The 200-year-old street food is a modern classic, according to students

Written by: 
Bruno Maynez

Sushi, in all its shapes, colors, and sizes is a favorite treat among BYU-Hawaii students. Sushi enthusiasts attending BYUH discuss the history and why they enjoy the flavors sushi has to offer.

Sushi enthusiasts visited Genki Sushi in Kaneohe and talked about what they liked about the food served and sushi in general. Mark Camiso, a senior from the Philippines studying hotel tourism and management said, “The first time I tried sushi was in my mission. A member made sashimi and it was tasted really fresh. I was not used to the texture but I enjoyed it.”

There is a difference between sushi and sashimi. According to Japan-guide.com, “Sashimi is thinly sliced, raw food. Some people confuse sashimi with sushi. Unlike sashimi, sushi includes vinegared rice.” The website also lists nigiri, temake, gunkan, and norimake as dishes found in sushi shops.

Explaining how he was introduced to sushi, John Dy, a freshman from the Philippines studying hotel and tourism management, said, “I’ve eaten sushi for as long as I lived. As a kid, we went to a Japanese store that sold it. It wasn’t until I went to a buffet called ‘Dad’s.’ They had a whole lot of different flavors. I love sushi because it doesn't feel heavy. Its very light and I see it as a snack.

“You know I never liked raw fish until I had sushi. A good, inexpensive introduction to sushi is sushi boats. Sushi boats are good for beginners and for kids. There's a chance to try a variety of dishes. Sushi boats are good for stories.”

Recounting how at first she did not like raw fish, Natasya Haridas, a freshman from Singapore studying marketing said, “I like the taste of sushi, especially the sushi rice. What's funny is I don't like raw food.” She laughed at the idea. “For me, I never ate seafood despite living in Singapore. Seafood is a delicacy there. I would only eat seafood if was in sushi, but first I would only eat cucumber sushi and that wasn’t going to cut it.”

According to the book “Sushi: Food for the Eye, the Body and the Soul”, sushi has been made in Japan for over 200 years, originating as street food. The most traditional dish is sashimi. The dish is usually a simple slice of tuna, coated with soy sauce and a dab of wasabi over a small chunk of rice.

Delving into the history of the dish, Camiso said, “The people preparing sushi would actually put fish in fermented rice. This would preserve the fish for long periods of time. Sushi as we know it got its beginning this way. What is interesting is the Japanese don’t use salmon in sushi. Salmon was snuck into rolls of rice and this started the trend of including salmon in sushi and… the California roll.”

Sushi chefs can spend their whole careers mastering the techniques in preparing these dishes. Jiro Ono, a Japanese chef and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, spent more than 75 years mastering his craft. In the documentary, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, Ono said, “The [sushi] masters said that the history of sushi is so long that nothing new could be invented. They may have mastered their craft but there’s always room for improvement. I created sushi dishes that never existed back then. I would make sushi in my dreams. I would jump out of bed at night with ideas.” Ono is credited by experts, like Anthony Bourdain, for making sushi what it is today.

The late celebrity food critic, Anthony Bourdain said, “The Japanese call it Shibui or simplicity devoid of unnecessary elements. Only the good stuff.”

Date Published: 
Monday, August 6, 2018
Last Edited: 
Monday, August 6, 2018