieces of sushi can be easily tucked away in paper bags or disposable plastic cases and easily carried around. Plus, sushi is relatively clean finger-food: sticky rice holds the condiments together, sometimes with the help of seaweed wrapped around. Also, bite-sized pieces of such sushi tend to fit snugly in our mouths.
2) Fairly healthy food
Rarely will you find a roll or plate of sushi swathed in oil. Steamed rice is sushi’s main ingredient and so a plate of this delicacy tends to be healthier compared with a plate of fried fish and chips, making the former a go-to choice for the health conscious.
However, it is worth noting eating too much of sushi – and anything – can be bad for us. Sushi is often eaten with wasabi and sushi rice is usually seasoned with vinegar, making sushi a highly acidic meal that can upset sensitive stomachs. Studies have also shown seaweed, ever a key ingredient in sushi, contains high levels of iodine that can cause thyroid problems.
Bite into sushi and you’re almost guaranteed to experience an explosion of distinctive flavours tickling your palate. Tangy vinegar-tinged rice, sweet mayonnaise, nutty sesame seeds, sweet-and-sour teriyaki sauce are just a few of them bound to hit your tastebuds when you eat sushi – sometimes one at a time, sometimes all at once.
Sushi comes in astounding assortments. Inari, nigiri and maki are some of the traditional kinds of sushi around. Then there are the “Westernised sushi” handrolls greeting you from behind refrigerated sushi display cases when you walk into sushi shops in Melbourne – teriyaki chicken, California and spicy tuna rolls to name a few.
Gourmet sushi or hybridised, fusion sushi exists on the more expensive end of the dining spectrum. For instance, soft shell crab and dragon roll sushi are often some of the more modern (Westernised) variations of sushi – they’re tricky to find in Melbourne and much pricier and more unusual in taste than your average California roll. Spoilt for sushi choice, oh yes we are.
5) Exotic food
For many of us who aren’t Japanese, sushi wasn’t a cuisine we grew up eating and is essentially foreign food to us. Eating food from different cultural groups never gets boring. It’s always nice to mix up what we typically eat with something adventurous, teasing our palates with something new.
6) Status symbol
Sushi doesn’t come cheap, at least in Australia. A sushi handroll or a nigiri costs around $2.50 here. Eating roughly four rolls or pieces usually makes one feel like they had a decent meal, and this tends to drain the wallet about $10. Then there are the sushi trains that I personally think rip you off with their small portions. Funnily enough, there are barely complaints about sushi prices Down Under – Australians are willing to spend on sushi. We must look classy and exotic dining on sushi. It’s a treat. So many days of the week.
Do you like eating sushi and why? What’s your favourite sushi?