Renowned for its cool sophistication, sushi is so often the Japanese food of choice for London residents that feel those all-too-familiar hunger pangs, and that would like to tuck into cuisine that is fulfilling without also leaving them with that bloated feeling. Sushi consists of a combination of cooked vinegared rice – known as shari – and other ingredients, known as neta. More often than not, the neta is seafood, although there are also plenty of other possibilities, in addition to many forms of sushi presentation. But, its national origins notwithstanding, where exactly has sushi come from, en route to the present popularity of sushi delivery?
Sushi was developed in its initial form in Southeast Asia, a form that is now known as nare-zushi. It then spread to south China before appearing in Japan. The actual word “sushi” literally means “sour tasting”, in a sign of the food’s historic fermented roots, and indeed, this process still closely matches that involved with the oldest type of sushi in Japan, known as narezushi. Contemporary Japanese sushi, however, has little in common with the traditional lacto-fermented rice dish, with vinegar having been added to the mixture from the Muromachi period onwards (AD 1336–1573). This extended the rice’s shelf life and allowed for the shortening, and eventual abandonment, of the fermentation process.
Then, come the end of the Edo period, the form of sushi that was to become internationally known as “sushi” was created, by Hanaya Yohei. By the later 19th century, written references to sushi were appearing in the West, with reports of its consumption in the UK following in the mid-20th century. Today, of course, sushi London is no rare sight, and nor are companies that specialise in sushi delivery. Sushi London has widespread appeal as a dish that brings Japanese tastes and textures to British mouths.
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