International Sushi Day on June 18 is the perfect excuse to tuck into the Japanese specialty. Sushi has become a global phenomenon over the past 30 years or so after struggling to find a foothold in the west in the beginning. Raw fish didn’t initially sound appetizing to all cultures but we eventually realized that we were wrong and now we can’t get enough of it. It’s time to sharpen up your chopstick technique and treat yourself for International Sushi Day.
History of International Sushi Day
To find the origins of sushi we must look at a dish called narezushi. Narezushi is salted fish stored in fermented rice for months at a time. Southeast Asia and Japan both had their own version of the dish, the rice was discarded and the fish was eaten. This was the first iteration of sushi and was seen by the Japanese as an important source of protein.
In the Edo Period, between 1600 and 1800 in Japan, sushi as we know it was established. Fish and vegetables were wrapped in rice and mixed with vinegar. Much like with Narezushi, each region had its own variations to it, but this is close to the version most people in today’s world are familiar with. In the early 1800s, the style of nigirizushi began to emerge. This consisted of a mound of rice with a slice of fish draped over it.
The Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 disrupted the Japanese economy and it displaced many people from Edo Japan. Japanese people were forced to restart their lives in new places and this consequently took sushi all over the world.
In the U.S, sushi was emerging from communities in Little Tokyo by the mid-twentieth century. It became popular among Hollywood celebrities which led to it gaining the public’s attention. What was once foreign to Americans became Americanized with the California roll that used crab and avocado instead of raw fish. In 2009, International Sushi Day was proclaimed for June 18. The idea came from Facebook and it took on a life of its own.
International Sushi Day timeline
From Facebook to the World
On Facebook, International Sushi Day is proposed because of its mass popularity and it quickly takes off.
Once Upon a Time
Hollywood celebrities of this time embrace sushi and the public follow suit.
The Great Kanto Earthquake displaces many Japanese people and sushi emerges in other parts of the world.
The sushi that the modern world is familiar with takes form using fish and vegetables wrapped in rice and mixed with vinegar.
International Sushi Day FAQs
What's good sushi for beginners?
The Philadelphia roll is a favorite for sushi newcomers which has salmon, avocado, and cream cheese.
Are there any rules for eating sushi?
It’s customary to eat sushi in one bite unless you’re a child.
When is International Sushi Day?
How To Celebrate International Sushi Day
Have a sushi day
Bring along your friends or family, go to your local sushi restaurant, and feast. Listen to the chef's suggestions and try something new.
Become a sushi chef
Watch a Youtube video and try making sushi yourself. You'll need a rice cooker, a rice paddle, a bowl of water, a bamboo mat, a sharp knife, and the ingredients for the type of sushi you’re making. It takes concentration and commitment but the finished product is well worth it.
Watch a sushi documentary
The documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is available on Netflix. It’s the story of the world's greatest sushi chef, 85-year-old Jiro Ono, and it received high praise from critics and viewers alike.
Five Facts About International Sushi Day
It’s probably not real wasabi
Horseradish is often used instead of the root of the wasabia japonica plant.
It didn’t start in Japan
Norezushi originated in Southeast Asia near the Mekong River before reaching Japan.
Sushi wasn’t always a specialty
Sushi was once more of a quick snack rather than a pricy cuisine.
Sashimi can kill
Sashimi prepared with pufferfish can have lethal amounts of poison if it's not prepared correctly.
Use all the sauce
In Japanese culture, it's improper to waste the soy sauce.
Why We Love International Sushi Day
Looking to have your mind blown? The possibilities are endless as you create your own combination of seafood, vegetables, seasonings and sauces and have your sushi your own way. Mmmmm.
It's Very Healthy
It's difficult to get much healthier than raw fish and veg. The rice maybe isn’t the healthiest food in the world, but the carbs in it will give your body the energy it needs. If you’re looking to lose weight and stay in great shape then sushi is the way to go.
You'll never get bored as there are a plethora of things you can choose with sushi. Even if you don't love everything on the menu you will find something that tastes great. For extra flavor and spice, use soy and wasabi to dip your your food in.
International Sushi Day dates